Arts and Entertainment

Island arts in full swing in 2001

2001 was a year of arts and humanities “firsts” on Bainbridge, as 13 programs and series debuted.

Bainbridge youth benefited from several new arts initiatives and took their talent across the globe.

And when global events were felt close to home, panel discussions and a lecture series opened conversation about America and Islam.

Several firsts occurred in the field of music, always a staple of island cultural activity. In January, Bainbridge parks cultural coordinator Sue Hylen launched the music series “First Fridays at Island Center Hall.”

The Bainbridge Chorale, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary this year, debuted new works by Emmy-nominated Seattle composer David Paul Mesler in a spring concert.

Several new avenues opened up for younger musicians this year. A unique initiative to give young musicians parity with seasoned performers put three young pianists on a program with adult ensembles in “Chamber Music at the Playhouse.”.

Parents advocating a string program in the school district organized the first all-island youth strings concert at Sakai Intermediate School. Out of this effort grew the Bainbridge Island Youth Orchestra, which performed its first program last month.

Young island artists made their mark abroad, as well. The Swingin’ Hepcats swing dance team were the first group of American teens to tour Vietnam with an official invitation of the Vietnamese government. The group performed in venues from Hue to Saigon for three weeks.

In May, Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council presented jazz talent Korum Bischoff the first Amy award, established by Dave and Caren Anderson in memory of their daughter.

Other new programs for kids included a class in stagecraft at Bainbridge Performing Arts’ theater school, which offered young thespians a chance to learn the backstage workings of theater.

Island schools joined with Bainbridge Arts and Crafts for two new arts ventures: a BAC exhibit of work by both public and private intermediate and middle school students, and a series of arts workshops for Ordway third and fourth graders.

The end of the year saw another notable collaboration: Bainbridge Performing Arts and Bainbridge Dance Center collaborated for the first time in BPA’s major holiday production, “The Snow Queen,” an original adaptation by Steven Fogell.

The arts continued to be a center of activism on the island – from “Bainbridge and Artists: Another Endangered Species,” an open forum sponsored by BIAHC in May that brought to islanders’ attention the plight of the increasing number of artists forced off Bainbridge for lack of affordable housing, to The Conscientious Projector, which brought an activist’s perspective to the Kitsap Citizen Action Network’s first film festival at two Bainbridge venues.

An important forum for community concerns, Bainbridge Island Broadcasting, got a boost this year when it found a permanent home at Commodore Center, in space donated by the school district. The studio, fitted out with furniture from city hall and equipment from Northland Cable, enabled BIB to expand to include studio-based programming.

Looking inward

Above all, 2001 was a year in which the arts helped Bainbridge Islanders – and all Americans – reexamine themselves and their place in the world.

This year, Bainbridge Island Historical Society received $45,000, the second-largest grant by the state’s new civil liberties program, to exhibit Ansel Adams photographs documenting Manzanar, the internment camp for Japanese Americans. Grant money helped Dr. Frank Kitamoto lecture in Washington schools about his family’s internment, and underwrote a documentary film on his story.

January saw the debut of “Culture and the American Character,” the humanities enquiry conceived and coordinated by Kathleen Thorne for BIAHC. Opening with an exhibit on American fashion, the five-month inquiry examined the artifacts of American culture – popular music, American film, vaudeville, poetry, stage design, theater productions and advertising – to decode the national psyche.

It was a psyche profoundly changed by the events of Sept. 11. Like the rest of the country, Bainbridge residents sought ways to communicate across the lines of age, ethnicity, and political outlook – avenues provided by several landmark lecture and discussion series.

The Bainbridge Library Speakers Forum inaugurated a series of lectures in collaboration with BAC on subjects ranging from the future of peace in the Middle East to high-tech surveillance.

In October, former Bainbridge High School social studies teacher Jonathan Miller-Lane moderated the first of a series of six adult-youth forums: “America’s Image Abroad.”

And in what was perhaps the most provocative arts event of the year, BIAHC sponsored “Islam: History, Theology and Current Perspectives,” a series of lectures and panel discussions on aspects of the Muslim world..

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