Jack Straw Productions Special Projects

Jack Straw Productions works closely with arts and heritage organizations and community groups to develop and implement special projects. We record and document cultural heritage, encourage new works among contemporary composers, and conduct interviews and oral histories for radio, for audio guides, and for podcasts.

Current, Ongoing, & Recent
Special Projects
Special Artist Projects
Special Community Projects

Current and Ongoing Special Projects

Until We Meet Again, Featuring a Somali Cultural Performance

In a partnership with the Somali Youth and Family Club, Northwest Folklife, and photographer Doug Plummer, Jack Straw Productions documented the development and production of two Somali cultural performances. Working closely with the partners, the Somali Youth and Family Club embarked on a special project to bring the Somali community together and showcase the culture.

Read more and hear the episodes of the radio series here.

KRAB Radio Archive: Roger Sale: Writing a History of Seattle

This 21-part radio series, featuring University of Washington English professor Roger Sale, was originally broadcast on KRAB Radio in 1970. It traces the development of Seattle as a city from the arrival of early settlers through the early 1900s leading up to World War I. These programs were based on Sale’s research for his book about the history of Seattle, Seattle Past to Present, first published in 1976. Jack Straw Productions recently digitized this series, with support from 4Culture, as part of an effort to preserve our KRAB Radio and other Jack Straw archived collections.

Read more and hear excerpts from the series here.

Celebrating the 1962 Seattle World's Fair

Jack Straw is pleased to join forces with Seattle Center, Denny International Middle School, The Museum of History and Industry, HistoryLink.org, 4Culture, KCTS, KUOW, and KBCS to produce radio programs, education programs, an audio/cell phone tour, and live performances celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair at the Seattle Center.

See our pages devoted to these projects at www.jackstraw.org/thefair for more information and regular updates.

Modern Talk: NW Architects Oral History Project

Jack Straw partnered with Docomomo WEWA (Documentation of the Modern Movement, Western Washington) to document the lives and work of local architects who forged modern design in the Puget Sound area. Among architects interviewed are Ralph Anderson, Fred Bassetti, Wendell Lovett, and Gene Zema. Selected audio clips and photographs of the architects’ work are being shared on the Docomomo web site. To learn more about the project and the architects, please visit the project page atDocomomo WEWA.

University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, DM 2491

Lake Union and Portage Bay Oral History Project

This oral history project captures memories and stories of Lake Union and Portage Bay from a range of community experts and elders. We interviewed long-time houseboat residents, bridge tenders, shipbuilders, architects, and other local figures with a connection to the lake. The focus of interviews is the history and development of the lakeside neighborhoods. You can view a presentation of photos and selected audio clips here.

Seattle Art Museum Audio Guide

Jack Straw produced the new audio guide for the permanent collection at the Seattle Art Museum. Working in collaboration with artists, scholars, curators, and musicians, our team created audio segments that include interview clips, narration, and music. Some music in the guide was provided by musicians that participated in the Jack Straw Artist Support Program. The audio guide was launched in May 2007 when the museum expansion was completed. You can listen to the audio guide online here.

(c) Lara Swimmer Photography

Museum of Glass Audio Guide

In partnership with Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences (AVIA), Jack Straw produced an audio guide for Contrasts: A Glass Primer, a current exhibition at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. The exhibit highlights different styles of glass art, and uses contrasts within the works to introduce visitors to the medium. The audio guide, designed to facilitate a museum visit for visually impaired individuals, also enhances the experience for sighted visitors. It is comprised of three parts: directions to guide you through the exhibit, descriptions of the art on view, and interpretive comments by the exhibit’s curator, Vicki Halper. To learn more about Contrasts, visit the Museum of Glass web site.

Arboretum and Center for Urban Horticulture Audio Guide

Jack Straw produced the audio guide for the Pacific Connections Garden in the Arboretum, a 12-acre swath of the park that has undergone a major renovation. The new garden features plants from five geographic zones: Central Chile, China, New Zealand, Southeastern Australia, and Cascadia (the Pacific Northwest). The audio guide provides visitors with information about iconic plants from each region. The project also includes an audio guide for the gardens at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

You can listen to the audio guide here.

Green ACRE Radio

Martha Baskin and Jack Straw Productions present Green ACRE Radio, bringing you the Agricultural, Conservation, Resource, and Environmental information you need every week on KBCS FM. Check out the Green ACRE blog or the KBCS site to listen to and read about the episodes.

Image by flickr user faeryboots.

Native American Stories of Washington

Native American Stories of Washington is a project designed to document and preserve stories and legends (with professional quality recordings), as told by some of Washington state’s important Native American tradition bearers from the Lummi, Yakama, Jamestown S’Klallam, Chehalis, Skokomish (Twana), Quinalt and Squaxin tribes.  It was coordinated by Northwest Heritage Resources, in partnership with Jack Straw Productions and the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center at The Evergreen State College.  

Native American elders and storytellers from Washington state who have been recorded for the project in 2008:
Virginia Beavert - Yakama; Pauline Hillaire - Lummi; Curtis DuPuis - Chehalis; Delbert Miller - Skokomish; Elaine Grinnell – Jamestown S’Klallam; Harvest Moon – Quinalt; Cecil Cheeka – Makah & Squaxin

NEW! – CD recording made as part of this project

Lummi Legends: Pauline Hillaire
CD includes 6 traditional Lummi legends as told to Pauline by her father, Kwul-Kwul-‘tu (Joseph Hillaire).
To order, go to cdbaby.com/cd/hillaire
CDs can also be purchased directly from Pauline Hillaire or Northwest Heritage Resources.

This project was funded in part by the Folk & Traditional Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, and we also wish to extend our thanks to the Washington State Arts Commission for ongoing support.

Chehalis storyteller Curtis DuPuis recording stories in a studio at Jack Straw Productions.

Yakama elder and storyteller Virginia Beavert in the recording studio at Jack Straw Productions.

Recent Special Projects

Descriptive Tours and Concerts at the Olympic Sculpture Park

Jack Straw partnered with Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences (AVIA) and the Seattle Art Museum to provide accessible tours of the art in Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park for the first time for blind and visually impaired audiences. Jack Straw Executive Director Joan Rabinowitz and Jesse Minkert, Executive Director of AVIA, developed a joint program in which Minkert provided walking audio described tours of the art in the Olympic Sculpture Park, along with performances by artists from the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Read more and see photos and videos from the tour here.

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Centennial Radio Project

Jack Straw and producer Harriet Baskas have partnered to produce a series of short radio pieces about the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. You can read all about it and listen to the first piece in the series at the AYP Centennial Radio Project site.

Jack Straw/AIR Live-Interactive Residency

Jack Straw partnered with the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) and KUOW for the Live-Interactive Residency. We hosted resident Hammad Ahmed, who started RadioLingual, a new project to increase the diversity of voices, accents, and languages on the radio airwaves. Hammad and his partner Emily Eagle will co-create radio broadcasts and podcasts with English Language Learners in person and via the Web.

Some of Hammad and Emily's RadioLingual work was broadcast on Listen Up! Northwest episode 49, which is all about language. Listen to the whole episode here.

The Live-Interactive Residency is a project of The Association of Independents in Radio (AIR), Jack Straw Productions, & KUOW. Support for the project comes from AIR, Jack Straw, KUOW, and their members, and from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art. Special thanks to University of Washington ELL programs, University Presbyterian Church Language Institute, and the Seattle Public Library.

The Young Playwrights Program

The Young Playwrights program and festival is an educational writing program directed by the non-profit organization Southeast Effective Development (SEED) in Seattle's Rainier Valley neighborhood.  A professional playwright goes into public middle and high schools in the inner city to teach this form of writing.  At the end of the program, a number of student plays are picked for a community performance.

Yuko Kodama journeyed through interviews with professional playwrights, educators, and performance directors - not to mention through the halls of Franklin High School - to find out more about this program.  What she discovered were the stories about the youth behind the plays and concern by both youth and educators about the diminishing arts programs in the public schools. 

Yuko's feature was supported by the Association of Independents in Radio and Jack Straw Productions' artist residency programs. It was aired on KBCS FM and Listen Up! Northwest. You can listen to the piece by clicking on the 'play' button below:

Some of the young playwrights Yuko worked with in Jack Straw's studios.

Special Artist Projects
Traditional Artist Support Program

Jack Straw has been documenting and presenting the Northwest's best traditional music performers of various world cultures. The Traditional Artist Support Program features performers from India, Korea, Mexico and Puerto Rico. "Safarini" features musicians originally from the African Continent.

Korean Music Concert Series

In the spring of 1997, Jack Straw produced a series of Korean music concerts in co-sponsorship with the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

This series presents a unique opportunity to hear three masters of kayagum perform three distinctive musical styles of sanjo, or instrumental solo accompanied by a drummer. Literally meaning "scattered melodies," sanjo is a popular form developed in the late 19th century from shamanistic ritual music in southwestern Korea. Initial slow sections challenge the performers skill in creating subtle tonal variations, while concluding fast sections are virtuostic displays.

Performers in this concert series included Jung-Ae Lee, Moon-Jin Choi, and Hye-Jin Chang

Composers-in Residence

Special funding provided for long-term residencies by local composers. These composers created and recorded new works, engaged the community through education projects and composers talks at Jack Straw Productions. Past compsers-in-Residence include:

VirtualConcert /Music in Motion

Created by composer Mark Weber, Joseph Franklin of the Relache Ensemble in Philadelphia and Suzanne Fetscher of the Atlantic Center for Arts, the VirtualConcert was an exploration of the creative uses of the internet for the composition of music. During two residencies at Jack Straw, the West Coast site of this national project, the California EAR Unit assembled works of music intended to be experienced both online and at concerts in the real world.

Please investigate the East Coast component of this project to see what Mark Weber and the Relache ensemble are constructing at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida.

Music In Motion was created by Joseph Franklin, Founding Director of Relache and Metadesign Associates (META) in association with Suzanne Fetscher, Executive Director of Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) with funds provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The mission of Music in Motion is to build audiences for the musical arts through a national network of collaborative residencies among composers, performing ensembles and host sites in the context of a variety of community outreach activities. The VirtualConcert is the second phase of the Music in Motion project.

In the first phase of this project, Jack Straw Productions hosted a Music in Motion Event at its studios on March 8th, 1996. Zeitgeist, a new music ensemble from Minneapolis, played works in progress by Music In Motion commissioned composers Jarrad Powell and David Mahler, in addition to performing compositions by Tony Stark and W.C. Handy.

Erik Satie's Vexations

Jack Straw presented the Seattle area's first ever full performance of Erik Satie's "Vexations," played 840 times consecutively. The performance started at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 15th, 2010, included 29 pianists, and lasted 19 hours and 20 minutes.

See our Vexations site to read all about it!

JS 50: Jack Straw's 50th Anniversary Performance Celebration 

In celebration of our 50th birthday, Jack Straw Productions presented 25 straight hours of music, literary, and other performance from alumni of our artist residencies. Performances and readings occured concurrently in Jack Straw's studio and gallery spaces, resulting in 50 hours of artists reflecting Jack Straw's deep and diverse commitment to the arts.

See the archived schedule at our JS 50 page, and subscribe to our Artist of the Week podcast to hear recorded excerpts from the performance.

Special Community Projects
"Salmon in the City"

The "Salmon in the City" project celebrates the presence and heritage of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. In May 2001, fifteen temporary artworks were commissioned within the City of Seattle to create awareness of the recent listing of Chinook Salmon as endangered under the Endangered Species act of the United States. Jack Straw was a partner in two projects, "Salmon Suite" by poet Judith Roche and "Salmon Cycle" by artist Jim Pridgeon.

University District Public Art & Culture Audio Tour

Produced in 2000-2001, this audio walking tour is a fun way to explore and learn about public art and architecture in Seattle's University District. The audio tour kit can be checked out from 3 venues including Jack Straw. You can download the map on the Seattle Arts Commission website and listen to the audio clips on the Seattle Greater University Chamber of Commerce site.

Beacon Library Neighborhood Writers

With the building of the new Beacon Hill Branch of the Seattle Public Library, a call was made to Beacon Hill area writers to be featured in an ongoing audio installation. Seven writers were selected, and after participating in vocal workshops, conducted studio recordings of their original writing at Jack Straw Productions. These recordings can be heard in the entryway and patio of the library.

ArtsUp Partnership Projects

Artist Residencies Transforming Seattle's Urban Places : ARTS UP

A project of Seattle's Office of Arts and Culture Affairs, ArtsUp is designed to encourage creative interaction between artists and communities, by teaming community groups with artists to produce art projects exploring community issues.

This unique program defines community very broadly, not only by geographic or ethnic boundaries, but also by shared interests or lived experience. The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs seeks to recognize our city's diversity and complexity in the selection of communities for ARTS UP.

Jack Straw Productions played a central role in audio production and advising for the following projects:

  • Kawabe Memorial House and Rene Yung
  • Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets and Bradley McCallum (project site: "Endurance")
  • Neighborhood House and Celine Rich
  • Sacajawea Elementary School and Janice Giteck

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