Work is progressing on the new Performing Arts and Events Center in Federal Way. City officials announced this week the grand opening is scheduled for August. JESSICA KELLER, the Mirror

Federal Way officials announce opening day for Performing Arts and Event Center

The Performing Arts and Event Center is scheduled to open in 101 days.

City officials are planning a ribbon cutting for the 716-seat center on Aug. 19, Mayor Jim Ferrell said this week.

“By the end of this month, we should have substantial completion,” Ferrell said of the project’s construction timeline.

Then, all that will be left to do is to obtain a temporary occupancy permit and get the keys before city officials can move in the countless pieces of furniture and art this summer.

Executive Director Theresa Yvonne said the next major milestone for the project will be to complete the parking lot.

“If we can pray for dry weather, that would be really nice,” she said.

The city has also filled four of the six positions available for the Performing Arts and Event Center.

Scott Abts will take the role as marketing director.

“[He] comes to us from Columbia Bank, where he has been a web developer with the marketing department,” Yvonne said. “Over the past 30 years, Scott has been involved with theater on-stage, behind the scenes, writing, producing and directing for the stage.”

Yvonne added Abts has worked among a local stage crew for David Copperfield, U2, Wynona Judd and The Grateful Dead.

The city hired Roland Carette-Meyers as the patron services coordinator. He worked as the group sales manager for the Seattle Repertory Theatre and graduated from Seattle University with a Master of Fine Arts in arts leadership.

Development supervisor Erin McCarthy and Ed Estrada, the technical supervisor, have not yet started. The operations manager and an administrative position have not been filled, to date.

Details on what programs, events and performances Yvonne has scheduled for the center will likely be released in June, she said. However, the Federal Way Symphony, Federal Way Chorale, Federal Way Youth Symphony, Tacoma City Ballet, Jet Cities and Harmony Kings will be resident artists at the Performing Arts and Event Center.

The city is also in the process of planning a gala fundraiser to be held on Sept. 9 to raise money for the center.

In the last three years, the Federal Way Coalition of the Performing Arts has raised more than $1 million for the center. Through various grants and federal sources, the city has paid approximately $24 million, including the $1 million raised, on the $33 million center.

Last month, the city officials dipped into the council-approved interfund loan, which caps at $13 million, to help pay construction costs. City officials have three years to pay back what is used from the loan before they need to consider bonding the project.

Yvonne expects naming rights for the Performing Arts and Event Center to come in year one, which could bring $3 million to $5 million.

When the project first started, it was called the Performing Arts and Conference Center, or PACC, as many people still call it today.

The idea for opening a performing arts center started in 1988, when a group called the Society for The Acquisition and Refinement of the Performing Arts Center, or STAR PAC, was formed.

Its president, Joann Piquette, said the motto was “bringing home the stars,” as they couldn’t perform in Federal Way.

The group’s name later changed to the Federal Way Coalition of the Performing Arts, which is comprised of the Federal Way Chorale, Jet Cities Chorus, Harmony Kings, Federal Way Symphony and the Federal Way Youth Symphony Orchestra.

The Federal Way City Council has had several meetings and discussions about the viability of building and running a performing arts center in Federal Way since then. However, the most significant series of meetings that led to a “green light” were the mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel.

Tasked with determining if the arts center would be feasible for the city, the Blue Ribbon Panel presented its findings to the council in May 2014. The nine-member panel reported to city officials, the arts center would be feasible.

Three sub-committees analyzed construction costs and financing options, operations and the center’s economic and fiscal impacts Federal Way. Even if the city could not acquire all of the funds needed, their interfund loan could fill any gaps.

One month later, the City Council unanimously approved the project. Since then, the city has received state grants, private fundraising and a net $2.5 million in New Markets Tax Credits, a form of federal funding, after three attempts.

Event information:

The Performing Arts and Event Center’s free ribbon cutting and community day will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 19 at 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S. in Federal Way. After the ribbon cutting, the community is invited to tour the center, which features a 30-foot-high glass-encased lobby with views of Mount Rainier. SAVOR catering will provide food as lectures and demonstrations take place. A “behind-the-scenes” guided tour will also be available. Additionally, representatives will answer questions about rental services and help plan any upcoming events. The center’s patrons services will be open with brochures available to choose season or individual show tickets for the resident arts groups or the upcoming presenting season.