I Am Seattle Center – Robert Nellams
“What I love about this place is that it’s a value statement about what the community believes in. It was originally created to be a world’s fair site, but there was a Trojan horse put inside of it. The people who planned the world’s fair planned it so that there would be an arts and civics center remaining once it was over. And we’re now 54 years after the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, so you have to give them kudos for planning well. This community believes it is important to have a space that is open, accessible, welcoming and honoring of all in the heart of its city. . .[it] is a value statement that resonates with me and something that I try to help steward and live into.
At the end of my first week [at Seattle Center], there was a program that was going to happen from the Arts and Science Academy. At the end of the two-week camp, they would perform for each other, for their parents, for the donors– everyone. This also happened to be the year that they mainstreamed disabled kids into their program. So I watched all these performances. I watched all the kids just enthusiastically support each other. I watched the disabled kids being totally integrated into the program. I was totally blown away because I was looking at the kids and their enthusiasm, and I looked at the parents and they’re crying their eyes out, and I looked at the donors and they’re crying their eyes out because of such a beautiful sight and experience. And I remember going home and telling my wife: “I can’t believe that they pay us for this. This is clearly my calling, I want to build bridges. I want to inspire spirit. I want to build community.” That academy built a wonderful community of teenagers.”
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ROBERT NELLAMS, Director of Seattle Center: Robert began working at Seattle Center in 1998 and became its Director in 2006. He has helped bring the Center into the 21st century, spearheading efforts to redevelop and re-imagine the civic space into a world-class gathering spot for people of all walks of life, cultures and communities.