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News & Music Contributors
Mon March 10, 2014
Meet The City Of Seattle's New Director Of Film And Music
Imagine getting a job — but in doing so, replacing a friend whose firing prompted more than 1,200 people to sign a petition calling for his return.
That was the situation Kate Becker faced as she took over the city of Seattle’s Office of Film and Music.
"It is really a dream position. The transition into this has been a little, uh, sticky and rough, and emotionally challenging," she said.
Becker had actually been working for the city for nearly a year, advising officials on nightlife policies as well as the legalized marijuana initiative when Seattle Mayor Ed Murray tapped her for the role.
"I definitely accepted the job and did not pursue the job," she said.
Becker has a long background in the youth music scene. She helped found all-ages music venues in both Redmond (the Old Fire House) and Seattle (The Vera Project). She led a $1.8 million capital campaign to locate Vera at Seattle Center. She's been a longtime music commissioner, and, for five years, she also worked as the director of development at the Seattle Theater Group.
Her first connection with the city came in the late 1990s when she was an activist fighting to get rid of Seattle’s teen dance ordinance, which prohibited music concerts for underage crowds.
"And there were two people who were watching every minute of this [one particular meeting in front of city officials], and they came running up to me afterwards, "Can we get together and talk?'" she said.
One of those people was James Keblas, who held the job under two previous mayors.
She and Keblas, along with Shannon Stewart, helped co-found the Vera Project. In fact, nine years ago, she recommended him for the film office job, a job Becker wanted but couldn’t go after because of a family emergency that required her to move back to her home in New England.
Fast forward to now — has she always wanted this job?
"This job is a perfect fit for me, I must say," she said.
It was local filmmakers who were outraged about Keblas’ ouster and who launched the online petition in support of a man they say helped bolster their livelihood. Becker, who describes herself as a proven leader, says she’s been reaching out to filmmakers.
Her office is charged with finding ways musicians and filmmakers can make a living here. One of her first priorities is to update both the film and music economic impact studies to find out just how much those industries are contributing to Seattle’s economy.