Left to right: Normandy Park Arts Commission members Raymond Street, Nadia Counter, and Paul de Barros inside City Hall on April 10, 2024. The Arts Commission is an advisory board created in 1994 consisting of seven Normandy Park Residents aimed at promoting local arts. Photo by Maeve Smith.

By Maeve Smith
UW News Lab

The Normandy Parks Art Commission has confirmed that the Music in the Park program will return in July featuring new artists and the usual flair that accompanies the monthly events.

“That one’s probably my favorite one,” said Raymond Street, Chair of the Commission. “It’s such a core, and it has the largest capacity for variety.”

Normandy Park’s monthly Arts Commission meeting took place this Wednesday, April 10th with a special focus on the upcoming Music in The Park.

A premiere part of Normandy Park’s Art outreach, the free concerts take place in Marvista Park every Sunday in July and August.

“We like to invite artists that we think will be engaging, or interact with kids in a way that kind of shows them things about art,” Street said.

The weekly concerts offer opportunities for more than just local musicians, with space for visual and other forms of performance arts coinciding with the musical performances.

In previous years The Burien Actors Theater and The Botanical Alchemist have been notable non-musical artists present at the event. Street is excited by the potential to expand Music in the Park to include more diverse artistic mediums, hoping to include an arts booth this year showcasing a range of local visual artists.

Outside of this large yearly event, Normandy Park commits to promoting local arts in various ways. “If there is something that’s gonna be known about Normandy Park’s art support is it has always been positive,” Street says.

This support shows itself on the very walls of City Hall. The City Council chamber walls are covered from bottom to top with original paintings by local artist Naomi Benson. The Commission pays the artists they host $200 for displaying their work.

“This opportunity has felt really good,” Benson says, “I love the community support I have received.”

 The Arts Commission will be holding a reception for Benson’s work on April 26th from 7-9 pm in City Hall.

A current issue of contention for the Arts Commission is an ordinance to increase the budget from $31,000 to $42,700 annually. Street reflected on Normandy Park’s uncommonly strong support for local arts saying, “Whenever there are budget cuts the art gets the axe, but we have not had any issues with our budget.”

The ordinance to discuss the new budget will be held in May with a second ordinance in June to approve or deny.

Street is a working artist and writer himself, with a frequent collum in the B-Town Blog called Art Corner. He is passionate about seeing artists compensated for their work and not being “exploited for exposure,” as he said on the B-Town Breakdown podcast.

“My personal mission for being on the Arts Commission is to get musicians and artists paid,” Street says. He concludes by praising Normandy Park for allocating enough funds to properly pay artists and musicians. “They [Normady Park] have a budget for paying musicians and artists and it’s not focussed on fundraising.”

The Arts Commission is a group of seven residents dedicated to promoting local art in Normandy Park.