UPDATE: Mayor Murray spokesman Jeff reading tells PubliCola:
As with any newly-elected mayor, governor or president, Mayor Murray continues to build the team that will carry out the vision of his administration, and, as a longtime supporter of the film and music community, the Mayor is very excited to have Kate Becker as new Director of the Office of Film + Music.
James Keblas has done great work for Seattle’s film and music community over the previous decade, and Kate is excellently positioned to build upon that great work. Seattle is a city with a deep bench of talent and a broad community of individuals willing to contribute their time and energy to make a difference: the Office of Film + Music has benefitted from the talented contributions of James Keblas, and now stands to benefit from the talented contributions of Kate Becker.
And just as the film and music community embraced James, we’re confident they will welcome and embrace Kate – she’s going to be fantastic.
In this morning's conflicted Fizz where we were both torn up about losing all-star James Keblas as the city's longtime director of film and music while simultaneously psyched about gaining wonder woman Kate Becker as the city's director of film and music, we ultimately took heart that Becker represented the same grunge-era-turned-civic-activist set that Keblas came from.
The fact that new Mayor Ed Murray didn't reappoint Keblas—which is reading as Murray's Jim Diers moment (Nickels famously fired popular neighborhoods director Diers soon after taking office)—caused a stir yeseterday after Keblas sent out the heartbroken announcement. As we also noted in Fizz, members of the film commuity have started a protest petition that film scene superstar director Lynn Shelton tweeted out.
I have an extensive background in leadership and community organizing, deep music community history...
Responding to the controversy, Becker sent out a classy email of her own today in which—we were glad to see—she referenced her cameraderie with Keblas, including their role as co-founders of Seattle's all-ages Rookiemag-style (long before Rookiemag) venue, VERA.
Here's Becker's letter. We have a call out to Mayor Murray.
Hello Film and Music community stakeholders,
It is with tempered excitement that I agreed to step up to the plate to head the phenomenal work of the Office of Film and Music (OFM) that has been led by my respected friend and colleague James Keblas. All of this has happened very quickly, and is causing some fervor and concern in the community.
It is very clear that people have tremendous admiration for James and his legacy, as do I. I have had the good fortune to work with James in multiple capacities over the years. He and I have been in the trenches together, including co-founding the Vera Project with Shannon Stewart in 2000. We have mutual respect for each other, and have supported each other throughout our careers. We continue to do so now as the community hears this news.
One of the most appealing aspects of accepting this appointment is knowing that I'll be attempting to fill the giant shoes of a highly successful and effective director. His stellar work will be continued by the top notch OFM staff with my full support. With your help, we will take what has been built and advance even further the mission of making Seattle a great place for film and music. While this office has seen tremendous success, there is more that can be done. I look forward to building that with you.
For those who are expressing concern, please know that I am deeply committed to advancing the success of the work that is underway and the work of the future. I have an extensive background in leadership and community organizing, deep music community history, and a lifelong love of film. While I have a degree in filmmaking and history that includes building a media lab and launching a filmmaking program for teenagers, I look forward to meeting and working with many others whom I haven't met yet.
When I came to work at the City of Seattle ten months ago, James jumped in to support me and help me adapt to new work, new colleagues, and new opportunities. I have complete faith, as well as his commitment, that he will be there for me now as we move through this transition. I am honored to have the good faith and trust invested in me by the Mayor to carry on this work.
I have reviewed the ambitious 2014 work plan of the OFM, and am excited to continue advancing the City of Music and Commercialize Seattle initiatives that are the foundation of Seattle's unique public/private partnership to support musicians and filmmakers in a highly competitive environment.
I am also honored to oversee the function that coordinates city-wide permitting activities for film, special events, and neighborhood farmers markets. This function is a critical piece of supporting economic development, artistic and cultural expression, first amendment rights, recreation, small businesses, and stronger connections with everyone who lives and works in, and visits, Seattle. I look forward to bringing my consensus building skills to find common ground to improve the quality of all these events, and broaden support for, and understanding of them, across government and the public.
Ultimately, the most important thing is carrying the good work of the OFM forward while addressing new issues and advancing new ideas generated by the film and music community. I look forward to doing this in partnership with the excellent and accomplished OFM staff and you.
There will be multiple celebrations of James and his incredible achievements and everyone will be invited. I look forward to celebrating with you.