WENATCHEE — Wenatchee Valley College is just $800,000 away from building its $6.6 million Center for Music and Arts next year.
The WVC Foundation released building plans for the new center this morning and officially launched its public fundraising campaign. The majority of the cost, $5.8 million, is covered by:
• A $2 million state matching grant.
• $1.5 million by selling its old Music and Arts Center building to the Wenatchee School District.
• $1 million from the Icicle Fund in Leavenworth.
• $1 million from the Wenatchee Valley College Foundation.
• $300,000 in pledges from the WVC board of trustees, administrators, staff and faculty.
“I, in 30-some years of higher education, have never ever seen a campaign go public with this high of a percentage raised,” WVC President Jim Richardson said at a news conference this morning. “This is a project that’s going to happen. This community has embraced us and now we’re ready to go forward with the community to get it done.’”
To secure the state match grant, construction needs to begin by June 2011, which means the college faces a March deadline to put the project out to bid.
The location of the new building changed during the design process. Instead of the soccer fields behind WestSide High School, the new building will be built on the lawn between Wells House and Fifth Street. The soccer fields were too small and out-of-the-way, Richardson said.
The building will have a wing for music and another for art. The music wing will house an acoustically perfect recital hall, sound-proof rehearsal rooms and a recording studio. The art wing includes studios with proper lighting and ventilation.
Dan Jackson, a retired music teacher from Wenatchee High School, said the Wenatchee Valley has a culture that “pound for pound, we stack up with anybody, Seattle or New York.”
He said a new music and arts facility makes sense for four reasons: An appropriate music and arts facility will help recruit quality students for the programs; it will bring music festivals and concerts to the area; it will also help build the high school, middle school and elementary arts programs; and WestSide students will finally have an adequate school.
In 2006, the WVC Foundation bought the Eagles Lodge for about $2 million and paid $23,500 for remodeling. The college later decided to use the building for its arts and music programs — which had been housed in leaky, moldy portables.
The college initially planned to remodel the Eagles building, but an architect working on the project discovered the building needed extensive work to accommodate music and arts needs.
If the campaign is successful, the Wenatchee School District will buy the old Eagles building and move in WestSide, its alternative high school.
Richardson said the new building will not become a new budget drain. The new building will cost the college less per month than the college’s lease of the Eagles building, he said.
The new building’s maintenance costs will be covered with state funding. The Eagles building doesn’t qualify for maintenance funding from the state because the college is leasing it from the WVC Foundation, Richardson said.
The college cut more than $2 million from its $23 million budget in the last two years because of the state budget crisis. Three people this year and eight staff members last year took buyouts to save the college money. The college also laid off part-time help and cut its travel budget, equipment and maintenance.
“This has nothing to do with our operating budget,” Richardson said. Capital funds cannot be used for anything but building, he said.
“So why now? Because we started it before this all crashed, we got a $2 million commitment from the state and that comes with a deadline.”