Always All Ages Since 2001
The Vera Project, based on VERA Groningen in the Netherlands, was founded in 2001 by Shannon Stewart, James Keblas, and Kate Becker to bring accessible, all-ages music back to the city of Seattle. At the time, legislation called the Teen Dance Ordinance essentially banned all-ages and youth-driven concerts by making events with underage attendees prohibitively expensive and nearly impossible to produce. This intentional and draconian exclusion of young people from the music scene, which also disproportionately impacted our BIPOC communities, stifled creativity and hindered local social movements for years to come. VERA members fought for all-ages music in the early years by putting on shows in rented concert halls and the basement of the local electrical workers union (Local 46) with hundreds of young volunteers, all while working collaboratively to overturn the ordinance and gain city support.
VERA is Home
In 2002, Vera moved into a full-time space in downtown Seattle, and legislation was finally passed to ease the restrictions on all-ages music. The new full-time space allowed Vera to expand its music and arts programming from volunteer-driven concerts to education centered on peer learning, including an art gallery, silkscreen studio, sound engineering classes, internships, breakdance classes, musicians’ resources, and much more. When downtown redevelopment forced Vera to leave its space in 2006, the organization launched the Viva Vera capital campaign to create a custom-designed venue in the Northwest Rooms at Seattle Center, which boasts a 362-capacity showroom and dedicated gallery, silkscreen studio and recording studio. Opened in February 2007, Vera’s long-term home has allowed us to continue in our tradition of offering innovative, all-ages, and youth-led music & arts programming.
“Veri Et Recti Amici”
VERA’s name comes from the Latin phrase, “Veri Et Recti Amici”, which translates to “True and Sincere Friends”, emphasizing the strong community that made the space possible and continues to guide our work. As of 2020, Over 350,000 true and sincere friends have come through the doors of our home at The Vera Project, and thousands of members and volunteers have shaped organization’s past and future. Vera’s volunteer-fueled, participatory approach has garnered national and international attention, serving as a model and inspiration for many all-ages organizations in other cities, including in Reno, NV and Olympia, WA. Vera successfully carved out a space for youth-driven music and art in Seattle, and has become a leader in a larger national movement that defines a culture of all-ages, participatory music and art.