Rainbow City Performing Arts envisions a world that promotes healthy attitudes about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied.
We are an organization of performance ensembles creating a diverse and inclusive environment for musical expression that promotes the equity and visibility of people in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Rainbow City Performing Arts was founded as Rainbow City Band in 1998 by Jo-Ann Christen and Scott Lewis, who saw an opportunity to provide a safe, accepting place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender musicians to participate in Seattle's rich community music scene while expressing themselves openly and honestly. That summer, 27 musicians gathered to rehearse and perform in the Seattle Pride Parade.
Following their summer debut, the group decided to continue performing indoors rather than waiting until the following summer to play again - and RCB became a year-round community music group. In 2001, we incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization focused on adult music education. The complementary objectives of providing a welcoming environment for LGBT people and their allies, strengthening individual and ensemble performing skills, and supporting the LGBT community as well as the greater Puget Sound community continue to serve as the foundation of the organization's vision and mission.
Over time, we have added new performing groups as members and potential members expressed interest in new opportunities. In 2002, Purple Passion Swing Band debuted as a big band-sized group playing hits from the heyday of swing. In 2006, we added the Renegayde Pep Band to bring fun and energy to community events year round. In 2008, we marched with a color guard during our marching season, and spinOUT was born. And in 2010, we expanded into new territory as we formed Rainbow City Orchestra and welcomed string players into our membership.
As we grew and added more members, we talked about how "band" no longer accurately expressed all that we do. After much discussion, in 2014 we officially registered our new umbrella name, "Rainbow City Performing Arts." We felt that this name reflected not only the variety of instrumentation and musical styles in our music ensembles, but the visual element that spinOUT adds and the promise of future ensembles showcasing new aspects of performance.
Rainbow City Performing Arts is a member of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA), an association of nearly 40 bands like ours throughout the country and beyond. We hosted the 2011 LGBA conference, culminating in a concert with over 225 musicians on stage at Seattle Center's McCaw Hall. We send delegates to the conference each year, and network with other bands to share ideas on programming, music education, administration, fundraising, operations, and reaching people in the community.
Our organization continues to grow in the number of members we have, audiences that we reach, the music we play, and the ways in which we engage with those around us. If you have ideas about what might be our next step, share them with us!