Monroe may get performing arts center

Taking a cue from Bothell, Edmonds and Arlington, Monroe might be the next city to become home to a performing arts center.

The Monroe Arts Council is spearheading the idea and has teamed with Sky Performing Arts and the Monroe School District, among others, to build a center to stage plays, musicals, dance programs, concerts and other events.

“It’s a dream of having a large theater for the populace, and the school district could really use the space as well,” said Monroe High School drama teacher Karl Akesson at a planning meeting last week.

The next meeting for the center is July 9.

Plans are in the early stages and the work groups are still investigating whether to build an entirely new facility, possibly at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, or retrofit an existing building. Some of the possible existing sites include the old Monroe School Administration Building, the former site of All Star Fitness and the Frank Wagner Auditorium at the elementary school.

The proponents have estimated that the new center will cover three acres, seat between 500 and 1,000 people, have a sloped auditorium, and be able to accommodate multiple events at once, as does Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, which features a large performance hall and a smaller recital space.

No cost estimates have been done.

“Whatever we build, this community will use it for the next 20 years and I predict we’ll fill this thing every night that it’s open,” said musician and electrical engineer Mark Ainsworth, who is helping the arts council find the right site for the center. “If you build it, they’ll come in spades.”

Reporter Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or

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