Arts & Humanities Bainbridge – Empowering and Inspiring Our Creative Community

AHB Logo 2023Since Arts & Humanities Bainbridge’s (AHB) inception more than 30 years ago, they’ve achieved enormous success in promoting the island’s artistic community. The ensuing decades saw the creation of the Public Art program and committee, the installation of the island’s first official public art and the Something New rotating public art program, Currents Online Magazine, designation as a Washington State Certified Creative District, Poetry Vibes, our first Poet Laureate, grant and fundraising workshops as well as many other programs geared towards the cultural enhancement, education, and growth of our community.

Jackie Muth
Jackie Muth

This year they also said goodbye to Executive Director Inez Maubane-Jones and welcomed their new (interim) Executive Director, Jackie Muth. Jackie moved to Bainbridge from Michigan when she was 14 and attended Bainbridge High School, however, like most young people, she was eager to see the world and left as soon as she could “vowing never to return”. After Jackie and her husband Jeremy had their three sons (Grayson-10, Elliott-7, and Sheppard-3), she realized what an amazing place the island is and they happily moved back in 2021.

Jackie spent 12 years as a restauranteur before deciding to go back to school to pursue an art history degree. While there, she learned about inequity in the art world, “especially those that have access to see art. Cost of museum tickets being the most prevailing barrier. Public art removes those barriers, bringing art into the community in which people already reside,” she explained. That experience prompted her to join AHB’s public art committee in 2022, “Bainbridge Island is such a special place, it is teeming with artists and creators! It’s been such an honor to be part of AHB, the board members are incredibly active in the organization and in the community.”

AHB Public Art Walking Map of Winslow 2023Its no surprise then, that one of Jackie’s favorite AHB programs is the Something New VI project, which is part of their public art initiative. Something New is a yearly public art sculpture exhibition, which are displayed in publicly accessible locations all around the island. The program is made possible through a partnership between AHB and the City of Bainbridge Island (COBI) via AHB’s Public Art Committee. “The goal of everyone involved with AHB is to help nourish the art and humanities community on Bainbridge Island, and to give our community access to a broad offering of public art, poetry, arts in education, and driving development in our Creative District”, she said. They recently completed the selection process for Something New VI, which will debut during the August 4th First Friday Art Walk (all works in Something New VI are for sale through AHB, click here for details).

Public Art and Something New - images courtesy of AHBThe Bainbridge Creative District, which launched last year and is led by AHB and their partners, the Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Association, Visit Bainbridge,  the Multicultural Advisory Council, BI Japanese American Community and BIMA to name a few, is as unique as Bainbridge itself. Although most communities define their creative district as a small geographical area of cultural and economic activity, our creative minds have public and private studios and businesses throughout the island. To accommodate this, the committee defines our creative district as the “Glow” and encompasses our seasonal Farmer’s Market, performing arts center, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, ice-cream shops, award-winning coffee shops, artist studios, wineries, creative centers like Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network (BARN), Bloedel Reserve, and so much more.

Jackie’s vision going forward is a simple one, to see AHB continue to thrive and grow. “I see this organization as a mechanism to serve our community. The arts and humanities are community binders, helping to create culture and connectedness,” she said. “We all spent a couple of years in varied amounts of isolation during Covid, and our community is enthusiastic to reconnect and engage. I hope AHB can help to facilitate connectedness through cultural events, and highlight the treasure trove of artists, performers, makers, and literary artists in our community.”

new-currents logoAnother mechanism for continued growth is AHB’s Currents Online Magazine*.  Currents serves as the island’s cultural platform for the arts. It is updated weekly with new stories about the arts community, and has a variety of categories such as Events, which encompasses everything ranging from online to in-person classes, community events, food and drink, history, music, museums, poetry and literature, and stage performances; Stories is a collection of ongoing articles about individual local artists and all things creative in our community; Artists introduces you to our local artists in a variety of genres; Organizations provides information on businesses and organizations that support the arts; Public Art showcases the variety of sculptures that are on display through-out the island, and there are categories for Arts Education, Resources, which includes job and audition listings, grants, the Amy Award, artist calls and much more.

In addition to all the programs above, AHB is excited about the upcoming launch of their new Donor Circle program. Through the Donor Circle, members help to fund programs throughout the year that provide opportunities for artist, both young and old, to prosper and learn through art. The program also helps fund fiscal sponsorship to fledgling nonprofit organizations and individual artist grants.  “Individuals, businesses, organizations and foundations offering contributions of $500 to $10,000+ will create vital opportunities for children, adults and seniors in our community— and will receive recognition and some exciting ‘thank you’ benefits described here.” To learn more, click here.

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A little history about AHB: In the mid-1980s, Rita Kepner, a Bainbridge Island sculptor, saw a need for a centralized organization that would support and promote the island’s creative community. She began by working the phones, contacting the leaders of the island’s arts community and quickly discovered that they too saw a need to centralize their efforts and support one another.

With the early assistance of Erika Szigethy, Rita organized a group of leaders to tackle the issues at hand. After two years of animated and sometimes contentious discussions, the group decided to create an arts council. In March 1986, the Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council (BIAHC) was officially created. In 2014, BIAHC was renamed Arts & Humanities Bainbridge (AHB).

In 1989, the first Arts News newsletter was published by B.I. Arts Council, and by 1992, Arts had become a collaborative publication, which was mailed out free to all island residents. In 2000, Arts became Currents Magazine. Over the course of seven years—between 2012 and 2019—Currents Magazine was re-designed and updated as a color publication, which also included an Arts Calendar and was distributed quarterly.

Under the leadership of Patty Bell, AHB Board President and Anne Smart, former AHB Executive Director, the legacy created by the print magazine inspired Arts & Humanities Bainbridge to create an online platform that would expand on similar content and be available to everyone on and off the island, and in 2019, AHB launched Currents Online and issued its last print magazine.

*The Currents Editorial Board oversees content for the site and welcomes submissions that support the AHB mission of connecting everyone to the abundance of creativity on Bainbridge Island. Contact the editorial board at admin@ahbainbridge.org or 206.842.7901. https://www.bainbridgecurrents.com/about/

Advertisement Churchmouse Yarn and Teas Bainbridge Island
Advertisement Churchmouse Yarn and Teas Bainbridge Island

*Images and logos courtesy of Arts & Humanities Bainbridge

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