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One Reel and Seattle Center Announce Collaboration to Sustain Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival

The Committee will explore how best to move the festival forward as it considers the process through which the festival is produced.

One Reel and Seattle Center Announce Collaboration to Sustain Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival

One Reel and Seattle Center have announced a new collaborative effort to sustain Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival long into the future. Moving outside their long-established arrangements, next steps for the two will be formation of a Bumbershoot Exploratory Committee to inform and advise the Seattle Center Director about Bumbershoot's future.

The exploratory process comes after a one-year hiatus for Bumbershoot in 2020, which will continue in 2021 because of event restrictions associated with COVID-19. The Committee will look back at successful festival elements over the years with an eye to maintaining the festival's essential character of artistic and cultural diversity and excellence and the tradition of strong community festival involvement. The goal will be to continue the festival's heritage as an affordable, multi-disciplinary arts event celebrating regional, national and international arts and entertainment.

"Our history with Seattle Center spans as far back at Bumbershoot's origin, so One Reel's new role makes perfect sense," said Marty Griswold, Executive Director of One Reel. "As Seattle Center ushers a new direction for the festival, One Reel will provide the historical context and a critical eye to ensure a fair and public process for determining the future of Bumbershoot. One Reel remains fully committed to a smooth transition and is optimistic over Bumbershoot's future. I dare say, we are not alone in our anticipation for the return of Seattle's signature festival to Seattle Center."

The Committee will explore how best to move the festival forward as it considers the process through which the festival is produced. As part of that process, it will invite public input and feedback as it weighs the benefits to the festival and feasibility of new producing partners and year-round opportunities to create a sustainable model for the festival and brand.

"As a someone who grew up in Seattle and has been here since Bumbershoot began, I want to thank One Reel for creating such an iconic festival, where we have been moved by great music, art, comedy, poetry, experiences and community. My memories take me back to the music of James Brown, Tina Turner, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Chaka Kahn, Billy Cobham, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ziggy Marley, BB King; to the art of Jacob Lawrence; to the comedy of Jerry Seinfeld; to the joy of my friends and family," said Seattle Center director Robert Nellams. "I have cherished Bumbershoot as our festival, and I look forward to working with One Reel to create a new version of it that will respect the success of the past and chart a new path for the next 40+ years."

The announcement follows several years of adjustment and change for the annual festival, which began in 1971 as the Mayor's Arts Awards/Festival, a City-subsidized event and completely free to the public. In fact, the City holds the "Bumbershoot" name and trademark. Over the many years, Bumbershoot has grown in stature, scope, complexity, budget and audience. In 1995, the City transitioned Bumbershoot from a City-managed to nonprofit-managed event, and Seattle City Council approved the terms under which One Reel would present the Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival at Seattle Center. Since then, the City has continued to support One Reel, working with the presenting non-profit to develop a new business model to sustain the festival, most recently through a five-year partnership with AEG Presents, which ended in 2019, to produce Bumbershoot.

Next steps for Bumbershoot come at a time of challenge and excitement. While emerging from a global pandemic weighs on the community's comfort in gathering for such large, urban celebrations, the imposed isolation calls out the strong need and desire for communal experiences. As Seattle Center prepares for the return of events on the grounds, the opening of Climate Pledge Arena and the arrival of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair 60th Anniversary-and at a significant milestone for the festival itself-the time seems right for a reinvigorated, reimagined Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival.


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