It’s finally show time for the new Volunteer Park Amphitheater
Start recording your Cover Spaces Now: Community leaders will unveil the new Volunteer Park Amphitheater this Saturday afternoon during a grand opening celebration.
The historic park’s first new building in more than 50 years will usher in more diverse and safer community entertainment after a lengthy design and construction process. First on the register is the Volunteer Park Trust-produced Summer Series at the Amphitheater – six free shows on Thursday evenings from July 14 to August 18.
From a newly ADA-accessible lawn, picnickers can watch local talent on a completely recreated stage. Food trucks will flank the park for each event, adding local grub to the mix. Performances range from a Latin jazz concert to contemporary dance numbers like Whim W’Him and the Seattle Project. The new amphitheater will fill a void as the only public venue in the Seattle area specifically designed to host outdoor dance performances with a custom, sustainable stage.
Other improvements made by the $3 million project include re-grading the lawn to avoid the muddy mess of rainy winters, building bathrooms for all genders, and adding storage space in backstage and an actor’s dressing room. A sleek roof ensures the weather won’t get in the way of shows. Acoustically speaking, the hat of the amphitheater will send more of its sound out to the audience instead of up and down to the dense cluster of houses behind it.
Another novelty is a pivoting rear wall. When not in use for performances, the wall will pivot and lock into the open position, providing a view of the park and addressing security issues that arose with the old backstage area, which was hidden from view. seen. The covered pavilion can also become a hub for community yoga classes or provide space for school groups to congregate sheltered from the elements.
The old amphitheater was barely an amphitheater – an aging concrete and brick slab with a brick back wall. Performers had to provide their own tents for makeshift backstage changing rooms, portable ramps to accommodate physical limitations, and power dispensers for sound and lights. All of this has been replaced with a more accessible space.
Getting here has been a long road. The Volunteer Park Trust hired architects for the project in 2015 and persisted through a concrete workers’ strike, extremely rainy weather and pandemic-related supply chain lockdowns.
Hopefully the amphitheater itself is just as resilient.