Icicle Creek Center for the Arts was founded in 1995 by Harriet Bullitt, an entrepreneur and ardent supporter of the arts and environmental conservation, with the help of Wilfred Woods, long-time publisher of The Wenatchee World, the region’s family-owned daily newspaper. The founders envisioned a center for the arts in the picturesque foothills of Washington State’s Cascade Range. They focused their efforts on creating a place dedicated to excellence in the performing arts, an appreciation of nature and the synergy between the environment and the arts.
They called the organization the Icicle Creek Music Center and hosted its first annual Chamber Music Festival in 1995 in the Chapel Theater, a renovated church on the property of the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, a mountain retreat and conference facility that Bullitt had been developing since 1991 and opened that same year.
The Chamber Music Festival continued to grow over the next six years under the guidance of directors Scott Hosfeld and Marcia Kaufman. In 2001, the development of a dedicated Icicle Creek Music Center (ICMC) facility began. Two years later, a remodeled and expanded office housed both the Icicle Creek Music Center and the Icicle Fund – a foundation founded by Bullitt committed to fostering works dedicated to arts, history and the environment.
The development also included the Canyon Wren Recital Hall with its unique wall of glass looking outward toward the majestic Stuart Range and the now-famous ridgeline known as Sleeping Lady, a vision described by the Seattle Times as “a miracle of a view.” Practice huts – three for soloists and two for ensembles – dotted the forest, along with eight cabins to house artists, students and visitors.
In 2013, Bullitt undertook a new project, opening the $7 million Snowy Owl Theater, built in the shape of a barn, but with amenities and technology suited to hosting world-class performances. With the theater came an expansion of the Center’s programs to include new styles of music, theater and, eventually, a film program. It also came with a new name as the organization was re-christened the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts to reflect its broader range of education and performance offerings.
Today, Icicle Creek Center for the Arts hosts more than 100 performances a year and year-round educational programs for young and old. Artists, audiences and students escape the everyday grind with exceptional performances, festivals, camps, retreats, community events and classes that draw more than 15,000 people through the Center every year.
To support the rapid growth, the non-profit has been busily diversifying its base of support, reaching out to arts lovers in Seattle, expanding its grant and donor base and introducing new fundraising initiatives.
The future looks bright as the Icicle Creek Board of Directors continues to guide the organization along the path that has made it one of the region’s most important cultural resources, a beacon to professional and aspiring artists from around the world and a haven where the arts and nature come together to the benefit of all who pass through.