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Photo courtesy of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's office

Photo courtesy of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s office

As a percussionist, I’ve had my share of terrible experiences hauling instruments and equipment out of my car and into various performance venues. And I can tell you that parking any farther than a couple of spots from a venue’s load-in entrance can ruin a musician’s mood before the gig even begins.

Not much is more frustrating than having to make numerous trips to and from a parking spot several blocks from a venue — or having to double-park on a busy city street to unload gear while buses and impatient motorists scream past. And it’s particularly annoying to be told by an unsympathetic police officer, “You can’t stop here. You’ve got to move your car.”

“Really? I can’t park my car right here in the middle of this busy city street?” I’ve found myself wanting to respond while holding a bass drum over my head.

In those moments, I’ve wondered: Is there a place where hauling instruments and equipment from my car into various performance venues is made easier by sympathetic town officials?

There is now. It’s called Seattle.

On Monday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced the establishment of designated load-in areas.

Murray was quoted in a press release as saying, “Seattle’s music scene is a critical part of our city’s cultural draw and the quality of life in our city … We want to better serve local music venues’ needs and the musicians that play there.”

To that end, the city has partnered with five venues to offer musicians convenient load-in access by way of parking signs that identify “Priority Musicians Loading & Unloading” zones.

To qualify for the new program, venues simply have to meet some basic criteria.

From the above-mentioned press release: “How do you know if your music venue meets the requirements? Your venue hosts or presents live music on at least three separate days per week on a regular schedule; and hires one or more musicians to perform the equivalent of sixteen individual performances per week.”

How can musicians arrange to work under such pleasant conditions? They can move to Seattle. Or, they can bring that city’s newly established “Musicians Priority Loading Zones” initiative to the attention of their local city officials.

— David Brensilver

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