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Seattle University


Get ready to groove

Written by Mike Thee
August 16, 2010

Move over Bonnaroo. Lollapalooza? Please—what is this, 1994? There’s a new concert coming to a campus near you. In fact, it’s taking place right here on our very own Green.

Seattle University will host the first-ever Concert for Community from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28. Free and family-friendly, Groovin’ on the Green, as the event is being billed, will feature four renowned local acts: The Garfield High Jazz Combo, The Total Experience Gospel Choir, The Goody Bagg Band and Anzanga Marimba. As if that’s not enough to entice you, there will be some free hotdogs, cool drinks, Blue Bird ice cream, servings from Cupcake Royale and other refreshments.

As the concert’s name implies, the university is reaching out in a particular way to its surrounding community and inviting its neighbors.

“We are very much looking forward to hosting this first Concert for Community,” says SU Executive Vice President Tim Leary. “The event promises to be a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and to deepen our shared commitment to creating a vibrant, active neighborhood. Please join us for this family event.”

Casey Corr, director of strategic communications, helped organized the campus-wide effort to put on the concert. He says the idea ties into the university’s growing outreach to its neighborhood.

“Under Tim Leary’s leadership, the university has deepened its commitment to engage with the neighborhood and surrounding community,” says Corr. “Seattle University is well recognized for its astounding service in the region and globally, but Tim recognized that we needed to step up our partnerships with individuals and community organizations to make our neighborhood better. For example, we’ve expanded our work in public safety, transportation and public investments in 12th Avenue.”

And so when James Gore, a thrice-decorated SU alumnus and professional concert promoter, approached the university with the idea of having the university host a musical event for the community, Leary was more than amenable.

Working under a rather ambitious timeline, organizers have responded with gusto. “It’s been a phenomenal exercise in tapping the many talents around campus,” says Corr. “Public Safety, Conference and Events Services, Facilities, Bon Appétit, Alumni, the University Counsel’s Office and Reprographics have worked in concert (pun intended) on this. Everybody recognized that the concert was a good idea, and I think we’ll have a lot of fun.”

Another key player has been Kent Koth, director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement. Koth is also leading the Seattle University Youth Initiative, through which the university is intensifying its partnerships with the immediate neighborhood to support youth by reducing violence and helping kids succeed in school. Koth has reached out to his many contacts in the community to make sure they know they’re invited to the Green on Aug. 28. He sees the event as dovetailing nicely with the Youth Initiative.

"This concert is one example of how Seattle University can further connect with our neighbors to foster a greater sense of community,” he says.

Corr echoes that and goes on to tick off a list of other efforts the university has made recently to strengthen its ties to the community, including the launch of the new Community Connections newsletter, the hostings on campus of key civic and governmental leaders and making the Admissions & Alumni Building’s conference room available to community groups. All of this has helped elevate the university’s profile as a positive presence in the community. (The university summarized much of its work in the community in the 2008 Partners for Progress report.)

Returning to the concert, Corr says, “We’re very excited about Aug. 28. It features four outstanding musical groups headlined by a combo from what I think is indisputably one of the finest high school jazz bands in the United States, the Garfield High Jazz Band” (whose musical director, Clarence Acox, is of course an adjunct professor at SU).

Concert organizers are encouraging faculty, staff and students to attend and to bring as many family members, friends and neighbors as they’d like and to help spread the word to our neighbors and community partners. (Did we mention there will be free refreshments?)

Corr hopes the concert becomes an annual event. “We’d like to expand this so that community partners can come and participate in different ways,” he says, explaining that most of the planning and resources for this year’s concert were generated internally because the timeline for organizing it was so tight.

As for what sort of crowd he’s expecting, Corr says, “Since this is our first year, we’re thinking we’ll have a slightly smaller turnout than Woodstock. But on the positive side, we won’t have any mud.”

And you can take the mud-free guarantee to the bank. Not that it would dare rain on a summer Saturday in Seattle, but arrangements have been made to move the festivities inside to Pigott Auditorium should the weather prove uncooperative.