At Town Hall, we often invite folks to feed their curiosities, and for Homecoming Festival, we’re asking: what is your curiosity craving? In this series, Town Hall staffers turn their own curiosity cravings into custom festival itineraries. Interested in sharing your own craving and the Homecoming lineup that satisfies it? Write us at email@example.com for the chance to be featured here. If selected, we’ll give you free tickets to your custom itinerary!
Jonathan Shipley, Town Hall’s Associate Communications Director, shares his itinerary:
The American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar Thomas Merton once said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” My life has been made better countless ways in countless times by the arts and those that make art. “The arts are not a way to make a living,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote. “They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.” I practice art. I write. I take photographs. I collage. I don’t do these things well, but I don’t do them badly, either. Regardless, it makes my soul grow.
In September, during Town Hall’s Homecoming Festival, I’m looking forward to further growing my soul by watching others expand theirs. 9/7 Caspar Babypants
There’s nothing more inspiring to me than watching younger generations challenge and change the status quo. In a takeover of our Forum space, in collaboration with The Hydrant, there will be a celebration of music and more, put on by Seattle’s youth. Performances include Kid Roman, Kay C, Laureli, and Lexi Lalauni. 9/22 You Had Me at Cello
Town Music Artistic Director Joshua Roman brings celebrated cellists to the stage for the inaugural concert of Town Music’s 2019-20 season. To note: I played cello like a champ in 4th grade under the direction of Mr. Mill. I could play the theme to Ghostbusters quite well. 9/23 Chase Jarvis
Well known photographer Chase Jarvis comes to the stage to share the good news from his book Creative Calling that creativity isn’t a skill, it’s a habit available to everyone. There’s also a pre-event meetup for photographers!
Earshot Jazz is bringing acclaimed jazz drummer Brian Blade to Town Hall’s stage. Blade is a Grammy Award-winner and is presenting his new project, Life Cycles. It is a tribute to the late vibraphonist and jazz legend Bobby Hutcherson.
Located in the Forum, the Otto is a great spot to meet with friends before an event or keep the conversation going afterward! Here’s everything you need to know to make yourself at home at Town Hall’s newest bar:
When is the Otto open?
Throughout Homecoming (September 2 – 29, 2019), the Otto isopen most event nights from 5:30pm – 10:30pm. Exceptions are below:
The Otto is closed Tuesday 9/3, Sunday 9/15, Tuesday, 9/17, and Friday 9/27.
The Otto has different hours Saturday 9/7 (1:30pm – 10:30pm), Sunday 9/8 (3pm – 7:30pm), Saturday 9/21 (3:30pm – 10:30pm), Sunday 9/22 (3pm – 7:30pm), and Sunday 9/29 (5:30pm – 7:30pm).
What does the Otto serve?
You can purchase beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. You can also bring in your own snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.
Please note: Guests are not allowed to bring their own alcohol, and any alcohol purchased at Town Hall must be consumed on the premises in a safe and responsible manner. Town Hall staff will refuse sale to impaired or underage guests.
Is the Otto an all-ages space?
Yes! Everyone is welcome at the Otto.
Is the Otto open while there’s an event in the Forum?
Service is usually paused during Forum events, but the space is still open. (You’re welcome to buy a ticket for the night’s program and stick around.) On evenings where there is a program in the Great Hall, but not the Forum, the Otto remains open for service throughout.
How did the Otto get its name?
The Otto is named after Otto Haas, the beloved grandfather of Duncan Haas of the Wyncote Foundation NW. Duncan is a visionary investor in Town Hall and gave a naming gift for the Forum during the renovation. It seemed fitting to honor his grandfather’s memory within the space!
What’s up with the wood on the bar?
The bar is made from reclaimed organ pipes from our old organ loft. (You can find even more of our former organ transformed into benches throughout the space and as a sculpture in the Reading Room.)
All through our Homecoming Festival, we’re hosting plenty of pre- and post-event meetups to bring our community together and keep the energy going beyond the stage. Stop by before an event or stick around after to take part in these meetups!
Thurs 9/5, 9PM and Tues 9/24, 9:15PM in the Otto Crafter Hours
Sun 9/29, 6PM in the Otto Shout Your Abortion Meetup
Sit in for conversation and education with Shout Your Abortion, a network of individuals talking about abortion on their own terms before Jenny Brown and Amelia Bonow take the stage discussing the abortion struggle now.
Learn more about these events, and much more, on our events page.We’re looking forward to having you join us for our Homecoming!
All Town Hall-produced events (everything listed as Science, Civics, or Arts & Culture, including Town Music and Global Rhythms) are now FREE for everyone age 22 and under!
Town Hall believes that everyone deserves access to fresh ideas, art, and conversations—and that access should begin early. Our community is made stronger when young people have a seat at the table, and we’re grateful to our partners at Seattle Office of Arts & Culture for funding the first five years of our 22 & Under initiative.
Claiming free 22 & Under tickets is easy. If you want to reserve your spot, just add a free 22 & Under ticket to your cart. Free youth tickets are also available at the door as long as seats are available (ID may be requested).
We’re celebrating the arrival of 22 & Under tickets with special opportunities throughout Homecoming, including Teen Night Receptions with TeenTix. Stop by teen receptions (everyone age 13 – 19 is invited) before some of the festival’s biggest events to meet other curious minds and snag complimentary snacks like Trophy Cupcakes and Primo’s pizza.
Mere days before Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding his special council report, Town Hall hosted more than 100 local actors, journalists, and community activists for a 24-hour marathon reading of the 448-page report in its entirety, including redactions and footnotes.
It was Town Hall at its best—a community-driven, highly collaborative program, an act of citizen self-education, and an immediate response to what’s happening in the world around us. It was also a wildly ambitious testament to the flexibility of both our new Forum space (formerly known as Downstairs) and our staff. Several hundred audience members joined us throughout the reading, with folks wandering in during the wee hours of the morning and 1,400 more joining throughout the livestream (even a few media outlets stopped by, including The Guardian).
We’re so grateful to the event organizers (Brian Faker, Sarah Harlett, and Carl Sander), the 100 plus readers who volunteered their time, and to everyone who participated throughout the marathon event.
You can still experience Town Hall reading the Mueller report for a non-dramatized and non-partisan presentation of this critical document. Watch the full event below (broken into Parts 1 and 2) or listen to the audio, released as a special In the Momentpodcast miniseries.
Do you want to support timely civics programs like this one? Support Town Hall by becoming a member today.
I didn’t know that the media was deteriorating. According to Bloomberg, journalism is decaying all around the country, at organizations such as Buzzfeed, Vice Media, and CNN. Even in Seattle, what many would consider an artsy, media-oriented city, the number of journalistic opportunities have dropped by 40%. These are the kinds of cold, hard, scary facts that I learned last week at Town Hall’s The Media is Dying panel, featuring Adrienne Russell, Clifford Cawthon, and Peter Jackson.
I could tell that I was out of my depth as soon as I walked into the event space, which was filled with local political chatter and orange YES t-shirts. I’m not exactly cut off from politics–I keep up with the New York Times–but compared to my fellow audience members, I knew nothing. I don’t pay attention to the goings-on in Seattle; I don’t know who our senators or representatives are. Further proof of my ignorance: I thought journalism was a viable career.
According to Jackson, the media’s slow and violent death is not because of a lack of interest–schools are overflowing with story-hunting, news-sniffing students. It’s not due to a lack of opportunity: the internet, with its ability to democratize the news system, has made it far easier for grassroots media organizations to thrive. So what’s the problem?
Unfortunately, the web is a double edged sword: although the internet opens doorways for smaller journalistic organizations, it is also responsible for many of the media’s current struggles. As a former newspaper editor in the audience told us, 65% of a newspaper’s revenue comes from advertisements, but only 15% of the paper’s income goes to the reporters. A decline in advertisers–perhaps because companies can now promote their content by paying Google or using strong search engine optimization–means a reduction in staff pay. As well, the internet makes it far easier for readers to stop subscribing to news: if you can find information anywhere, for free, why should you have to pay the Washington Post or the New York Times? Of course, less subscribers means less money for journalists. The world wide web, a once-brilliant beacon of hope and prosperity for newspapers, is now media’s downfall.
Money can also affect papers in ways one wouldn’t expect. Jackson let us in on a sobering truth: the best health information comes from a website associated with Kaiser Permanente. Some of the greatest photojournalists in Seattle work for the Starbucks Newsroom. Journalists have to go where the money is, and often, that money is in the hands of corporations focused on promoting their brand. Especially when your article might hurt the billion-dollar company that owns your paper, it can be hard to tackle hard-hitting stories. Reporters can’t bite the hand that feeds them, even though that goes against the necessity of telling the truth in journalism, of not sitting on important information, of being objective.
So the media is dying. But what can we do to slow its demise? Russell thought that, like in several Nordic countries, government should be required to pay for journalism. Newspapers are a public utility, after all. Jackson believed that we should foster a love for the news at an early age by having children share articles in school. This will pay off down the road, when those kids grow into adults with the power to subscribe–i.e. give their money–to whichever newspaper they choose. I think we need to get young people involved with their cities. Part of the reason I felt out of place at the panel was because I don’t keep up with local politics; I don’t know what I’m saying YES to. I don’t subscribe to the Seattle Times because I don’t think the goings-on of my town are as important as what’s happening in New York or Washington D.C.. If I felt that there was something Seattle could give me, something I could fight for or against, something I would want to read about in the paper, I’d be paying $3.99 a week for the rest of my life. Somehow, I need to become invested in Seattle at a local level, so that I can support our local newspapers. But hey–I’m young. I can change my mindset. I can still learn more about citywide politics, either in the classroom or through my own research. And I’m a quick learner: I now know that journalism is practically over; the presses have stopped. But, hopefully, one day, thanks to a shift in how we think about our towns and an increase in funding and subscribers, I’ll find out that they’ve started rolling again.
On July 17, in the Forum at Town Hall, there will be a screening of the documentary, No Small Matter, and a post-movie discussion about childcare access. Get your tickets now.
The film’s directors are Danny Alpert, Jon Siskel, and Greg Jacobs. Town Hall’s own Jonathan Shipley talked to Jacobs about early childhood education, brain works, and Cookie Monster.
JS: What got you interested in the subject matter? Do you have children of your own?
GJ: So my co-directors—Danny Alpert, and Jon Siskel, and I—all have slightly different “origin stories” for how we got interested in this issue. For me, it started when we were asked to do a video for The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a big early childhood advocacy organization here in Chicago. The video was about their flagship Educare, an incredible early learning center for low-income kids and families on the city’s South Side. After a week of filming, I was like, ‘Why hasn’t anyone told me about this!?’
I’d been interested in education issues for a while (I’d written a book about school desegregation in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio), but I’d pretty much given up on K-12—the battle lines were so entrenched that it seemed like nothing we tried would make things better. But seeing Educare made me think, ‘What if the best way to improve the K-12 system is actually to improve the raw material coming into it? What if instead of 5 out of 25 kids arriving at a kindergarten class ready to learn, 20 of 25 did? What impact would that have on, well, pretty much everything that follows?’ And that’s when I became a zealous convert to the cause!
And by the way, I do have two kids, but sadly, they’re now teenagers, so they’ve both aged out of No Small Matter.
JS: The director statement on your website says, “Duh!” of course early childhood education. What made you want to take this on as a project?
GJ: After that first video, we did a few more, and each one made us more convinced of the issue’s scope and importance. Finally, we said, ‘We want to do ‘the big one’—the comprehensive, issue-defining, Inconvenient Truth-type feature documentary about the power and potential impact of early childhood education.’ But, to be honest, there was probably no way we could’ve done such an ambitious film and engagement campaign on our own. Fortunately, we discovered that our friend and fellow Chicago filmmaker Danny Alpert also happened to be interested in the issue, so we decided to join forces and tackle the project together. Best decision ever.
JS: What are some of the most important facts you learned while making the film?
GJ: No Small Matter makes a brick-by-brick argument for why investing in the first five years is so crucial. Each step of the way, there are jaw-dropping facts or statistics—a baby’s brain is making a million neural connections every second; in over half the states in the U.S. putting an infant in childcare costs more than sending a kid to public college; just three percent of all educational expenditures in the U.S. go to 0-5, etc. But because early childhood is inescapably about big people taking care of little people, probably the most important facts involve the destructively inadequate pay and respect we give the early childhood workforce. On average, ECE teachers make less than dog-walkers and parking attendants; around 46% of them are on some form of public assistance; turnover is roughly 30% a year; and in a study of the expected lifetime earnings of undergraduate majors, early childhood education ranked 83rd —out of 83. That’s unsustainable.
JS: What are some of the most surprising things you learned while making the film?
GJ: Suffice to say, we are not scientists. So it was fascinating to begin to wrap our heads around the surprising science of early childhood development, including the groundbreaking work being done at I-LABS in Seattle, which we feature in the film. Researchers know so much more now about how the developing brain works than they did even ten or twenty years ago that the science has outstripped the public’s understanding of what really matters during the 0-5 years. And it turns out that what truly helps build a healthy brain is not flashcards or fancy technology, but the environment of relationships within which a child is raised—the more back-and-forth interactions a baby has with loving, supportive adults, the better that child’s odds in life will be. Which is why the issue of early childhood education is never just about children—it’s always about families and communities, as well.
JS: What were some of the most emotionally affecting moments for you while making the film?
GJ: There were a lot. But probably the most powerful thing was seeing, over and over, the struggles of parents and caregivers who are doing their absolute best in the face of constant, unyielding economic stress. Since Americans tend to treat 0-5 as a purely private matter—one that is neither shaped by politics nor political in its consequences—these parents and these caregivers often think that the problem must be them. Which is why so many of them have such emotional responses to No Small Matter—it’s often the first time they’ve seen their own struggles set in a larger context: the abdication (or privatization) of our social responsibility to support families with babies and young children. Or, as Geoffrey Canada puts it in the film, ‘Here’s an enemy that most folks don’t even know we need to fight.’
JS: For someone without kids/family, why watch the movie?
GJ: As I always say, our target audience is anyone who has, knows, or was a child. Because No Small Matter isn’t just a movie about parenting (though parents will certainly learn stuff). And it’s not just a movie about kids (though there’s a lot of fascinating stuff about early childhood development). It’s a movie about how we as a nation support—or don’t support—families with babies and young children. And that, as it turns out, affects everyone, because so many things that so many people care about are impacted by that issue: health care, crime, economic opportunity, inequality, workforce development, even military readiness—the list goes on and on. So whether you have little kids or not, we can pretty much guarantee that if you go see No Small Matter, you’ll laugh, you’ll probably cry, and you’ll leave the theater viewing the world differently than you did when you came in. Plus cute babies and Cookie Monster!
JS: What can people do to ensure early childhood education is available in their neighborhood/city/state?
GJ: One of the things we love about early childhood as an issue is that it’s not just powerful, it’s possible—it’s one of the very few issues that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on. That said, building a high quality system of support for families with young children is going to take time, it’s going to take movement on multiple fronts (prenatal care, home visiting, family leave, childcare, pre-K) and it’s going to take public will. So the first step for people is understanding just how powerful an issue this truly can be—telling that story is the goal of No Small Matter. Once you get it you can’t go back, so the next step is acting on that understanding, making it a part of your everyday political filter, a litmus test for your candidates, a measure of your community’s health. Basically, treating it like the grown-up issue it really is. If enough people get to the point where they, too, view this as ‘duh’, then we might actually see what advocate Dana Suskind calls ‘population-level change.’
Watch the movie at Town Hall. Listen in on a panel discussion after. Ask questions. Take steps. Tickets are on sale now.
Town Hall Seattle’s soft-launch winds down as we prepare for our month-long grand reopening festival in September. The festival marks twin milestones: the successful completion of a $35 million renovation of our historic home and the kick-off for the organization’s 20th anniversary season.
Homecoming Festival is a community-wide invitation to explore the renovated Town Hall and experience its new features and capacities, including its newest performance space (The Reading Room) and transformed downstairs space (the Forum). Locals already familiar with Town Hall will appreciate the signature wide-range of topics and perspectives presented—as well as the price point. Nearly all festival tickets are just $5, and now, all events produced by Town Hall are free for everyone aged 22 and younger (made possible through support from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture).
Homecoming opens on Labor Day (9/2) with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and Rep. Pramila Jayapal. The two will hold court in the Great Hall to discuss the state of American politics and the labor movement as they unpack Reich’s call for our country to reinvest in the common good.
Town Hall will show off its upgraded acoustics with concerts ranging from world music stars like Garifuna Collective to kindie-rocker Caspar Babypants. Likewise, the building’s new A/V and technical capacities make it an ideal home for live podcast tapings (such as Vox Media’s The Weeds) and performance art (Seattle-based performer HATLO is the Homecoming Artist-in-Residence). Details for these events are still being finalized.
Highlighting Town Hall’s role as a shared community platform, Town Hall is augmenting their lineup of marquee thought-leaders and homegrown talents with pre- and post-show conversations, locally-curated programs, and artist takeovers (where artists and artist collectives take over Town Hall’s building and transform it through their work for the day). Notably, artist collective TUF will take over the building with concerts, panel discussions, and hands-on workshops, creating spaces to connect and collaborate with a focus on uplifting marginalized identities and challenges white-cis-male power structures within electronic music, art, and media.
More details, parties, and programs will be announced throughout the summer. Tickets go on sale to Town Hall members July 1; public sale begins July 3. More about the festival can be found here.
9/7 – Suzan-Lori Parks: Town Hall Takeover (to be announced)
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright takes over the building with workshops, a concert, and a public performance of new work commissioned as a re-inauguration of the Great Hall
9/10 – Vox: The Weeds Podcast Live
Vox voices and regular hosts Matthew Yglesias, Jane Coaston, and David Robert take the stage for a live recording of their podcast delving into the areas where politics becomes policy.
9/21 – TUF Art Collective: Town Hall Takeover
TUF takes over Town Hall too challenge white-cis-male power structures within electronic music, art, and media. With workshops and showcase they create opportunities to connect and collaborate through new media.
On July 19 (days before Mueller testifies before Congress), more than 100 local actors, journalists, politicians, and community leaders will take over Town Hall’s Forum stage for a complete reading of the Mueller Report. Members of the Seattle theater community (Brian Faker; Sarah Harlett; Carl Sander) are partnering with Town Hall for a continuous, marathon reading of the entire 448-page Mueller report. It will take more than 100 readers a total of 24 hours (July 19, 8pm – July 20, 8pm) to present the report as-is, redactions and footnotes included. When asked to comment on the decision to present the un-editorialized report, Harlett noted: “This is not meant to be a dramatization of the report’s findings. We wish to bring the power of the human voice to an essential document that provides invaluable information about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the response of President Trump to that interference and the investigations it set in motion.” The reading is non-partisan, non- dramatized and is not intended as a commentary on Robert Mueller, his team, the report, or its findings.
The reading will take place in Town Hall’s newly renovated Forum space (formerly known as Downstairs). Town Hall has recently completed a $35 million top-to-bottom renovation of its historic building. This event is presented as part of their summer soft-launch preceding the grand reopening Homecoming Festival this September.
All members of the public are invited to attend. No registration is required, admission is free for all, and guests can come and go as they see fit throughout the 24-hour period. Donations will be accepted at the door, and all profits will be donated to ACLU of Washington. Voter registration will also be available onsite throughout the reading.
Our General Manager, Mary Cutler, floated into the office this morning, arms swaying and voice sing-song: “Today is a normal day. Let’s all pretend it’s a normal day.” It is, decidedly, not a normal day. But we echoed her feigned calm and did our best to think about anything other than what was happening across the street. Our final inspection was underway. If given the thumbs up, the building—after nearly two full seasons of renovation—would officially be ours again.
That calm pretense was traded for cheers as Mary shared the good news: we passed. As of 11:46 am today, May 16,Town Hall Seattle is no longer a construction site.
The staff raced over and (without hard hats!) entered through the freshly painted 8th Ave doors, explored stairwells, and marveled at the Reading Room’s bare but beautiful form. We gathered on the Great Hall stage to pop a bottle of champagne, toast one another and the community that made this possible—and also to really feel what’s on the horizon. Wier’s toast hit home: “Twenty years of Town Hall. And now, right now, we get to start it all again.”
Whether you’ve been with us since 1999, met us during Inside/Out, or are stumbling across this post because a friend happened to share a link: we are so incredibly glad you’re here. The future and possibilities of Town Hall have never been quite so bright, and each of us are necessary to manifesting its potential.
We mean that in the grand sense, and also in the practical. This summer is our soft launch; there’s still a lot of fine tuning ahead of us and we need your help–your presence and participation–to get it right. Please lend us your patience (and opinions!) as we grow into the new building, and we hope you’ll enjoy new details coming into place every time you visit this spring and summer (from smaller items like wayfinding signage to big things like bar service and commissioned artwork). With your help, the building will be the best version of itself in time for our big Homecoming festival this September!
Our very first event in the Great Hall is just days away (Tuesday, May 21), and we can’t imagine a more fitting debut for the room. Joshua Roman, our longtime friend and Town Music Artistic Director, will lend us his virtuosic talents in a solo cello concert. There are still a few tickets remaining, and we hope you’ll join us to help mark the moment.
Even as we celebrate the end of our own renovation, we should note: more than just Town Hall has been under construction. Our full block is in the midst of being developed. While the plaza and Ovation towers are being built, the Forum is accessible via our new at-grade West Entrance, reachable from the loading zone on Seneca street.