Paul Allen shaped Seattle culture from MoPOP and KEXP to Cinerama

SEATTLE – Paul Allen’s passion for arts and culture permeated Seattle, from opening the Museum of Pop Culture to saving Cinerama, launching the Up Stream Music Festival and investing in radio station KEXP at a time when she was small and struggling. He championed artists and musicians from the Pacific Northwest to thrive in the city.

“Everywhere at Once” was the name of Allen’s 2013 album, “Paul Allen and the Underthinkers”, and some may say it was also reminiscent of Allen’s mark on the city, he was everywhere at once. , from technology and medicine to arts and culture. .

A tribute to Paul Allen outside the Cinerama. Allen died of complications from non-Hodgkin lymphoma on October 15, 2018 (KCPQ / Byrin Miller)

Illuminated on the marquee of the Cinerama Theater in downtown Seattle, a tribute to Allen who bought the place in 1998, saving the theater from demolition. It has invested millions in its renovations and upgrades since.

As an arts lover, Allen’s tastes in music were as diverse as his passions. A violinist growing up, classical music influenced his longtime support for the Seattle Symphony, but it was a Jimi Hendrick concert he attended at the age of 16 that struck a chord with his love for the guitar. electric.

“He was passionate about music and he was a particular champion of artists from the Pacific Northwest,” said Thomas Mara, executive director of KEXP.

Mara says Allen donated millions of dollars to the radio station 17 years ago when she was small and struggling. In 2001, Paul Allen made a transformative donation of $ 3.6 million to the then-KCMU, which allowed the station to become independent from the University of Washington and change the appeal letters to KEXP. This corporate philanthropy also allowed the station to grow and become financially self-sufficient in three years,

“Before Paul got involved with KEXP, we had two full-time employees, and his commitment to philanthropy took us to $ 2 million in just three years and we’ve been in the dark ever since. Mara said.

Mara says it was Allen’s support for the station and the launch of the upstream music festival that gave the emerging musicians a stage of success.

“He could have done anything and that’s what he chose to do and that says a lot about his support for Seattle and the music scene in the Northwest,” Mara said.

Mara says Allen was a humble man, remembering when he came to the radio station.

“She was a very calm and gentle person as we walked through the station. It was probably a much bigger deal for me than it was for him, I would say. It was gratifying to finally show him the example of the many things he has supported, and I will never forget him, ”said Mara.

Perhaps his most visible contribution to the arts, this oddly shaped Seattle Center building, the Museum of Pop Culture, MOPOP, formerly known as the Experience Music Project.

Inside the music showcases, arts, film and technology are on display everywhere at once.

“What he did here we will experience for decades and decades and decades,” said Mara.

Proceeds from this 2013 album were used to fund educational programs at MoPOP.


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