Since 1986, Seattle Drum School has been a beacon of percussion and musical instruction for people of all ages and skill sets. The North Seattle and Georgetown locations are absolute assets to our city. Combined, they have roughly 600 students, 40 teachers, and four administrators. They offer bass, guitar, piano, voice, trumpet, saxophone, trombone, DJ, mandolin, and ukulele lessons, as well as rock-band classes, a Scottish drum corps class, and audio-engineering instruction. During the summer, Seattle Drum School offers camps, and they host all-ages shows and clinics with big-name hitters at their venues the Slab (Georgetown), and the L.A.B. (North Seattle, standing for Little Auditorium in the Back). But all is not rosy right now for the school—the city is threatening their existence. After 25 years of fire inspections with no problems, the Department of Planning and Development has decided to change Seattle Drum School's risk classification to that of a public school. It would force them to install sprinklers, have a seismic assessment and retrofit, and make various other alterations—the cost could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, effectively putting them out of business.
DEAR MAYOR MCGINN: Seattle Drum School should be flourishing, not on the verge of being shut down. Mr. Mayor, we cannot let places like Seattle Drum School perish. It's a great, positive place for kids, employing good people. We need music. We need music teachers. We need music taught. Our city and its government should be helping places like this, not threatening them.
Seattle Drum School founder Steve Smith spoke.
What's the latest on the retrofit/sprinkler issue?
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with an assistant Seattle attorney who handles land-use issues. She was very kind and said she was going to contact her client at the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to see if there was a way to bring us into compliance without resorting to a lawsuit. So far, I haven't heard back.