Monday, September 15, 2014

Interplayers Theater to merge with Lake City Playhouse

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 1:33 PM


Following years of financial struggles and narrowly avoided closures, Interplayers Theatre has reached a point where it can no longer can continue. Its board of directors has concluded several weeks of negotiations by signing a deal that will see Interplayers merge with Lake City Playhouse.

Once the documents are finalized at the state level, the 34-year-old professional theater will be officially subsumed by the 54-year-old Coeur d'Alene community theater led by George Green.

"On July 4, our board met with the purpose of closing the theater for financial reasons," says Michael Bowen, president of Interplayers' board of directors. "We [thought] 'Maybe we have to close, maybe we have to declare bankruptcy.'" As a third alternative, board member Ryan Oelrich suggested approaching Lake City Playhouse, the theater that Green salvaged and revitalized four years ago, "to see if they would be prepared for some type of partnership or merger."

"It turns out that Lake City Playhouse had in fact had a couple of board meetings for the purpose of planning for what happens when Interplayers folds. They saw it coming. They were ready."

The terms of the resulting merger are fairly straightforward. Lake City Playhouse will assume all Interplayers' assets and liabilities, as well as operational control of the theater. A significant portion of those liabilities is approximately $92,000 in outstanding debt.

"I'll put a big '-ish' on that figure," says Green. "We've come to an agreement on what the known liabilities are. I anticipate that there will be some future things, and that's not uncommon in this type of situation."

This wasn't the first time Interplayers found itself in dire straits. Two years ago, the theater was saved by a lease renegotiation with landlord Jerry Dicker, owner of GVD Commercial Properties. At the time, Interplayers Executive Director Pamela Brown claimed that Interplayers was "debt-free" and could "start from zero."

But the arrow quickly moved in the wrong direction on the number line. One year later, Interplayers said its 2013-14 season was contingent on its ability to solicit $150,000, some of which was to be used to cover legal fees associated with erstwhile Artistic Director Reed McColm's work visa. The theater raised only about half that amount but persevered nevertheless.

How it managed to do so is a matter of some contention. Bowen says that there was "lack of financial transparency" on the part of the executive staff, and the volunteer board of directors as a group didn't thoroughly audit the "reams of paper" they were given for inspection.

"When we appointed a finance committee of two of our board members to really investigate the finances in late June, it became evident that we were further behind on payments to vendors," says Bowen. "And more seriously, we were tens of thousands of dollars behind on state and federal payroll tax. I wish we'd realized the depth of our financial problems a year ago or we might've been able to change things."

However, the idea of a merger isn't a new one. A decade ago, after months of hand-wringing over red ink, Interplayers considered joining forces with Actors Repertory Theater of the Inland Northwest (ARt). (Incidentally, ARt was led by Michael Weaver, who recently stepped down as Interplayers' artistic director for the second time under such circumstances.) The two theater groups were ultimately unable to finalize the deal. In what would become a recurring theme, Interplayers restructured just enough to move forward alone.

Bowen says Lake City Playhouse — and more specifically, Green — is "the best hope and the only hope we have" to realize the board's primary goal of ensuring that professional theater continues in the same location. "His passion is for the theater. He's a go-getter. He's effective. And he has rescued that theater."

Despite the merger, little will change outwardly in the near term. Lake City Playhouse will carry on "business as usual," according to Green, as will Interplayers' season opener, Broadway Bound. The second-slot production, Hound of the Baskervilles, will likely be replaced "with a viable option" on account of insufficient rehearsal time and unpaid royalties.

Both Bowen and Green point out that the organizations' two months of discussions covered more abstract topics that could affect the venture.

"How is it going to be perceived to have a community theater merge and be the surviving entity of a professional organization? How is the public, how are the artists going to feel about that?" asks Green. "But we need to be clear that we're operating a business over here. The only difference between a community theater as a business and a professional theater as a business is that a professional theater is paying its performers on stage. We're both 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and that's why this merger is allowed to happen."

"The goal is to have professional theater in the [N Howard Street] location," he says. "I just want to make sure that both the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene communities understand that this is being done in effort to create something positive for artists and patrons alike."
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

One-night art show "Emerge" in CdA tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM

A piece by Christina Lucky, an Art on the Edge volunteer, whose work will be featured in Emerge,
  • A piece by Christina Lucky, an Art on the Edge volunteer, whose work will be featured in Emerge,

Tomorrow evening, Friday, Sept. 12, nonprofit organization Art on the Edge — directed by one of this year's Peirone Prize winners, Jeni Riplinger-Hegsted — is hosting its first professional art show: Emerge. The show is being held inside downtown Coeur d'Alene's historic Wiggett Building, from 5 pm to midnight.

Emerge features work by 25 local artists who've volunteered with Art on the Edge. The event is free to the public and also showcases live music from local musicians, including the Frantz Brothers and Morgan Dodge, along with a local belly dance troupe's performance.

The show's purpose is to honor the local artists who volunteer to make Art on the Edge successful, as well as to celebrate the diverse and emerging artistic community in Coeur d'Alene. Riplinger-Hegsted's goal is to give people in poverty a sense of choice through creative expression. To her, art is a means of freedom and therapy. Through Art on the Edge, both children and adults can receive educational opportunities to express themselves. 

Proceeds from sales of art featured at the show go directly back to Art on the Edge, allowing the program's mission to continue.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BEHIND THE COVER: Kiss of a Black Widow?

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 2:56 PM


It's a tricky subject. This week's cover story by Nathan Brand is about a woman who's suspected of killing her husband. There are many visuals and angles we brainstormed, but like my editor says, we have to get all the bad ideas out first. Pills on a nightstand? Woman in the shadows? We also have something around the office called the "across the room test." If you can't tell what the story is about from across the room, chances are you might not pick up that issue. In other words — simplify; boil it down. In the end we decided to go with the imagery of a black widow spider on a woman's lips. Since female black widows kill their mates, it seemed fitting. A little sexy and deadly at the same time. 

I started with a source photo of red lips, then isolated the red lips and desaturated the color to draw the eye to the focal point. Then I added a spider and put in the finishing touches of shadows on her lips. The final piece uses a font that harkens back to a vintage era, fitting since this story took place 30 years ago. In the end, we ended up with a kiss worth dying for. Keep it weird.


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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Terrain announces campaign for new, permanent arts space

Posted By on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Big news today from the local arts community. The founders of Terrain — the annual, one-night juried arts showcase that's become increasingly popular since its inception seven years ago — announced an upcoming campaign to raise funds and support for a permanent, downtown visual arts and performance space.


This morning we chatted with Terrain co-founder Luke Baumgarten, a former Inlander staffer and current contributor, as well as the new interim director of Spokane Arts, to get the full rundown on the announcement and to find out what the community can look forward to in the coming months and beyond. 

Changes are being set in motion starting with Terrain 7's new location this year. Scheduled for Friday, Oct. 3, from 5 pm-2 am, the showcase is being hosted at the nonprofit's envisioned new home, the old Washington Cracker Co. building at 304 W. Pacific. The brick structure is most recognizable by it's trapezoidal-shaped facade overlooking the Intermodal Center, advertising its past fame as "Home of Snowflake Saltines." 

Google Street View of the building's east-facing side.
  • Google Street View of the building's east-facing side.

It makes sense that Terrain is ready to settle into a new, permanent home after years staging the event in the old Music City Building on West First Avenue, which was fraught with occupancy restrictions due to a lack of fire sprinklers. Baumgarten says the new venue, originally constructed in 1891, is already equipped with sprinklers that are up to code. It won't be known how many more people the space can hold, though, until they get a new occupancy permit, he adds. The building is also estimated to be at least one-and-a-half times bigger than the Music City space.

Terrain's co-founders' goal is to raise $160,000 through several fundraising methods to turn the venue into a year-round arts and performance space. That campaign is set to officially kick off at Terrain 7's artist reception, the day before the free, public show. Founders are looking to reach their goal through grant writing, a Kickstarter campaign, private donations and venue rental sales.

"We have been talking about this for a long time, at least three to four years," Baumgarten says. "We really spent a good chunk of last year trying to make the Music City space work, but the amount of money we needed was significant. Just putting sprinklers in that building alone would have tripled the cost we have now."

The current endeavor wouldn't be possible at the currently-estimated cost if not for the support of building owners', Mark Camp and Darby McKee, Baumgarten adds. 

"It’s a beautiful space and a big space — it’ll feel like Terrain, hopefully just year round."

Visit the Campaign for Terrain site to sign up to receive future announcements about the project, including the official fundraising launch and other related news and events.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Local arts organizations, submit your events for the Fall Arts Preview issue

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 10:46 AM

As all of us look to make the most of the last days of summer, here at the Inlander we're already thinking months ahead into the fall and winter. Work on the annual Fall Arts Preview issue, out on Sept. 18, is in full swing. If you are involved with a local arts organization — a theater, gallery, performance group or any other arts-related endeavor — here's what you need to know to get your events included in that issue's massive, 14-page calendar listing events from mid-September through the end of the year. 

Last year's Fall Arts calendar.
  • Last year's Fall Arts calendar.

Important dates: The deadline to submit arts events for the Fall Arts calendar is Thursday, Sept. 4, by 5 pm. However, early submissions are always appreciated. The calendar timeline is Sept. 18-Dec. 31.

Events that qualify for listing: Because this is an arts-focused issue, we are mainly looking for events that fit into general categories of theater, visual arts, words (poetry, author readings, lectures, etc), film, cultural events, comedy and music, both classical and non-classical. 

What to submit: The basics — event name, date(s) and time, cost, contact information (a website and/or phone number for readers to find more information) and a brief description of the event. You can also submit any images that directly pertain to the event (photos from past years or event posters are always great. Please don't send stock photos or logos.).

How to submit: With our new-ish website that launched almost a year ago, users can directly submit their events to us online at This method is our preferred way to receive events because it ensures that users aren't missing any critical pieces of information, and it also let's us get your events up online faster than any other submission method. The Listings Editor (me) typically logs in daily to edit and approve user-submitted events. 

The second method is to email your fall schedules to [email protected]. Make sure to include the details listed above, and to send your events before or by Sept. 4. That's a week from today! 

Please direct any questions about the Fall Arts Preview calendar to Chey Scott at [email protected] I look forward to compiling all your events so the community knows what to look forward to this fall.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Behind the Cover: Give Guide

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 5:22 PM


Every year we shine the spotlight on people in our area who are doing their bit of good. This week we put Jeni Riplinger-Hegsted, the program director of St. Vincent de Paul’s Art on the Edge, on the cover. It is always hard to pick just one person as we profile three people but her photo lent itself to a cover the best, but in no way does it lessen what the other two people do. Randy Ramos and Kate Burke also deserve the spotlight.

I also wanted to make "Give Guide" more prominent, so I drew by hand a new give guide logo. I used two different "layers" and had a ribbon weave in between the letters and then applied a gradient. The end product is something that is much more lighthearted and handmade.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Spokane Arts executive director announces her resignation

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 3:19 PM


When Shannon Halberstadt took the job last year as the executive director of Spokane Arts, the city's nonprofit arts organization, there was some excited buzz within the city's cultural landscape. She was already a known entity in the Seattle arts community and was coming here to energize a scene that was already on the rise.

But today, the Spokane Arts board announced Halberstadt had put in her resignation. She's moving back to Seattle, where her husband has taken a new job.

Spokane Arts came into being as a nonprofit shortly before Halberstadt arrived. Before 2013, the Arts Commission was a city-run organization, but then joined with the Spokane Arts Fund to create the nonprofit. In the little time she was there, Halberstadt said she was pleased with what the group accomplished.

"I really enjoy the work that we’re doing. We have such a good team. There’s so much potential there and we’ve done a lot of good work in a short period of time," Halberstadt told the Inlander today. 

Part of her work includes the introduction of Create Spokane, a month-long series of events all over town taking place in October. And just last night was the latest installment of the popular Cultivate Spokane salon series. She also helped spearhead the ongoing Spokane Mural Project. 

The Spokane Arts board of directors says they will engage in a national search for an executive director, but have already named an interim replacement in Luke Baumgarten. That name should be familiar to Inlander readers — he was a former staff writer and arts editor for the paper and currently writes a monthly column. Most recently, he's been working in advertising at Spokane agency Seven2. Baumgarten is also one of the founders and producers of Terrain, the event in October that has begun spinning off other events throughout the year.

"I’m excited to jump in there," says Baumgarten. "One of the things I’ve found super helpful in the Terrain work I've done is finding partnerships. I’m really excited to see who in the community would be interested in working with Spokane Arts and what kind of ideas they have."

Baumgarten says he will also throw his hat in the ring for the permanent position.

Halberstadt says she'll stick around on a part-time basis for the rest of the calendar year. And when she moves to Seattle, she's not going to keep Spokane's culture a secret.

"I’m always going to be an advocate for Spokane. Having this perspective for Spokane and understanding what’s happening here. It gives me a great opportunity to spread the word.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why Spokane artists had to go to Missoula to show their edgy work

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 4:46 PM

At the Hive — a Missoula lumberyard that has been flipped into a community art space — the doors to an art show are marked with a sign that reads "Discretion Advised." 

At the “Art Invasion: Not from Here” exhibit, you'll find a varied collection of artwork that communicates everything from social criticism to personal emotional strife. The artists have not sugarcoated their message with their paintbrush. And the pieces are almost all from Spokane artists who feel their work is too edgy for their hometown galleries.
  • Darrell Wilcox
Jennifer LaRue, curator of this in-your-face collection, has been involved for decades in the Spokane art community as both a gallery manager and the writer of a Spokesman Review art column. She personally connects with more challenging and even violent subjects, but says she has been met by her community’s rejection of this artwork.

“Galleries in Spokane don’t accept nudes, or anything that suggests violence or strife,” LaRue says. “They want art that is vague or pretty. And when all you’re looking at is fluff, you get used to it.”

The pieces in “Not from Here” depict, among other things, a beaten Jesus-like figure being harassed by police, a blurred figure clutching a pill bottle in its grip and what LaRue refers to as a “full on money shot” in a television displaying porn. She argues that the value behind the shock factor in these images is the encouragement to not repress the issues we face, both personally and in society.

“When people are faced with work like this, they are able to connect with emotions that they have feared or felt isolated by,” says LaRue.
  • Darrell Wilcox
LaRue’s migration to Missoula happened when a friend suggested she get involved in the visual art component of the Zootown Fringe Festival happening this weekend. She saw the opportunity to encourage the controversial art she had been rallying for in a different community.

“I had a list of the ones I didn’t want to be lost — powerful painters that don’t get the recognition they deserve in Spokane,” says LaRue.

Six of the seven artists featured in this show are from Spokane, including Darrell Wilcox, whose six paintings in the exhibit communicate the elements and injustices in society that terrify him. As of late, he has received an angry response from the community concerning the brashness of his subject matter. He feels like this is where Spokane shows its extreme conservatism.

"In the past, it was the artists that started to initiate dialogue in paintings," says Wilcox, who has been painting since the 1970s. "I don’t see that anymore.”

His work was removed from a downtown Spokane gallery after the overwhelmingly upset response of community members. 

Shannon Halberstadt, the executive director of Spokane Arts, the city's arts non-profit, agrees that Spokane's art spaces can be overly buttoned-down, especially when it comes to nudity and that isn't doing the city's culture any favors.

"There are actually many galleries that don’t accept nudes and that can be mind boggling," says Halberstadt. "If we want to have a truly vibrant art world, then we should be a little more inclusive of what art is. Art inherently is going to push the edges and if you aren’t including any reflection of nudity or anything that’s unpleasant, that’s not going to help."

All seven artists in the "Not From Here" exhibit have included written descriptions of their message and process to encourage the discussion of themes behind the provocative pieces.

  • Ryan Babcock
The show opened last night, and generated the buzz and positive feedback that LaRue and the others had hoped for. Many expressed their appreciation for the emotionally challenging subjects on a canvas of comments that will be turned into an art piece for an anticipated sequel exhibit.

LaRue saw the contrast in community reaction through the response of people who were taken aback by the bluntness. “Even if it is offensive, they want to leave it. They don’t want the uncomfortable to just go away," she says.

The curator and team of artists want to stay connected and continue in the future with similar shows. LaRue hopes to bring the show back to Spokane, but won't soften the boundary-pushing subject matter.

"We want a vacant space, a warehouse or something that isn't typical. Something that isn't downtown," she says.

Art Invasion: Not From Here • 300 S. Third St. W., Missoula • Through Sun, Aug. 17

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Four days left to submit poems for the new "Railtown Almanac"

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 4:53 PM

In conjunction with the upcoming Create Spokane Arts Month in October, Spokane Poet Laureate Thom Caraway is overseeing the curation of a new anthology of poetry about Spokane and by Spokane-based poets, called the Railtown Almanac


While the collection has already received more than 50 submissions since a call went out earlier this summer, there's still time to submit your work for consideration. The deadline is this Friday, Aug. 15. Caraway hopes to receive work from poets and writers of all ages and backgrounds, including high school students. 

In an email to the Inlander, Caraway says the seed for the idea was planted after he was chosen as the city's Poet Laureate last October. 

"One of the things I wanted to promote was the huge diversity of talented poets living in Spokane, in so many different stages in their careers," he writes. "I think some people know about EWU's MFA program, various university reading series, and other people know about the Spokane Poetry Slam... but there hasn't really been a comprehensive collection of all the different kinds of work going on in town."

Caraway was also partly inspired to create the collection after seeing the success of the local writer anthology Spokane Shorties, released in April as a fundraiser for the annual Get Lit! literary series. 

Railtown Almanac is to be co-edited by Caraway and Jeffrey G. Dodd, and published locally by Sage Hill Press. Writers can submit up to five poems about Spokane, or, if they're residents of the area, they can also include poems on any subject. Both previously published and unpublished work is accepted, and submissions are open to all ages and staged of writers, "from high school kids to retired folk," Caraway notes.

Poems can be submitted online, via a link on the Sage Hill Press website.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

ARTS: A big month for local theater starting tonight

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Though the summer months aren't typically known as a busy time for local theater groups, the next few weeks are packed full of stage shows across the Inland Northwest. Several new performances open tonight, and even into next week with the arrival of Broadway's touring production of The Book of Mormon at the INB Performing Arts Center, opening next Tuesday. May other local performances are continuing their runs for a few more weeks before the fall season starts.

Cast of The Addams Family musical. - COURTESY OF CDA SUMMER THEATRE
  • Courtesy of CDA Summer Theatre
  • Cast of The Addams Family musical.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY | Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre brings this new musical to life for this first time in this region, starting tonight. Opening weekend student rush tickets are also available for $10 with proof of school ID.
Aug. 7-24 • Thur-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun at 2 pm • $27-$49 • Kroc Center, 1765 W. Golf Course Rd.

LEGALLY BLONDE | Beginning tomorrow night, a cast of young, local actors in grades 7-12 tell the story of Elle Woods, a blonde fashion-focused sorority girl who decides to attends Harvard Law. Opens Friday. 
Aug. 8-17 • Wed-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2 pm • $10-$19 • Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard •

EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL | A group of college students spend a weekend at an abandoned cabin in this one-night-only rock musical based on the Evil Dead horror films. This production lets audience members get close to the action with "splatter zones" in the front rows. 
Sat, Aug. 9 • Showing at 6 pm and 9:15 pm • $29-$34 • Riverside Place, 1108  W. Riverside •

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN | Christian Youth Theater - Spokane's stage adaptation of the classic film depicts actors discovering the ways their lives will change as silent films fade to cinema with sound. 
Through Aug. 9 • Fri-Sat at 7 pm, Sat at 2 pm • $13-$14 • Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague •

Cast of Avenue Q - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Cast of Avenue Q

AVENUE Q | Sesame Street-style puppets and adulthood meet in this hilarious musical. The themes in this show may not be appropriate for young children. 
Through Aug. 9 • Thur-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun at 2 pm • $14-$20 • Lake City Playhouse, 1320 E. Garden Ave. •

THE ODD COUPLE | Two opposite personalities attempt to coexist as roommates in this one-time staged reading by Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre. 
Wed, Aug. 13 • 7:30 pm • $25 • Kroc Center, 1765 W. Golf Course Rd. •

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM | Fairies, lovers and a play within a play in this Shakespeare classic remind us that the course of true love, and life, never did run smoothly. 
Through Aug. 17 • Wed-Sun, show times vary • $12-$28 • Interplayers Theater, 174 S. Howard •

Cast members from CdA Murder Mystery Theatre. - COURTESY OF CDA MURDER MYSTERY THEATRE
  • Courtesy of CdA Murder Mystery Theatre
  • Cast members from CdA Murder Mystery Theatre.

COEUR D'ALENE MURDER MYSTERY THEATRE | There are still two evenings of mystery left in this summer series. Each show has a limit of 50 people, so reserve your spot in advance.
"Mafia Murders" on Aug. 15 and "A Taste for Wine and Murder" on Aug. 22 • $30-$35 • Coeur d'Alene Cellars • 3890 N Schreiber Way, Coeur d'Alene •

THE EMPIRE SINGS FLAT | A heroic hand model attempts to save the princess from the dastardly Dorf Vader in this original, locally-written, Western-themed melodrama.
Through Aug. 24 • Wed-Sat at 7 pm, Sun at 2 pm • $16-$18 • Sixth Street Theater, 212 Sixth St., Wallace •

THE BOOK OF MORMON | Written by the creators of South Park — Trey Parker and Matt Stone — this nine-time Tony award winning musical has seen great success since it opened on Broadway in 2011. Its music was also co-written with one of the composers and lyricists of Avenue Q, Robert Lopez. 
Aug. 12-17 • Showtimes vary • $45-$155 • INB Performing Arts Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. •

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