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Who We Are
Each year, 110,000+ people come together at Town Hall for 425+ events spanning civics, the arts, and sciences. But we’re far more than just a venue. Town Hall Seattle is a nonprofit organization that maintains a landmark historic building—as well as marketing and production infrastructure—for shared community use.
There’s nowhere else like Town Hall Seattle, anywhere. The midsize scale of our performance spaces, our highly collaborative model, wide breadth of programming presented, and deep commitment to accessibility all make us a new kind of cultural convener. With wide open doors and radically affordable tickets and stages, everyone can take part, be inspired, and use their voice to shape our future.
What We Believe
We believe that everyone deserves access to fresh ideas and artistic expression. That’s why everything from our building’s design and renovation features to our operating models, ticket prices, and approach to digital distribution are built to maximize accessibility. Please see our Accessibility Statement to learn more.
We believe in an equitable Town Hall that belongs to all of us. Town Hall Seattle strives to be an inviting place where everyone feels welcomed and represented regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, religion, disability, or class. At the same time, we recognize that structural racism is entrenched throughout U.S. culture and institutions, including our own. Town Hall Seattle has historically been—and is presently—a predominantly white-led organization, and we experience the same outcomes of institutional racism. Therefore, we’ve chosen to address equity through an explicitly (though not exclusively) racial lens. Please read our Racial Equity Statement to learn more.
We believe that, together, we can model the kind of society we want to share. Therefore, we ask ourselves to embrace curiosity, engage thoughtfully with complicated conversations, maintain space for differing points of view, remain open to continual learning, and—above all—to treat one another with respect and kindness. Please see our Community Code of Conduct to learn more.
Our Programming Model
Town Hall was founded as a 501(c)3 in 1998, saving a beloved historic building and creating an affordable shared performance home for the region’s small to midsized arts and civic organizations. Today, we’ve matured into a nationally unique artistic and civic hub located in the heart of Seattle.
Half of our calendar is built by rental partners (about 90 every year). Through subsidized rental rates and hands-on production/marketing support for these homegrown organizations, Town Hall levels the cultural playing field and amplifies the voices of diverse communities.
The remaining 200+ programs—spanning the arts, civics, and sciences—are produced collaboratively by Town Hall: our staff, series curators, community partners, and other thinkers and doers who push our creative frontiers. The resulting calendar is an inclusive, present-tense reflection of life here in the Puget Sound region.
As Town Hall’s Spring 2019 Scholars in Residence Urban Native Education Alliances’ Clear Sky Native Youth Council created this Land Acknowledgement, specific to our building in Downtown Seattle:
“We acknowledge that we are in the homeland of Chief Seattle’s dxw’dəwɁábš (People-of-the-Inside, the Duwamish Tribe of Indians), the First People of this land. The Duwamish are the first Indian Tribe named in the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty’s title. On January 22, 1855, Chief Seattle was the first signatory to the Point Elliott Treaty at Mukilteo. Three other chiefs signed the Point Elliott Treaty on behalf of the Duwamish Tribe. The Duwamish homeland extends from Lake Sammamish west to Elliott Bay, and from Mukilteo south to Federal Way, a total of 54,700 acres.
“The Snoqualmie, Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot Tribes are also sovereign nations indigenous to Puget Sound. Many people living at these sovereign nations and elsewhere are descendants of the Duwamish Tribe and have ancestral ties to this land.
“We raise our hands to honor Chief Seattle’s Duwamish Tribe of Indians and all descendants of the Duwamish Tribe. We thank them for their hospitality as the First People of this land, and for our continuing use of the natural resources of their Ancestral Homeland.
“Indigenous contributions and sacrifices are immense, and we acknowledge the ongoing disparities, racism, and political invisibility experienced by the Duwamish and other Indigenous Peoples of Puget Sound.”
Participants from the UNEA community involved in creating this Land Acknowledgement included Alexander (Assiniboine) , Asia (Cherokee), Alex (Menominee), Akichita (Standing Rock Lakota), Chayton (Hunkpapa Lakota), Cante (Hunkpapa Lakota), Snoqualmie Tribe Chief Andy De Los Angeles, Snoqualmie Tribe member Sabeqwa De Los Angeles, past UNEA program director & Clear Sky Co-Coordinator AJ Oguara (Colville confederated tribes), and past UNEA Elder Tom Speer.
Our Historic Building
Town Hall’s historic building was originally the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, constructed in two stages from 1916 through 1922. It was built at the peak of the Christian Science movement, when the church could afford generous spaces and fine finishes. The congregation was the sole and continuous occupant of the building until it was sold to Town Hall in 1998.
Architect George Foote Dunham of Portland designed the space, employing the distinctive Roman Revival style (popular among many Christian Science churches at the time) that lends Town Hall its characteristic high front portico with six two-story pillars and the high arched ceiling of the Great Hall. Dunham also designed one other building in Seattle—the Christian Science Church on Northeast 17th on Fraternity Row in the University District.
Like most Christian Science Churches, this one is built to resemble a public building, with no religious symbolism inside or out. The building sports a unique central dome complete with a decorative oculus to match the large art-glass windows in the Great Hall. These windows have been restored by Seattle Stained Glass as part of the building’s renovation—along with the four terra cotta clad exterior walls that give the building its characteristic gleam.
Town Hall has several remarkable features inside as well. The small interior stage on the downstairs floor (the original rostrum for the earliest services) has been transformed as part of our renovation. The space is now the Forum, a fully modular 300-seat performance space. The lobby level features restored art-glass Tiffany-style lighting fixtures, as well as a decorative balcony and elaborate window treatments with pilasters. Curved wooden pews with fitted backs grace the Great Hall, formerly the sanctuary. The vaulted ceiling and the central dome, together with the thick masonry walls and the dispersion of sound from all the ornamentation, produce warm, full acoustics rarely created today in a building of this design.
Staff and Curators
Wier Harman Executive Director
Christine Martin Interim Deputy Director
Morgan Larsen Finance and Administration Director
Renate Child Senior Accountant
Robert Babs Operations Manager
Laurel Taylor Senior Data Analyst and Database Administrator
Programming & Rentals
Advancement & Development
Kate Nagle-Caraluzzo Advancement Director
Communications & Marketing
Board of Directors
Tom Robertson, Co-President
Anita Mires, Vice President
Marjorie Ringness, Treasurer
Katherine de Bruyn, Secretary
Donna Bellew, Incoming President
Caroline VanHarmelen, Past President and Chair