Mission Nonprofit Spotlight: Olympia Lamplighters

Each month, Thurston Community Media (TCMedia)’s Mission Nonprofit connects with local organizations and agencies that are making positive impacts in our communities. This month, Mission Nonprofit host Robert Kam sat down with Avalon Kragness, business manager, and Iri Alxander, artistic manager, from Olympia Lamplighters to talk about their workshop space and other services for creatives in the community.

If you are an artist in Thurston County, you need to know about Olympia Lamplighters. Since their opening on October 4, 2019 the nonprofit has been a coworking space geared toward helping artists of all kinds with their goals. “Our number one goal is to help you grow into your goals, whether that be as a hobbyist who wants to get better at drawing, a new professional who needs help with branding, or a seasoned artist who wants to work with the community,” they share on their website.

“A friend and I were looking for studios for local artists and Tiger and I were trying to find a place to just work on artwork, start to get our businesses going, and getting a business in art started is complicated,” shares Iri. “It was so difficult for us to find a place that was affordable, like getting a studio even if it’s just a small room, it’s somewhere around $3-400 a month. And for people who are paying their rent and just trying to get started, that’s not happening.” Like many artists, Iri finds working at home distracting, so they knew they needed a place outside of home, but that a budding artist could afford. Tiger and Iri knew that if they were having trouble, other artists were too.

Another mutual friend, Chad Holland, gave them $50,000 in seed money to start a coworking space for artists. “We wanted to have a studio where artists could work and create a community,” Iri shares.

The space at 211 4th Avenue E in Olympia includes a recording booth, desks, a stage, resource library, and friendly staff ready to help. In addition to being a place where artists can come to hone their craft on their own, they also provide classes and workshops for those looking to learn new skills. Olympia Lamplighters hosts community events, including dances and monthly drag shows. They have an art gallery, for new artists to sell their work. “We have one of the lowest commissions in the city at 20%,” shares Avalon. “We’re that first stepping stone for artists to be able to come in, sell their work, to get going and provide for themselves.” 

Classes include everything from still life drawing and writing to quilting and soon drag queen classes. They are also planning classes for children, including special classes for children with disabilities. They have both free and paid classes and events with something for everyone. “Our goal is to break down the barriers between each type of artists, because there’s a lot of invisible barriers between say a painter and a singer or a writer and a painter, so if we break down those barriers and have this creative space where everybody can inspire each other, everybody can start creating things together, that is our whole mission with creating that safe space,” shares Avalon. “But it’s also teaching the younger generation, ‘Hey this is something that is viable. That you can absolutely do, even if it’s not your main career.’”

Anyone under the age of 13 needs to have a parent guardian present during the class. Over 13, they would like a parent guardian to come the first time to see the space. Otherwise, there is not an age limit, except for the figure model classes where there are nude models. That class is for ages 18 and over only.

The building is accessible, with a ramp into the warehouse and a wheelchair accessible bathroom as well. Assistance animals are welcome.

They are currently looking for donors to help with scholarships and other items for the space. They are having an art gala and silent auction on October 8 and are looking for people to donate items for the auction, as well as artists who want to be shown at the gala. For more information, watch the full video above and visit the Olympia Lamplighters website.

You can watch Mission Nonprofit on channel 77 on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch on TCMedia.org, Video On-Demand or our Roku channel. To learn more about what TCMedia does, visit the Thuston Community Media YouTube channel or the TC Media website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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