Whidbey Island Center for the Arts is trying to increase its revenue flow a bit by selling beer, wine or even martinis to its patrons.
Its quest for a state liquor license begins with the South Whidbey School District, whose property adjoins WICA. Liquor and schools generally don’t mix, but in this case the school board should go along with the request.
WICA runs a totally separate operation and its productions are usually presented in the evening, long after schools have adjourned for the day or weekend. Impact on students should be virtually nonexistent.
Anyone who has attended a theater or opera event in Seattle knows the importance of liquor sales to the operator. At the Seattle Opera, intermissions are held so frequently that singers seemingly have to stop in mid aria and hold their breath until viewers return to their seats, reeking slightly of burgundy or vermouth. At the Fifth Avenue Theater, a bottle of water goes for $3; we can only imagine what patrons are paying for a 4-ounce glass if zinfandel.
WICA patrons won’t be swilling alcohol in their seats, but rather partaking sparingly at intermission. Intermissions could be limited so that no one leaves the theater with more than a .07 percent alcohol level, but that’s hardly necessary with the crowd WICA attracts.
The days of strict liquor laws are over in Washington state, much to the distress of traditionalists.
It started with beer and wine sales on Sundays, then special liquor permits were made available for every festival under the sun, and now there are tours that consist of nothing but wine and/or beer samplings.
The state Legislature allows small distillers, called moonshiners before legalization, to have tasting rooms to whet the appetites of patrons. Driving around tasting these products is far more dangerous than standing in the foyer at WICA sipping from a cocktail glass.
The recession hasn’t been good to anyone, including the arts, but WICA is a precious resource for art and theater lovers on South Whidbey. If selling a bit of alcohol will help their balance sheet, then by all means allow it.