Summer is typically peek season for the arts community, from music festivals, outdoor concerts, and lively theater productions. But as with many things right now, it’s all about the pivot. Executive Director’s Patrice O’Neill, with Wintergrass, Trudi Jackson with Bellevue Youth Symphony, and Robb Hunt from the Issaqauh Village Theatre shared their current pivots and accomplishments that COVID-19 has brought to the arts in and near Bellevue, and how you can support them.

These are some of my favorite organizations and they have deep roots on the Eastside. Relying heavily on tourism, events, and donations to keep their organizations going they’ve had to get creative to continue to bring the love of the arts to their community.

The 28 year running Wintergrass festival is a four day bluegrass, and acoustic music festival that originally started in Tacoma. In 2010 they made the move to Bellevue and Executive Director Patrice O’Neil couldn’t be happier with their new home – and the amount of support they received from the Bellevue community. Drawing in over 4,000 people a year they made the hard decision to cancel their 2021 February event. That didn’t stop them from continuing to bring their passion for music to their community.

They’ve taken the Wintergrass feeling, fit into a pocket – creating Pocketgrass! A 45-minute variety show scaled to fit things you love about the Wintergrass Festival onto a small screen. Each monthly episode will feature music, magic, a story, a lightning workshop and fun for everyone in the family. A theme built around a recipe and a story will be the core of every single episode. Pocket grass will be streamed via The Wintergrass YouTube Channel – click to subscribe. Follow them on Facebook for updated Pocketgrass episodes and future events, and to keep their festival going you can help by donating on their donation page.

*The Passage, 2019 Beta production, photo by Elise Bakketun*

Robb Hunt is the Executive Director of The Village Theatre and has been with the organization since the very beginning in 1979. Based in Issaquah, WA, with operations also in Everett, Village Theatre is a leading producer of musical theatre in the Pacific Northwest. Producing entertaining, quality productions, Village Theatre has grown into one of the region’s best-attended professional theatres.

Recently celebrating their 40th year anniversary, with a heavy heart they had to shut down all current and future productions. The outpouring support from their community is what’s kept their theatre running. They’ve continued to have long time customers purchase seasonal tickets, and most importantly continued their Youth Education Programs and camps going via Zoom. Zooming into Fall with online kids classes, creating fun costumes and unique background sets. For more information on their programs check out their website, and to help donate visit their donation page.

Founded in 1963 The Bellevue Youth Symphony’s Executive Director Trudi Jackson has been helping grow their organization for the past 8 years. A nonprofit organization in Bellevue, was established to provide a positive and stimulating musical environment for Eastside youth. Now with six large orchestras and three smaller instrumental ensembles, they have been serving students ages six to 21.

March 8th they were scheduled to hold a concert with over 540 kids – and sadly they were shut down. This didn’t stop them from creating new ways to let their amazing kids share their passion for music. Setting up creative virtual solo’s, and a successful virtual fund raiser, which included 93 old Franics Walton. They’ve created fun videos online and you can or register for Fall online classes on their website. To help donate to their organization visit their donation page, and follow them on Facebook for upcoming events.

All these organizations rely heavily on fundraisers, and events to keep them alive – even a small donation can go along way to support!