Vera Stories ❤

The community members who shape Vera, both past and present, go on to pursue their dreams and shape the world beyond our walls. We’d like to take a moment each week to shine a spotlight on one of the many hardworking people and organizations who have helped shaped Vera and been shaped BY Vera.

THIS WEEK’S VERA STORY IS…

– Aubrie Kalis –

aubrie-smaller

“The Vera Project is a place I am proud to call my second home. When I volunteered at my first show, I didn’t realize how much my life would change for the better. Vera is a place that I can feel like an equal with any group of people, as well as giving me the ability to voice my opinion and have it be heard. Some of my closest friendships have begun through Vera, and I am always meeting new folks who positively impact my life and shape me into the person I want to become. As I continued to work more with Vera, the little venue became more and more important to me. I would volunteer more often, and now, you can catch me here every week. Moving up from a simple show volunteer, to a member, and then becoming the Volunteer Coordinator as well as co-chairing the Steering Committee- it has all deepened my love for this small space.”

Age: 17
Occupation: Student, barista, Age at Vera: 15-present
How are/were you involved: Steering committee chair & Volunteer coordinator intern

 

– Elizabeth Mazé –

2016-elizabeth-maze

“I accidentally went to the first Vera Project show at the Local 46 in Belltown, not knowing anything about the organization, but just because the Murder City Devils, Blood Brothers, and Botch were playing. I would walk a very short path over semi-hot coals to see that show again. That lineup is indicative of what The Vera Project has been about from the beginning: giving amazing arts access to people of all ages. Instead of having to hang outside in the parking lot listening to the show we couldn’t get into, Vera created consistent all-ages music access in a city that vilified youth engagement and made it financially prohibitive for venues to throw events that allowed minors in the building. I immediately wanted to be a part of Vera.

I’ve had the incredible fortune of being welcomed into this community and shown so much love and appreciation through my trajectory as a volunteer, member, intern, and staff member. Vera helped shape me as a young person, encouraging my growth and development and interests, and then welcomed me back as an adult who wanted to help cultivate and steward an environment that meant so much to me. We have a rare and delicate space that welcomes everyone, allows people to find community, encourages growth in uncomfortable and important ways, and lets people choose their own adventure. Vera was born out of political advocacy and continues to provide vital services to our Seattle arts community by exalting youth voices and creating an equitable space for people to learn & grow. Vera is important and impactful and I’m so grateful it exists.” 

 
Age: 25 forever
Occupation: Office & HR Manager for The Derschang Group
Age at Vera: 12-present
How are/were you involved: Everything! Volunteer, member, intern, staff

 

 

– Jessica Schollmeyer –

2016-jessica-schollmeyer

“I’ve gone from volunteering, to becoming a member, to joining the steering committee, to becoming chair of steering, to finally getting hired as a staff member about 5 months ago. When I walked through the doors on day one, I had no idea how important and influential Vera would be to my life.

I’ve had some of my best memories with Vera, and it’s all because of the people I’ve met here.The volunteers and members here are what really make the organization. They are kind, supportive, accepting, adaptable, and filled with love for Vera (as well as love for memes and dogs). It was incredible to come into the space and not have my age matter at all. I was respected by people younger and older than me, and trusted to take on responsibility despite my age. It’s given me confidence to take on the world, and make my influence known, despite any internalized barriers. It has shown me that I don’t have to settle for the way things have always been, I can dream and improve.” 

Age: 18
Occupation: Participation Coordinator at The Vera Project
Hometown: Shoreline, WA
Age when at Vera: 16-present
How are/were you involved: started as a volunteer, now a staff member!

 

– Barsuk Records –

barsuk records (smaller)

“Everyone at Barsuk remembers not being able to go see our favorite bands, or really any bands, because there were no all-ages venues where we lived. The Vera Project is what we all wished for and when we were growing up, and we’re so pleased we can help it continue to grow and thrive here in Seattle. Any art and music scene needs to be constantly re-engergized by the next generation of artists and musicians. Without it, any art scene would dry up and collapse. We want Seattle to continue to be one of the great creative centers of music and art, and The Vera Project serves a vital function of creating a positive place for youth to learn about and participate in a thriving creative environment. Viva Vera!”

Barsuk Records, Seattle-based independent record label since 1994
www.barsuk.com

– Amy Piñon –

amy pinon

Age: 24
Occupation: Media and Documentation at Arts Corps, Ukulele Teaching Artist
Hometown: Burien
Current Home: Seattle
Age when at Vera: 19 – Present
How were you involved: Current FOH audio engineer, audio instructor, Audio Committee Member, and Board Member

“Vera is where I found my voice. After meandering around in pretty much all of the committees, I found a home in the audio committee, and now I’m on the Board of Directors so I’m a board liaison for that group. I know that I would not be so involved and connected in the arts community in Seattle without Vera. Every interaction I’ve had within Vera has shaped me in some way, and I have made so many true and sincere friends. I just can’t imagine where my life would be without Vera for all the people I’ve met through it, all the opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten without it, and the personal growth I’ve experienced just because this amazing place – this community – exists.”

Check out what Amy has been up to here: http://www.artscorps.org/2014/09/arts-corps-spotlight-amy-pinon/

– SHANNON HALBERSTADT –

shannon halberstadt

Age: 45
Occupation: Executive Director at Artist TrustHometown: Seattle
Current Home: Renton
Age when at Vera: 30 and up

“There are so many memorable experiences at Vera. It was central to my life for so long. The first show at the newly completed Seattle Center venue was huge for us. The Vera team had worked so hard to bring this dream to fruition. We were seriously sweeping up the last of the construction dust just hours before doors opened. It felt great to see the space we had worked so hard to create full of people, art and music. When the Vera Project first started, it was a major force in Seattle and difficult NOT to be involved. It was gorgeous mashup of art, music and activism, and something people were eager to support. I was working at the Old Fire House in Redmond at the time, and ties were very tight between the two all-ages venues. Kate Becker was a great leader at both venues back then. I’ve met so many people through the Vera Project who have changed life. It’s truly a special place full of inspired, smart, fun people.

Check out what Shannon has been up to at Artist Trust here: http://washingtonfilmworks.org/washington-filmworks-news/artist-trust-a-new-resource-for-washington-filmmakers

 

– RAYA LEARY –

Raya Leary (smaller)

Age: 23
Occupation: Outreach & Promotions Coordinator at 4Culture, Show Manager at Vera
Hometown: Seattle
Current Home: Seattle
Age when at Vera: 16-present

“When I came to that first show, I didn’t actually have enough money get a ticket. Someone from the venue gave me a stamp and let me in and I had the most amazing time. When I found out that you could volunteer there I jumped at the opportunity, I wanted to repay that kindness. After volunteering, steering, and show managing at Vera over the years I’ve also met some of the most important people in my world.”

Check out what Raya has been up to at 4Culture! She is also a co-founder of risograph printing and publishing company Cold Cube Press.

 

 

– LIZ PFRIEM –

LIZ PFRIEM

Age: 28
Occupation: Assistant Music Supervisor at Agoraphone Music Direction
Hometown: Edmonds, WA
Current Home: Brooklyn, NY
Age when at Vera: 16-26

“I started going to shows at Vera when I was in high school, became the outreach coordinator as a Sophomore in college, stayed involved on the programming committee, and then participated in the fundraising committee and gala planning.

In 2010 I had just moved back to Seattle to transfer to UW. I was looking for internships relating to music and art. I saw Vera post an opening on Myspace (lol) so I applied. Getting involved with Vera was a bit random, but the reason I stayed involved  for so long was that they gave me an opportunity to succeed on my own in any aspect I participated in. It was a safe place to come up with ideas and learn how a music organization works from top to bottom.

Whether it was fellow members and volunteers who I now consider life long friends or staff members of the board who have helped me in my career path, most of my good friends and mentors can somehow be linked back to Vera. Shannon Roach was a big mentor to me and we later worked together at The Recording Academy, which was a dream come true. Vera is where I learned you could have a career in music and gave me the skills to make that a reality. There’s no other place in Seattle that youth can feel empowered and have ownership over so much of an organization.”

Check out what Liz has been up to at Agoraphone, like this La Luz placement in a beer ad!. She also hosts Broad::Sounds, a bi weekly radio show on Newtown Radio exploring underground techno, house, ambient, experimental, r&b, and pop made by female -identified artists.

 

 

 

– JASMIN KWAN –

jasmin kwan (updated)

Age: 24
Day Job: Development Director at Skate Like a Girl
Hometown(s): Kent, Wa & Ballard
Current: Fremont
Age at Vera: 14 – current (as show manager)

“I wanted to be a part of Vera because I felt valued and music was so accessible for the all ages crowd. In 2008, I started working backstage at Sasquatch Music Festival, and working at Vera gave me the confidence to work with the “big shots.” Had it not been for Josh [Powell, former Programming Director], I’m not sure I would’ve had confidence that I could handle working in a 30,000 person venue. Having the experiences Josh placed into my hands at such a young age influenced the rest of my life choices and opportunities…”

Find out more about Jasmin’s work with Skate Like a Girl here: http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/950462-129/the-women-that-rock-seattle-to

Help us create more opportunities for rad people like Jasmin by making a gift today!
 
How to donate…
Mail a check! Our mailing address is 305 Harrison St. Seattle, WA 98109
Donate online! Make a one time donation or become a monthly donor!
 
Questions? Contact our Fundraising & Development Coordinator, Katherine Humphreys, at katherineh@theveraproject.org