Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday with LHPAI: More of the PAI

I used to think the obvious place for a public performing arts institution would be, you know...
... within a city's arts administration. Apparently it wasn't that obvious in the late 1960s, though.
Original photo credit: Joe Mabel
Forty years ago, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center was created as part of an urban renewal initiative in Seattle's Central District (a mostly black neighborhood at the time). It was considered a performing arts and community center -- emphasis on the second use.
"Before They Die" film discussion. Credit: Purple Reels Productions
So the LHPAC joined other community centers under the Parks and Recreation Department umbrella.
Gradually, the arts aspect of the institute's mission expanded: more emphasis on professional-level performances and training. With that came a need to renovate the building itself -- a major seismic and electrical renewal that closed it to the public for two years. The doors reopened in April 2012.
In the fall, the city moved the newly-renamed Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (LHPAI) to a new niche: the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

The wonderful -- and often free -- programming focus on African Americans and the diaspora remains the same. But it's kind of cool to know more about its evolution. Settle in for a walk through the institute's history, courtesy of the Seattle Channel.

FTC disclosure: I'm partnering with the LHPAI on a series I call "Thursdays with LHPAI," generally published on Thursdays. I am being paid an honorarium for my work. However, all opinions and views expressed in this series are my own.

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