Producing Partner Selected to Reimagine Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival’s Future
Festival Producers to Provide Underserved Communities with Year-round Mentorship, Shadow Roles and Entertainment Business Learning Opportunities
Wednesday, January 12, 2022 - A reimagining is in store for Seattle’s beloved Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival, following a recent search for a new production partner conducted by Seattle Center, which selected New Rising Sun – a coalition of Seattle-based arts, entertainment, and cultural leaders – to build a sustainable structure to drive the beloved festival forward in ways that maintain its original spirit, audaciousness, and appeal.
A Seattle Center request for proposals (RFP) sought proposals which maintained the festival’s essential character of artistic and cultural excellence in ways which celebrate regional, national and international arts and entertainment. It challenged proposers to present financially sustainable, expanded production models. Respondents were asked to outline opportunities for emerging arts and forms of expression, along with making the festival more of a year-round presence. The process garnered six submissions.
Members of the Seattle Center Advisory Commission were mayoral- and Seattle City Council-appointed to serve the interests of Seattle residents, joining Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams, Director of Marketing and Business Development Marc Jones, and Center events staff in vetting the proposals, and winnowing them to three which met criteria outlined in the RFP. Following proposer presentations, the selection group was unanimous in its enthusiastic support for New Rising Sun, noting its considerable creativity, capacity and proven collaborative disposition.
“Making Bumbershoot a celebration of Seattle arts was central to this decision. After nearly two years of COVID-19 related shutdowns, our artistic communities need and deserve the level of community engagement which New Rising Sun has proposed,” said Seattle Center Advisory Commissioner Brian Robinson. “Seattle Center will work with our region’s brilliant artistic communities, philanthropic, and business partners to lead the revival of this iconic festival.”
New Rising Sun proposes the transformation of Bumbershoot into a year-round, community and nationally engaged arts and music events brand realigning the festival with Seattle’s current identity, growth and direction. The New Rising Sun team’s not-for-profit mission is to educate and seek out partnerships across the community to feature the region’s best art, food, film, comedy, music and performing arts. It will also recapture Bumbershoot’s spirit of discovery through visual arts spectacle, training and artmaking with the next generation of producers from underserved communities and focus on helping revitalize the downtown economy with a business model that attracts artists, tourists and creative culture.
"Reviving Bumbershoot with this enhanced new vision gives us the opportunity to respond to the uncertainty of the pandemic, electrify our city, and empower our communities by uniting around, revitalizing, and reinvigorating Seattle's arts, music, and cultural scenes and sectors. As we look to come together as One Seattle, Bumbershoot means sharing artistic experiences that drive thoughtful and impactful conversations and supporting the next generation of Seattle musicians and artists with meaningful avenues to learn, collaborate, and showcase their work. I'm particularly excited by efforts to uplift and empower new voices from diverse and underserved communities through deliberate curation and mentorship," said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.
New Rising Sun was founded by a team of highly experienced concert promoters, visual artists and venue operators: Steven Severin (Neumos, VenuePilot, Washington Nightlife Music Association, National Independent Venue Association), Greg Lundgren (Museum of Museums, Out of Sight, Vital 5 Productions), and Joe Paganelli (The Fillmore San Francisco, Bill Graham Presents, McCaw Hall) supported by a team of Seattle’s successful business and community leaders, activists, artists and entrepreneurs working to develop a reimagined Bumbershoot.
“Seattle arts are kick-ass, and we’re so excited to be partnering with Seattle Center to re-imagine how Bumbershoot can serve Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Our vision includes a focus on the festival’s original essential characteristics: an affordable, inclusive, and engaging arts and music spectacle designed to stimulate and delight with artistic excellence – all with a fresh and progressive focus on community engagement and participation,” said Severin.
“Bumbershoot presents a rare opportunity to support, celebrate, and amplify the great diversity of our visual and performing arts communities. Our vision and our goal are to transform this historic festival into a year-round brand which fosters youth arts education, provides opportunities to our region’s artists, elevates historically marginalized voices, and reimagines what a festival can be,” said Lundgren. “The Pacific Northwest holds the talent, technology, and wealth to support an ambitious, community-driven festival and we are honored to be given the runway to show the world what we are capable of.”
Since its beginnings in the early 1970s, Bumbershoot has grown into one of the most respected urban music festivals in the nation and a treasured part of the region’s arts, cultural and entertainment landscape. While the City of Seattle holds the “Bumbershoot” name and trademark, it has partnered with longtime Bumbershoot producer One Reel, who stepped down after the 2019 festival. Next steps come at a time of challenge and excitement for Seattle Center with plans to return events to its grounds and the recent opening of Climate Pledge Arena.
“In our role, to steward this uniquely Seattle festival, we believe we have selected a partner who will retain the spirit and tradition of Bumbershoot to celebrate the arts, culture and creativity of our region. The time is right to reinvigorate and reimagine how an urban arts festival can best serve the broad needs and desires of our community. We look forward to putting in place the framework and function to create a successful and sustainable partnership,” said Nellams.
Next steps in formulating this new partnership are to draft a letter of intent that outlines its terms then a detailed agreement that establishes parameters around use of the Seattle Center grounds and other components of a new Bumbershoot production arrangement. The timing of the next Bumbershoot Festival will be determined as part of that process.