Duo defends the arts from defunding

Katie Kowalski, arts@ptleader.com
Posted 6/13/17

Dirty Beat Duo’s Jesse Watson and Pete Lack are helping to protect arts in the schools this summer, superhero style.

The two “Defenders of the Arts” are hosting what is being billed as an …

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Duo defends the arts from defunding


Dirty Beat Duo’s Jesse Watson and Pete Lack are helping to protect arts in the schools this summer, superhero style.

The two “Defenders of the Arts” are hosting what is being billed as an epic dance party at the Palindrome to celebrate the last day of school and to benefit the Port Townsend Education Foundation (PTEF), which helps fund district art programs.

The event takes place from 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, June 16 at 1893 S. Jacob Miller Road. Entrance is by a recommended $20 tax-deductible cash or check donation. Ages 18 and younger are admitted for free. Food and cider are to be available for purchase at the family-friendly event, and superhero attire is encouraged but optional.

“This season, we really wanted ... to stand up against the systematic dismantlement of things we count very precious,” said Watson.

A musician and artist well known to Port Townsend (his work was most recently featured as the official Cake Picnic V art), Watson has, along with other teaching gigs, been instructing district students through a PTEF grant program.

“There's tons of data on the correlation between visual arts education and excellence in other areas,” Watson said. “It's all about visible problem solving, and appreciating things from an artistic way gives quite a different process to problem solving.”

Organizing the concert was Watson’s idea, and so was the superhero theme: Watson and Lack appear as tights-wearing “Defenders of the Arts” superheroes on the promotional posters (with art created by Watson).

“We were thinking that it would be pretty embarrassing,” so we thought, ‘Oh perfect!’” Watson said. “We don’t take ourselves seriously.”

One hundred percent of the funds raised from the all-ages event go to PTEF.

“[Watson] was so committed to making this thing happen,” said Melissa Nielsen, community engagement coordinator for PTEF. “It's going to be really fun,” she said.

“We can all be superheroes in a small way,” she said, inviting the community to come out and dance at the event, which is headlined by Uncle Funk and the Dope 6 – also featuring Watson and Lack.

Dirty Beat Duo is also finishing up a new EP, to be available at a July concert at Cellar Door – all proceeds from that event are also to be donated to PTEF for arts programs.

A few new songs are going to be on the album, Watson said, and the plan is to make it a by-donation download. “Every penny from it will go to PTEF,” he said.

Hosting the dance party is “one tangible thing we can do this summer,” Watson said. “We just love to play shows, but [also] do something that feels like a little small step we can take in the right direction.”

PTEF has for more than 10 years provided more than $400,000 in funding and resources to the Port Townsend School District, amply supporting the “place-based” education curriculum of the district.

These grants provide funding to support educational materials and experiences, from wearable arts and microscopes to transportation for high school students participating in the state Mock Trial, said Nielsen.

PTEF once again begins reviewing grant requests this July. For more information, go to



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