Celebrating Women’s History Month

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To celebrate Women’s History Month, we are highlighting creative women-led organizations and individuals who are making a difference in the creative industry and community.

Rain City Rock Camp

Rain City Rock Camp’s mission is to empower girls, women and gender non-conforming individuals to engage their creative potential through music, champion equity, and thrive in a community of allies and activists. We had the opportunity to talk with Natalie Walker, executive director and cofounder of RCRC, about their creativity, resiliency and impact in the community.

OFM: What are some successes in establishing or expanding RCRC?

Natalie Walker: Community building is an integral part of Rain City Rock Camp’s success and core to our values. One of the curricular focuses in our programming is the importance of becoming a leader and activist in all aspects of life. We do not measure the success of our programs by how well a camper plays their instrument or whether they go on to release a record, but rather by the positive impact they have in the lives of those they interact with outside of Rain City Rock Camp. It is through their actions we can achieve an equitable world where creativity is celebrated, authenticity embraced and all voices valued.

What are some challenges you faced in the industry or during the pandemic?

Access to cultural space has been an ongoing challenge. We constantly struggled with finding and securing locations for our programs since they require a lot of space and we also need room to make noise. Although space was not an issue during the pandemic, we had to reinvent how we administer our programs while remaining true to the core pillars of our mission. Instrument instruction, band practice, social justice workshops and assemblies all shifted to virtual platforms. We also had to balance the shifting needs of families regarding out of school time, technology access disparities, funding shifting away from the arts, constantly changing regulations, and dramatic losses in program and event income.

What type of support would you like to see from the community or organizations?

Continue relief and aid services specifically for musicians and music nonprofits. It is important to recognize that music and arts education are essential to the growth and development of youth, as well as the culture within this city. We need music and community now more than ever.

What are some ways to get involved?

Sign up for camp! We have an upcoming Adult Rock Camp and we would love to encourage all women, Black, Indigenous, people of color, trans and gender expansive individuals to apply. No music experience is required, and you do not have to live in Seattle or Washington State to be eligible.

Attend RCRC’s virtual gala! We are hosting a gala on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. with performances, speeches, an auction and the opportunity to mingle with members of the community.

Rain City Rock Camp is a community of loyal, engaged and passionate volunteers. Sign up to volunteer!

Crybaby Studios and Solarium Creative Works

Crybaby Studios was established in 1999 and provides Seattle with an important creative space for musicians to develop their craft. Crybaby Studios is a vital institution keeping the city culturally diverse and making lives better and provides opportunities for musicians to develop their careers. Leigh Stone, owner and musician, notes that Crybaby is a community hub for collaboration and community, a sanctuary where artists can create and find independence. The space is in the urban core at 1514 11th Avenue and where musicians can be as loud as they want for 24 hours a day.

Leigh founded Solarium Creative Works to continue to envision long term equitable access to creative spaces in urban cores for every demographic. Solarium is the nonprofit that will be responsible for offering the Crybaby Studios Residency, a quarterly residency that provides an artist or group of artists with a rehearsal studio and resources. It gives creatives from underrepresented groups studio space without having to pay rent, which allows musicians to practice performances, record, celebrate and more. Musicians can also use this time to work on their solo album or independent work without worrying about rent. In addition to removing this rent barrier, having a Residency also helps artists apply for other grants or opportunities to grow their business.

During the pandemic, Leigh was able to relieve rent for a few months for musicians who lost employment or opportunities thanks to the Crybaby community who raised enough money to support each other. One of the challenges creatives are facing is that there are lots of restrictions to rent spaces, particularly with having to prove triple net rent or up to six months income in the bank, so there is practically no entry point for those without resources. Because of this, supporting organizations who are focused on expanding access to creative space for every demographic will be pivotal to the health of the creative industries in Seattle.

What are some ways to get involved?

The Crybaby Studios Residency hosts a show once a year to raise funds. This June, join Moon Palace, Bijoux and Matt Badger in a streaming virtual reality event hosted by Crybaby Studios to launch the Solarium-sponsored 2022 Residency. The hope is to raise $5,000 to fund the Residency for four recipients. If there are more funds raised, then more creatives can be accepted into the program. You can donate now and fund an artist’s dream!  

If you are interested in applying for the 2022 Residency, applications will open in October. Follow Crybaby Studios on Instagram for more updates.

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