by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Gay City (511 E. Pike St.) officials announced this week that funds raised for the organization's Project BuildOUT have hit $71,000.
Gay City Health Project is a multicultural Gay men's health organization and the leading provider of HIV and STI testing in King County, whose mission is to promote the health of Gay and Bisexual men and prevent HIV transmission by building community, fostering communication, and nurturing self-esteem.
Gay City officials have set a $100,000 goal for Project BuildOUT by asking members of the community to 'be a part of the new Gay City' by donating to the project.
'Project BuildOUT funds are specifically earmarked to pay for the construction of our new space,' Gay City Executive Director Fred Swanson told Seattle Gay News. 'That means an expanded Wellness Center, an expanded Library and Resource Center, meeting spaces, and new space for arts programming on-site.'
'This project could not happen without the investment of individuals and the partnership of community businesses,' he added.
The 'new' Gay City doesn't mean the organization will be moving off the Hill - or even down the street. In fact, the new space is right next door. The new facility will more than double Gay City's physical space and allow the organization to significantly expand on-site programming and services, as well as provide drop-in space for the community.
Moving and construction, however, costs money and Gay City officials asked for the community's help. 'We need support to make this vision a reality,' said officials in an online ask for cash at the organization's website, www.gaycity.org.
As an added incentive, all Project BuildOUT donors will also be acknowledged on the donor wall in the new space.
'We're so grateful to have the opportunity to create a comfortable, welcoming, and beautiful space for our community to connect and grow together,' said Swanson.
'We are still on-target to move into our new office and Wellness Center space by the end of June, with some additional work happening into the fall on the arts space and library,' he said.
The new Wellness Center will have an increased range of screening, counseling, and other health support services. Officials also report that the increased space will allow Gay City to build new partnerships with other LGBT community organizations.
'Over the past five years, our programming has shifted to include more on-site activities,' continued Swanson. 'The new space will allow us to live more fully into this new identity as a destination for people - it will be a much more comfortable place to go and hang out, meet friends, connect, learn something new, or find a resource.'
In addition to other services, Gay City officials have announced the addition of the BuildARTS under the umbrella of Project BuildOUT, which will include the addition of a 750-square-foot multipurpose assembly space with the potential for a variety of uses, including theatrical productions, film screenings, spoken-word events, musical performances, visual arts installations, readings, writing workshops, seminars, and community and private meetings.
'The arts space will allow Gay City to hold more on-site events, and will be available for rental and use by the community,' said officials.
Gay City Deputy Director Peter Jabin says that the community should not be surprised that Gay City has a focus in the arts.
'From its inception, Gay City has engaged the arts in fulfillment of our mission of promoting health and building community,' he told SGN. 'That initially involved creative and compelling media campaigns to get people talking about significant issues.'
Over the years, Gay City has used a wide range of arts through programs such as 'Speed, Sex, & Sanity,' 'Gay City TV,' and Gay City Anthologies. More recent projects have included spoken-word events, writing workshops, and the production of The Infection Monologues in 2010 and 2011.
'Partnering with Queer artists is an excellent way to draw people out into community and get them into conversation about issues that matter today,' said Jabin.
'Our successes in this arena have led us to create a whole new program area: Gay City Arts,' he announced. 'Our new space will feature two distinct arts spaces - our library in support of literary arts and a black box space in support of performing arts - that will allow us to really up the ante with our artistic collaborations.'
'Gay City is currently hosting a series of arts advisory roundtables, gathering Queer artists and representatives from Queer arts organizations to help us figure out how best to utilize our new space to create a center for Queer arts in Seattle,' he said.
In anticipation of the new, larger Wellness Center, Gay City officials have expanded HVI/STI screening hours by adding Mondays. Free HIV/STI screening is now available for Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender men six days a week: Monday through Friday from 3 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 12:30 to 5 p.m.
To stay up-to-date on the progress of Project BuildOUT or to make a donations, visit www.gaycity.org/buildout.
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