The Project Room began in 2011 as an experiment in the arts, offering a platform for the development of new work and allowing for the public to participate in the creative process in a variety of ways. From a community crochet residency to a failure variety show to social experiments with art and technology to a podcast series and more, TPR started as a place to ask questions, and ended with a robust collection of events, activities, and conversations made specially for the curious and open minded.
Seattle was an important aspect of the organization, providing a backdrop that often wove its way into the programming, from the script-writing of These Streets to a re-interpretation of Northwest Masters to the presence of many artists, writers and performers who are dedicated to living and making their work here. However, the audience grew beyond the Northwest early on, thanks in part to great editors who worked on Off Paper, the literary voice of TPR, and made use of the online journal to introduce writers and ideas from near and far.
A key element of the organization from before it even had walls was the question-based approach to learning about the arts. From there, once a "big question" was posed, the programming had a direction to follow that provided cohesion to what might otherwise appear to be a wildly eclectic calendar of events. But it always came back to the big question, the thing that kept me up at night in a very personal way and allows us to be unified as people who perhaps share the same wonderment about the meaning of things.
After more than four years, what we have is a collection of over one-hundred original essays, twenty-one podcast interviews, and lots of images (and memories) of the two-hundred thirty-two creative people who shared their work with us.
It took a lot of support from others to take TPR from my head into reality, so thank you to all of those early listeners who patiently had coffee with me while I sputtered inarticulately about the seeds of this idea, including Jim McDonald, Fidelma McGinn, Jenifer Ward, Sarah Novotny, Claudia Bach, Greg Bell and many others; huge grateful thank-yous to Founders' Circle members who allowed TPR to grow far beyond my capabilities, and the TPR Board who stuck with it through the end; also the wonderful volunteers and staff including Tia Kramer, Tessa Hulls, Corey Blaustein and Madeline Williams. I must also extend a special thank-you to all of the artists who were willing to share their work in development which can be a frightening stage of the process; and biggest thanks of all to my two little nuts Bubs & Lucy, and Mike "Smitty" Smith who thinks anything I imagine is possible and sees no reason to consider the alternative.
—Jess, September 2016