I just came back from a weekend in Seattle. The weekend was meant for pure getting-away-from-it-all, escape-your-life, have-some-fun, go-shopping-eat-at-cool-restaurants. But it turned into an interesting comparison of the Seattle versus Vancouver art scenes. Ironic, because I didn’t save any receipts, so I can’t even write it off.
Music: Being a lover of Jazz, and being in Seattle with a Jazz musician, the possibility of going to a jazz club is always pretty high. Seattle has a couple of well-established jazz clubs in the downtown core: The Triple Door and Jazz Alley. We ended up at Jazz Alley, which is a large, elegant space, and run like a well-oiled machine. We don’t have anything in Vancouver that I can think of to compare it with. The music was world-class: The Joshua Redman Trio–all three incredible musicians in their own right, but together, a force to be reckoned with.
Arts Coverage via free publications: Seattle has two newspapers which are both roughly comparable to The Georgia Straight: The Seattle Weekly and The Stranger. The Stranger is the more edgy of the two–its use of the F-word was pervasive, and it focused on the more underground art scene. And, interestingly, its cover article this week was called The Vancouver Problem, a comparison of our two visual art scenes.
Theatre: While I didn’t get to actually see any shows while I was there, there certainly seems to be lots of stuff going on. Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show, and Crime and Punishment dominating. What I did get to do is a backstage tour of the Moore Theatre (which is housed in the same building at the hotel that we always stay at). The Moore is managed by the Seattle Theatre Group, who also own The Paramount, a few blocks away. Seattle has a group called The Seattle Landmark Association, whose interest is in saving and restoring old theatres. They have had some success with theatres like the Moore, not so much with others like the Pantages (which is now a parking lot). I was very impressed with the passion these people have for saving and preserving their theatre. The Moore opened only months before Vancouver’s Pantages, and the architect of our Pantages was the assistant architect on the Moore. The similarities were startling. You can view my stream of photos from the tour here.
I could go on… about food, shopping, the cultural districts, the bookstores, and the coffee. When you go away on a trip somewhere, there is always the “grass is always greener…” factor that needs to be recognized and taken into account. But having said that, it might be interesting to start a discussion with people who are active in the arts scene of your favorite get-away place: who knows what we can learn from each other?
Try this experiment: pick a place you’ve always enjoyed visiting, and do a search to see if you can find some interesting blogs that are being written about that place’s arts scene. Then, start a conversation, and ask them to guest-post. And if anyone from Seattle is reading this post, feel free to email me… I’m open to the discussion.