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Jessica Harbert signs on as executive director of Make.Shift

A few weeks ago, Make.Shift announced that Jessica Harbert will take the helm as executive director of the art and music venue located at 306 Flora St., near Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher.

She will take over the position in mid-January from founding executive director Cat Sieh.

Harbert has been a Make.Shift board member for nearly a year, and has a good understanding of the organization’s finances, strategy and big-picture goals, says Sieh.

Harbert graduated from Western Washington University in journalism and has experience in management, marketing, public relations, community outreach, event planning and fundraising. Among her local experiences, Harbert has worked for Bellingham marketing firm Fifthonsixth Inc. and managed Bayou on Bay for four years. She most recently assisted in opening Rock and Rye Oyster House in the Bellingham Herald building.

“I’m thrilled to hand Make.Shift off to someone as capable as Jessica,” Sieh says. “She understands Make.Shift’s priorities and values, and she has the enthusiasm to see them through.”

Harbert has served on the board of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and has a good understanding of the Bellingham art and music community, says Sieh. She stepped off the board during the hiring process, and will resign her board position to take on the directorship role.

“I am excited to build on the solid infrastructure Cat has worked hard to establish. I also intend to explore new programming, including our new community radio station, and increased youth outreach,” Harbert says. “The organization is at a great place right now and I look forward to continuing that momentum.”

In September, Make.Shift received an FCC license to build a low-power FM community radio station in Bellingham.

Go to the station’s Facebook page, facebook.com/bellinghamradio or the station’s website, bellinghamcommunityradio.org for more on the radio station.

Details on Make.Shift (see a recently filmed video by WWU’s 2014 graphic design bachelor of fine arts students): makeshiftproject.com, 360-389-3569.

Downtown Bellingham Partnership and Bellingham Parks receive concert money

And for more exciting news happening in downtown Bellingham: the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department recently heard that they will together receive about $23,000 in a matching program from Levitt Pavillions, a national nonprofit “dedicated to strengthening the social fabric of America through the power of free, live music,” particularly focused on concert series.

What’s perfect about the organization’s mission — that it recognizes the need for more informal gathering spots that “reflect the best of American city life by creating community and social interaction among people of all ages and backgrounds; empowering cities across America to reclaim green spaces and reinvigorate public spaces; and ensuring the performing arts are accessible to all” — is that the money will be used to match funds to add a five-week concert series at Bellingham’s Maritime Heritage Park this summer.

Downtown Sounds will continue to take place on Bay Street for five weeks, which starts the first Wednesday in July. The grant money will strengthen the partnership’s coordination efforts and help cover event costs as the series continues to grow while remaining free to the public, says Lindsey Payne, events manager for Downtown Partnership.

“I'm really excited,” Payne says. “Funds from the grant will help the partnership actually afford to produce Downtown Sounds while improving event logistics.”

“We lose money on these free concerts every year as the series continues to flourish and expand,” Payne says. “We are sincerely grateful for the win and look forward to saying ‘thank you’ by organizing a stunning outdoor concert series this summer.”

Here’s what Amanda Grove, of Bellingham Parks, said about the grant: “Bellingham is rich with character and its citizens value public spaces and the arts. The Levitt AMP Bellingham Music Series will target key areas of our downtown prioritized for improvement and revitalization. The free outdoor series will serve to bring public awareness of the vitality of downtown and our arts community in spite of challenging social issues that are becoming more prevalent. ‘Bellinghamsters’ take pride in our City and enjoy gathering for music and supporting a stronger community.”

“Revitalization of Maritime Heritage Park is a priority of the City. The Levitt AMP Bellingham Music Series will be a key component in the comprehensive 2015 programming plan designed to increase community use of this beautiful public space.”

For more info on the Maritime Heritage Park concert series, email Grove at agrove@cob.org.

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