ROCKiT space closed, community challenged to take over

Photo by Jason.
Another establishment on the Hill is closing, this time ROCKit space. The music and art organization on Beacon Avenue is closing due to illness in founder Jessie McKenna’s family. However, the space may not go away if there is the will to keep it alive, as McKenna is offering the space, equipment, and supplies to those in the community who can take it over and make something happen.

In a letter to the neighborhood this weekend, McKenna said: “I propose that those of you out there who feel there is a real need for a place like ROCKiT space to exist in our neighborhood… come forward with your ideas, motivation, financial contributions, whatever you’ve got to make that happen and propose to take it over. Our landlords will be advertising the space in about a week, but are willing to consider a lease extension for another party.”

ROCKiT space provided music rehearsal space and instruments, art supplies and workspace, books on the creative arts, classes in language and the arts for kids and adults, open mic nights, meeting space for local groups, and more. Additionally, it hosted the auditions for performers in last summer’s Beacon Rocks! music event.

Here is Jessie’s letter to the community:

Dear Beacon Hill,

You have been my home, my community, my friends for so long now. ROCKiT space was not our gift to Beacon Hill, but a potential commodity—a community space for us to share and use for whatever need it could fulfill. We have had an amazing go of it, but the time has come to say goodbye. Hundreds of people, probably well over 1,000, have shared ROCKiT space with us. We have laughed, cried, been frightened, overwhelmed with excitement and an outpouring of love and understanding; we have been appreciated and praised and we have used the space in so many ways.

Beacon Hill has confirmed for us what we knew going into this crazy experiment: It isn’t possible to fail when you set out to do something inherently pure and good with all your heart. We shared a vision with you. I want to see a world where people come first, where children are treated as equals, where adults are free to behave as children, where all people are welcome and encouraged and exist in a mindset that we are capable of anything we can imagine. I have truly glimpsed such a world in ROCKiT space and the people who have touched us with their individual and truly unique qualities and in turn have been touched by this place and the dream it represents.

I would like to give the Beacon Hill community the opportunity to turn ROCKiT space into whatever it is you are dreaming about. We have tried to make it a place for all people to share, and maybe it can be just that with enough time, money and energy put into it. But through unforeseen circumstances—a serious illness in the family—we have been forced to face reality. ROCKiT space has enormous potential, but after more than a year now, it is still rarely used as a creative space for teens or adults. Our open mic has been delightfully successful in the past, but has for some time now been a much smaller event. The people are incredible, the talent, the friendships made, but the event is not one that generates revenue for the space.

The hard truth is that these are difficult times for most of us financially. We at ROCKiT space totally understand if this is not a time to try a lot of new things or work a new “hot spot” on the Hill into your routines. And we also get that it’s not for everybody. Many of the people who love ROCKiT and frequent the space are not even members or paying fees to “use” the space. They just genuinely like the vibe and support the mission. We LOVE that! But let’s face it, The wonderful fact of the matter is that kids get it. Kids know how to ROCK iT like nobody’s business. As the community at ROCKiT grew, we saw over and over again just how much children, especially young children and their parents/caregivers got out of the space.

I propose that those of you out there who feel there is a real need for a place like ROCKiT space to exist in our neighborhood, either in more or less its current form or in another form, such as a space dedicated to children and their artistic/creative/social growth, come forward with your ideas, motivation, financial contributions, whatever you’ve got to make that happen and propose to take it over. Our landlords will be advertising the space in about a week, but are willing to consider a lease extension for another party. It’s no done deal, but it’s worth a shot if you are interested or know someone who would be.

I personally am no longer able to continue my outrageous (and totally awesome!) attempt to build ROCKiT from the ground up and see it through to success in whatever shape and form it comes. I have been working on a “volunteer” basis for 16mos and have reached the limit of my ability financially, emotionally and otherwise to keep going. I have learned so much, had the pleasure to get to know countless individuals and meet new, amazing people all the time. I would love to be able to take all the things about ROCKiT space that are incredibly fulfilling and wonderful and shelve the perpetual challenges of starting a nonprofit art space during a recession. But as we all know, it doesn’t work that way.

We would like to offer to the community virtually everything that has been donated to us as well as many things that were purchased specifically for ROCKiT space: musical equipment, art/office supplies and we would love to offer our insight/advice based on our experience to someone who would like to combine it with their own vision and propel the space into 2011.

ROCKiT space is now closed aside from musician rehearsals and one more Tots Jam and Spanish class. The well-meaning gal who has been running the space needs to focus on family right now. If ROCKiT space, or some incarnation of it is to go on, it will go on in new hands. I’m hoping that will be the case! But if it isn’t and we do close our doors with no particular hope of opening them up again, I must say from the bottom of my heart, thank you Beacon Hill for being such a dear friend to me. This is not goodbye, not for me, or for ROCKiT.

ROCKiT space is a state of mind. And I for one will do my very best to maintain that state and continue to share not only that vision, but make it my personal mission to remain grounded, true to myself, my heart and to all of you.

Jessie McKenna
Owner/Operator/Director/Janitor, ROCKiT space NPO
3315 Beacon Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144

A young artist creates at ROCKiT space. Photo by Bridget Christian in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.

5 thoughts on “ROCKiT space closed, community challenged to take over”

  1. PLEASE! Everyone let’s band together! We NEED this in our up-and-coming arts community! PLEASE email me with any ideas you may have. This is a true breakthrough and can’t go away!

  2. Please join us at Rockit Space Sunday, Dec 5 , 10:00am to discuss what we value at Rockit and what we can do to either:
    1. create a co-operative to continue the Rockit mission in the current location or 2. preserve the parts of Rockit we most value and re-locate them on the Hill.

    Beacon Hill Music is taking on the Open Mic at Rockit Dec 4 & 18 at Rockit, possibly seeking a new home there after.

    Cultivating Parents will continue “Tots Jam” at Rockit Wed’s at Rockit through Dec 16, then at new location TBA as needed. What do you want to keep? What are you willing to contribute?

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