WICA celebrating 25th anniversary

The organization founded in 1996 is the result of a 10-year, community-funded effort.

The largest arts organization on Whidbey will be celebrating a momentous event this Sunday with an in-person celebration.

The Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, also known as WICA, is turning 25.

Although the organization was founded in 1996, its establishment was a 10-year, community-funded effort.

That same kind of community support has helped WICA weather the COVID pandemic. The center made a return to in-person programming this year, with art, political talks, music and a play already on the schedule.

“We do have limited capacity, but we think we’ve come out of COVID stronger than ever because we know to pivot and adjust and do whatever we can because we’re so diversified,” Executive Director Verna Everitt said.

The building was built in phases, and different kinds of programming were added on throughout the years.

Today, WICA is the county’s biggest arts organization and employer. It employs over 600 regional and international artists annually.

Everitt joined WICA in 2018. During her time as executive director, she has helped instate daytime programming, the Whidbey Island Film Festival and summer programming.

The latter is WICA’s newest change. An outdoor “Summer Nights” series was created last summer, and is planned to continue this year. Before, the organization closed during the summer for a deep cleaning.

Sunday’s anniversary celebration, which runs 1-3:30 p.m., will be an open house that will include complimentary champagne and non-alcoholic sparkling beverages, a poetry reading from Judith Adams and a conversation with Everitt and WICA’s first executive director, Vito Zingarelli.

The indoor seating area will have a capacity of about 75 to 90 people, although the festivities will also continue outdoors.

“Twenty-five years later, we are the premier art center on the island,” Everitt said. “And I like to think of us as the town square where everyone comes to gather and share great ideas and great conversation and be entertained.”

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