The key to Schack Art Center’s success

  • By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
  • Saturday, April 28, 2012 9:53pm
  • LifeEverett

The Schack Art Center was built, and the people did indeed come.

They came and came and came some more.

In Schack’s first year of existence, overall attendance was 33,000 — about the size of Bothell’s population.

They came in droves, including those who attended one of Schack’s most popular indoor-outdoor events: the Artists Garage Sale. The turnout numbered 3,000, making it Schack’s single biggest attendance day of its first year, even though it rained.

For “Day of Clay,” 700 people came; 600 came for Schacktoberfest to make glass pumpkins, buy glass pumpkins and have a bratwurst and a beer.

Oh, and remember — this is an art gallery.

In its first year, 265 artists came through Schack’s front door to exhibit.

Translate that into dollars and cents and you wind up with 236 artists receiving more than $155,000 in salaries and commissions during year one.

People have visited so much since it opened that Schack tripled its number of art classes and added 420 new members.

Schack, a nonprofit, also increased its operating budget 60 percent since 2010. The budget is now at $900,000 — close to the size of the operating budget of Darrington.

The 19,000-square-foot Schack had its grand opening ceremony a year ago April 30. The multipurpose art center with its premiere glass hot-shop was the vision of the former Arts Council of Snohomish County — now known as Schack Art Center — and city of Everett leaders.

Its capital campaign raised more than $6 million during the middle of one of America’s worst economic times.

Financially, Schack is on track to break even at the end of the year. That’s unheard of for an arts organization in its first year, said Lanie McMullin said.

McMullin, Everett’s executive director of economic development, was one of Schack’s visionaries.

“It’s just an amazing success story,” McMullin said.

McMullin explains the success this way: Schack didn’t block anyone who wanted to participate. Everyone is welcome.

“They have brought art to us and that’s the number one thing they have done,” McMullin said. “This is for everyone and anybody, and let’s bring in bratwursts and beer and there it is.”

Schack’s executive director Judy Tuohy said the community has embraced the connection they have with working artists and their artwork at Schack, without feeling intimidated.

“It’s the interaction — whether they are making a glass ornament or taking a class, people want an experience, they want to feel that there is a connection,” Tuohy said. “The formula is working for us right now.”

Part of what makes that formula fizz is Schack’s showpiece hot-shop. The premier public access production studio is built behind a huge garage door that’s open a lot so visitors can watch glass blowers in front of a 2,100-degree furnace change molten blobs into beautiful glass pieces.

Schack also keeps a lot of its events free.

One of the most popular of these has been Teen Night.

The most recent Teen Night attracted 125 kids. The popularity of Teen Night also has attracted the attention of Everett police who want to come up with a way to fund more of these free events to give kids something to do other than join a gang or get into trouble.

Everett arts patron and the building’s namesake, Idamae Schack, said last year at 92 years old that she had great confidence in the vision of Schack, adding that she was “especially excited about the focus and opportunity the center will provide to young people in our community.”

Schack is taking advantage of its stunning facility by booking weddings, retirement parties and, so far, two 90th birthday parties. Since Schack opened, one man proposed marriage to his fiance inside the main gallery.

In Schack’s future, more building is planned.

Phase Two for Schack means raising about $1 million to build another 5,000 square feet. This mezzanine level would accommodate a print-making studio, a metal-smithing area and lapidary space for jewelry classes, a small ceramics area for kids and maybe a coffee shop and resource area, Tuohy said.

Schack’s success is a shared story.

On top of Schack, Artspace, a nationwide housing network for artists, has opened affordable apartments for artists to live and create in.

The Artspace Everett Lofts opened in 2010 and have enjoyed almost full occupancy most of the time, said manager Heidi Heimarck.

She said periodically the building has one or two vacancies but never for long. Many of the original tenants remain in the building, Heimarck said.

Heimarck said she wants to increase the success of Artspace throughout the community by encouraging tenants to do art projects that have a greater impact.

One tenant is thinking of putting together art supply boxes to hand out to homeless shelters.

Another idea is for Artspace to host a “Kids Day” with art workshops, Heimarck said.

Economic development director McMullin said Artspace and the Schack Art Center is a case where the sum of the whole is better than its parts.

The genius of Schack’s programming and the energy and creativity stewing inside — and hopefully outside — of Artspace is a combination that economic developers have “extorted” for years, McMullin said.

“Creativity always, always, always begets energy,” McMullin said. “It’s working for us over there.”

Schack’s Birthday Bash

Schack Art Center is turning 1 year old and is inviting the public for cake and balloons from noon to 5 p.m. May 6 at Schack, 2921 Hoyt Ave.

Activities and artist demonstrations planned for the day include:

•Collage demonstration with Celeste Douville, 2:30-5 p.m.;

“Friendship Folios” with Anna Mastronardi Novak, Noon to 5 p.m.;

Watercolor demonstrations with Charlene Collins Freeman, Noon to 5 p.m.;

Up-cycled Art project with Jody Cain, Noon to 5 p.m.

You can still register for a “Make It Now” class to create a glass flower or a piece of glass jewelry. Classes are:

•Make it Now in 20 Minutes or Less — Glass Flowers, noon to 3 p.m. May 6; ages 13 and up, $40 per person.

Make Your Own Fused Glass Jewelry, 2 to 5 p.m. May 6; ages 13+, Members $40, Non-Members $45.

For more information go to www.schack.org.

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