EDMONDS — Symphonies, singers, bands, dancers and performers have breathed new life into a building that was a school auditorium for 67 years.
The Edmonds Center for the Arts, located at 410 Fourth Ave. N. in downtown Edmonds, has continued to grow in popularity since the Cascade Symphony Orchestra first performed there Oct. 23, 2006.
The old auditorium, built in 1909, was used for three different schools until 2000. Renovating the building into the arts center cost $18.5 million.
The center has sponsored 26 shows since January, and other groups from around the region have also made use of the venue.
Joe McIalwain, the center’s executive director, says the future is bright for the arts center.
Quesion: How has your first year been so far?
McIalwain: It’s been great. It’s been a roller-coaster, but it’s been extremely rewarding for everybody, from the board to the staff to the audiences to the community. I’m really proud of what we’ve done in a relatively short period of time.
Question: What kind of feedback have you had?
McIalwain: It’s been glowing from all sides. I remember the opening night with Cascade Symphony Orchestra. They had played here before in (the building’s) previous life, when it was a high school auditorium. I remember the comments about the sound quality, the comfort and some additional space on stage for them to be able to move around. And the audience was blown away by the quality of the sound.
Question: What do you plan on doing with the old school gymnasium on the property?
McIalwain: Right now we’re doing sports three, four nights a week. It’s an incredible gymnasium, and we’d like to see it used more for sports of all types. We’d also like to see it used for special events.
Question: What about the three classrooms on the site?
McIalwain: We’d like to increase the use. Once we finish the renovations, they’ll be more functional.
Question: How does the center fit in downtown Edmonds?
McIalwain: It’s working out great. To be honest, I was a little concerned in that it felt somewhat remote when I first came down here. But it’s so convenient for so many people.
Question: Where is your audience coming from?
McIalwain: We’re drawing about 40 percent of our audience from Edmonds and about 60 percent from the surrounding area. Of that 60 percent who come from around the region, about 15 percent come from the city of Seattle. That’s good for us because we’re bringing in people from all over the place.
Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or email@example.com.