Marcie Sillman | KUOW News and Information

Marcie Sillman

Arts and Culture Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 1985

Marcie Sillman arrived at KUOW in 1985 to produce the station's daily public affairs program, Seattle After Noon. One year later, she became the local voice of All Things Considered, NPR's flagship afternoon news magazine. After five years holding down the drive-time microphone, a new opportunity arose. Along with Dave Beck and Steve Scher, Marcie helped create Weekday, a daily, two-hour forum for newsmakers, artists and thinkers.

The new century brought new challenges. Marcie and Dave Beck created The Beat, Seattle's only broadcast program to focus specifically on arts and culture. In 2002, after more than 15 years as a daily host, Marcie decided to become a full-time cultural reporter. During her career, more than 100 of her stories have been heard on NPR's newsmagazines, as well as on The Voice of America. In 2005, she became KUOW's first special projects reporter. In this role, she produced in-depth audio portraits and documentary series about life and culture in the Puget Sound Region.

In September, 2013, Marcie was part of the team that created The Record, a daily news magazine focused on the issues and culture of the Puget Sound region. After two years as Senior Host of the program, Marcie returned to full-time cultural reporting.

Ways to Connect

Noelani Pantastico and Lucien Postlewaite in 'Romeo et Juliette' in 2008 at Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet/Angela Sterling

Lucien Postlewaite remembers exactly how he felt the first time he danced with Noelani Pantastico.

“I was this young boy,” he recalls. “I’d always admired Noe’s dancing. The first time she talked to me I was like, ‘Oh my god!’”

KUOW's Marcie Sillman with book hugger Nancy Pearl.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

KUOW's Marcie Sillman speaks with Seattle librarian and author Nancy Pearl about her first novel, "George and Lizzie."

A Public Works Seattle rehearsal
Courtesy Seattle Repertory Theatre/Jim Bennett

Racial and economic equity are priorities for government leaders and community activists in the Pacific Northwest.

The same holds true for regional arts organizations.

Ballard Locks under construction, 1913
FLICKR PHOTO/SEATTLE MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES (CC BY 2.0)/HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/4TIHT9

This story originally aired in 2005. We loved it so much that we dug it out again in honor of the Ballard Locks' 100 year anniversary on July 4, 2017.

Dancers from the Seattle troupe Bailodores de Bronce, in performance
Courtesy Bailodores de Bronces

Adrian Olivas is a small, soft-spoken man who makes his living as a horticulturalist, nurturing plant life of all kinds.

But three evenings a week, Olivas swaps his garden tools for a pair of dancing shoes. That's how he nurtures his soul.


Seattle poet Azura Tyabji has been writing poetry since eighth grade. Her big dream is to publish a book.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

When Azura Tyabji stepped up to the microphone at a community forum this spring, most of the audience members had no idea what to expect.

Seven Gabels Theatre in Seattle's University District
Flickr Photo/ javacolleen (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/ https://flic.kr/p/31fDJf

Bill Radke talks to KUOW arts reporter Marcie Sillman and Sean Nelson, arts and music editor at The Stranger, about the closing of two Landmark movie theaters in Seattle, Guild 45th and Seven Gables Theatre.  

photo by Naomi Ishisaka, courtesy Intiman Theatre

Seattle’s Intiman Theatre has a simple mission: To present work that is relevant to our times and as diverse as the community itself.

Intiman recently hired a Broadway producer to help them achieve that goal.

Philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, right, and his wife Melinda listen to the speech of France's President Francois Hollande, prior to being awarded of the Legion of Honour at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday, April 21, 2017. Philant
AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, Pool

Seattle has a rich history of big giving that goes back to the middle of the last century. As a communications officer at the Gates Foundation, Local Wonder listener Anne Martens knows a lot about philanthropy but she wanted to know more about the role giving has played in Seattle's past. We sent KUOW's Marcie Sillman to report the story.

Seattle Symphony violinist Mikhail Shmidt came to the U.S. as a refugee from the former Soviet Union.
Courtesy of Mikhail Shmidt

America has been called a nation of immigrants.

If that’s the case, then Seattle Symphony is a quintessentially American orchestra.


Seattle Mayor Ed Murray
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Mayor Ed Murray says he'll propose an income tax on Seattle's highest earners.

That puts him in company with at least one of his challengers for re-election.


A sales tax to fund arts and culture in King County will not go to voters this summer after all.

King County Council member and budget chair Dave Upthegrove has pulled the proposal from consideration by his committee because he believes it is fundamentally inequitable.

Seattle Opera General Director Aidan Lang
Facebook/Seattle Opera

Earlier this month, Seattle Opera general director Aidan Lang met with scene shop manager Michael Moore and dropped a bombshell.


Couresy of Seattle Opera/Rozarii Lynch

Bill Radke speaks with KUOW arts and culture reporter Marcie Sillman about the Seattle Opera's plan to close their scene shop in Renton.

A couple of weeks ago, Seattle Opera announced it was making budget cuts. Among them was closing the opera’s scene shop. It is a custom-made building in Renton where they build the sets.

The opera says it needs to be fiscally responsible to its donors. But whenever you tighten the purse strings, somebody feels the pain. In this instance, it’s the artisans who build the scenery for the opera.

Left: Replica of totem pole carved in early 20th century by Kwakwaka'wakw artist Charlie James in Stanley Park, Vancouver B.C. Right: A track suit produced by Adidas, design adapted from Charlie James' totem pole. Click through for more examples.
Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) and Courtesy Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Burke Museum, University of Washington

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 makes it illegal to knowingly sell non-Native made goods as authentic Native American art or craft. More than 600 fraud cases have been filed since the law's enactment.

But the IACA doesn't apply to the more widespread practice of borrowing and adapting Native imagery, themes, or traditional cultural expression on a range of commercial products.


Artist and entrepreneur Louie Gong, inside his Pike Place Market shop
Photo by Ken Yu, courtesy Louie Gong

Traces of Seattle’s Native American heritage are everywhere, from the Seahawks logo to totem poles at the Pike Place Market.

After all, Seattle is the only major American city named for a Native American chief.

A Seattle third grader auditions for Pacific Northwest Ballet's Dance Chance program.
Pacific Northwest Ballet/Lindsay Thomas

Last fall the National Endowment for the Arts awarded almost a million dollars in grants to 34 arts groups across the state, large and small. 

That money funded everything from King County’s Creative Justice Program, an alternative to youth incarceration, to a project that brings professional theater artists to rural Davenport, near the Colville reservation in eastern Washington. A significant portion of the NEA awards went to projects targetted at youth, community outreach, or rural touring programs.

The NEA also funds some of Seattle’s big arts groups.

KT Niehoff's newest performance explores extraordinary human experiences with their own bodies
Courtesy of KT Niehoff

Seattle artist KT Niehoff and her good friend Michele Miller moved to Seattle 25 years ago. They came west from New York to dance with acclaimed choreographer Pat Graney.

They had youthful enthusiasm, a passion to perform, and not much else.

Teatro Zinzanni, on lower Queen Anne in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Update: Teatro Zinzanni announced this week it will give its final performance in the Queen Anne location on Sunday, March 5th. The dinner/cabaret theater has been actively seeking a new location in central Seattle.

Zinzanni founder and director Norm Langill wrote a letter to supporters this week to break the news of the temporary closure. 

Seattle Opera declined an offer of $8 million dollars from the developer who's buying the land; an Opera spokeswoman says work on its new headquarters must begin this spring so the Opera staff can move in before the lease on its current offices expires in 2018.

Original story:

Seattle Opera will move ahead with the sale of property it owns on lower Queen Anne hill. 

That means long-time tenant Teatro Zinzanni will have to leave the square block.

Nancy Pearl
KUOW Photo

Despite the allure of technology, librarian Nancy Pearl says picture books still draw in readers of all ages.

She tells KUOW's Marcie Sillman about two books in particular: "Roberto the Insect Architect," by Nina Laden and "Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear," by Lindsay Mattick with illustrations by Sophie Blackall.

Artist John Feodorov in his West Seattle home
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

John Feodorov is Native American. And he’s an artist. But don’t call his work “Native American art.”

“Not everything I want to say needs to be adorned with beads and feathers,” he says.

Nancy Pearl
KUOW Photo

In Great Britain, the term "crime fiction" refers to everything from a cozy mystery to a police procedural. Here in the U.S., we divide our crime fiction into separate genres, according to librarian Nancy Pearl.

A mystery starts with the world out of kilter, and ends with everything put to rights again. A police procedural focuses on the nuts and bolts of solving crimes.

And a thriller? Well, as Nancy Pearl told KUOW's Marcie Sillman, a thriller is a page turner, as addictive as potato chips. "You can't stop with just one," says Pearl.

Pearl recommends two thrillers: "The Drifter" by Nick Petrie and "August Snow" by Stephen Mack Jones.

What happens when a person decides their gender at birth is not that one they were meant to be? If that person is a child, the question has ramifications for everyone in the family. Marcie Sillman speaks with Laurie Frankel about her new book, "This Is How It Always Is." The novel tells the story of a young transgender girlFrankel talks about the parallels between her own life and the family in the novel.

Ade Connere, at home on Seattle's Capitol Hill
KUOW photo, Marcie Sillman

Ade Connere doesn’t have a personal gender pronoun preference.

“It usually depends on what I’m wearing!”

Firefighter by photographer Marsha Burns.
Courtesy of Marsha Burns

In the 1980s Marsha Burns prowled Seattle's streets, looking for people to photograph.

“I was doing pictures of edgy people, people who didn’t fit into the society.” Burns says. “When I would approach them and say, ‘I’d like to make your picture,’ they were thrilled." 

Burns used a large format Polaroid camera, too large to carry with her. If she found somebody who intrigued her, she'd invite them to her studio to sit for a portrait.

A scene from the movie Captain Fantastic, which was set in Washington state.
Bleecker Street

You may have seen the movie Captain Fantastic.

This week, actor Viggo Mortensen got an Academy Award nomination for his work in it.


Jacob Lawrence in the Studio, 1983
Photo/Mary Randlett, courtesy UW Special Collections

I first met the artist Jacob Lawrence in his attic. That was more than 30 years ago, on a gray day, not so unusual for Seattle. 


Teatro Zinzanni, on lower Queen Anne in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Seattle’s long-running cabaret/dinner theater Teatro Zinzanni has been drawing crowds to its elegant vintage tent on lower Queen Anne since 2007.

The tent sits on land just north of Seattle Center; the land was given to Seattle Opera as potential funding source for a new home adjacent to Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.

Sara Porkalob, right, and her grandmother, the inspiration for Porkalob's one-woman show Dragon Lady
Dangerpants Photography, courtesy Sara Porkalob

When Seattle theater artist Sara Porkalob was a kid, her family didn’t have much money.

But they did have unconditional love for the little girl who lived to entertain them.

Ibara-Sandys' take on Mexican nichos, or small shrines, inspired by Dia de los Muertos imagery.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Amaranta Ibara-Sandys was 18 years old the first time she traveled to Seattle from Mexico City.

The year was 1992; teenagers from around the world were flocking to the Pacific Northwest, enticed by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and other Seattle bands.

“I loved grunge,” Ibara-Sandys says. “I loved the music!”

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