Money rolls uphill for arts center

Arts and culture enthusiasts pulled out their checkbooks and officially launched the fundraising for a performing arts center.

The Federal Way Coalition of the Performing Arts met July 31 at City Hall to discuss raising $45,000 to pay for a consultant group, which will help direct the coalition in its capital fundraising.

The FWCPA will turn to neighbors, friends, family and other established contacts in an attempt to raise the initial funds necessary to hire the consultant, The Collins Group.

The group would create guidelines and assist the FWCPA in conducting a capital campaign to raise $2 million to $3 million in private funding. The estimated cost to construct a performing arts center is $40 million. The money to hire The Collins Group is needed before Sept. 15.

“If we can’t raise $45,000, we may as well throw our chips in,” Federal Way resident Jim Burbidge said.

The arts coalition has already encountered its first hurdles in constructing a performance center. The general public does not seem to understand how a performing arts center will benefit the community as a whole, many coalition members said. They may not realize that a performance hall could fuel the city’s arts and its culture, Nancy McEleney said.

“It’s not just for the hoity-toity,” Burbidge said. “It’s for the people.”

In addition to understanding the benefits of a performing arts center, the public needs to be better educated on how fundraising money can be used, Bette Simpson said.

The city was awarded $500,000 from the state Legislature earlier this year. This money can only be spent on pre-construction and design, such as architectural and engineering work, of a performance center. Hiring a consultant is not considered pre-construction activity.

“The general public, I fear, does not know the definition of design,” Mary Gates said.

Though the city paid for a feasibility study of a performing arts center, the coalition does not plan to request more city funding to finance The Collins Group’s work.

“I personally think this needs to come independently of the city,” city council member Jeanne Burbidge said. “It’s a demonstration that the community cares about the project.”

If the FWCPA succeeds in garnering the $45,000 needed to hire a consultant, it expects to begin asking the public in January to contribute to a capital fund for a performing arts center in Federal Way.

Contact Jacinda Howard:

To learn more about the FWCPA visit

Group launches fundraising plan as donors open their checkbooks

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