Thursday night Town Hall Seattle served up its first "Nightcap," a free late-evening conversation with a featured guest in a cafe setting on the main (lobby) floor, complete with bistro tables and chairs. Nightcap’s inaugural guest was Pete Holmes, Seattle’s already-controversial new city attorney, who answered questions from Josh Feit and Erica Barnett of Publicola.net, and took questions from the audience of about 40. The event is free; beverages and snacks (eventually food) are no-host.
Town Hall executive director Wier Harman pulled together Nightcap’s debut on short notice. He was fretting about some of the details, such as the lighting, and how to integrate the event when other guests are leaving the hall from events either upstairs (as with this evening) or downstairs. He wants Nightcap events "given over to the community" in a way that can’t happen when the audience is looking up at someone on a Town Hall stage. "I want the levels flattened," he said.
As Harman put it, "Trial-and-error is embedded in the Town Hall tradition." But though the main lecture by Dr. Gabor Mate ended a little late and Holmes had to leave a little early, curtailing the Q&A, there was time for him to speak on topics ranging from the search for a police chief to the city’s relationship with homeless encampments. (Publicola blogged Holmes’s statement on his decision not to pursue marijuana cases.)
Harman said he wants to connect more Seattle citizens informally with individuals central to the workings of city politics, art, and culture — to "fill unfilled gaps in the life of the community." Four to six evenings of this kind will be scheduled each month, some of them post-event discussions and some freestanding conversations like Thursday night’s, each one hosted by local media and other groups.
The next Nightcap will be held on January 27, starting around 9:15 pm after the main event, A Mozart Birthday Toast." Featured will be ArtsJournal.com editor Douglas McClennan interviewing Regina Hackett, the former art critic at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who who now blogs at "Another Bouncing Ball."