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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Arts Center Task Force (ACTF) began our current efforts in 2011, and since then we have developed a series of studies, consultations with experts, and multiple conversations with the Tri-Cities community. In addition, we completed three critical technical documents: a conceptual design, a fundraising feasibility study, and a current business plan. We are now ready to start the final phase. We currently have the support of the City of Richland and the Richland Public Facilities District, which will provide us with avenues for local and state funding. 

 

WHERE WILL YOU BUILD IT?

 

We expect to build the Mid-Columbia Performing Arts Center (MCPAC) at Columbia Park West, near The REACH Museum and overlooking the Columbia River. This aligns with the City of Richland’s master plan for developing the Columbia Park West area, including the shoreline.

 

HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE YOU RAISED?

 

Since 2011, we have raised more than $2 million in direct and promised donations. Arts Center Task Force has not officially launched a capital campaign, though we are in the “quiet phase,” where we approach potential donors for a commitment. A full accounting of all funds raised for the facility will be available to the public throughout the effort. 

WHAT IS THE ARTS CENTER TASK FORCE’S HISTORY?

 

Arts Center Task Force was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in 1995 and became a Registered Charity in Washington State in 2017. Since it was formed, our mission has never wavered: build a performing arts center in the Mid-Columbia region. Three previous attempts to partner with local governments did not move forward, mostly because of the expense and complexity of building the Center.

HOW IS THIS TIME DIFFERENT? WHY NOW?

 

Four factors favor our success:

  1. Private citizens are driving the process – Through an early benchmarking study, we learned groups of private citizens and nonprofits who led performing arts center developments were successful more often than government agencies. ACTF is a grassroots organization, not a governmental one.

  2. Greater depth of information about the need and costs – Starting with our initial efforts, we have consistently gotten advice and input from people and organizations with proven track records in performing arts center development and fundraising. We have actively consulted with the arts groups in the Tri-Cities to understand their needs and have obtained their commitments to use the facility. We have developed a business plan that shows the facility will be financially self-sustaining. 

  3. Demand for culture and live entertainment – The Tri-Cities population is more than 300,000 according to 2020 census data. With this growth has come a demand for more entertainment and cultural options, and equivalent growth in performing and visual arts participation and audience sizes. 

  4. We have local government partners – We are actively working with the Richland Public Facilities District and City officials to explore ways to make the Center a reality.

 

ARTS CENTER SIZE, AMENITIES, LOCATION

 

What is proposed to be built?

 

We will build and operate a performing and arts center that includes the following:

  • An 800-seat theater with excellent acoustics, comfortable seating, orchestra pit, orchestra shell, fly space, off-stage space for people and storage, dressing and green rooms, professional-quality technical support, and loading dock

  • Flexible community room for smaller group performances, events, and educational activities, accommodating up to 200 people 

  • Spacious lobby for pre- and post-show gatherings and private events 

  • Food plating and beverage service area

  • An art and exhibition display space.

 

Why did you choose an 800-seat theater rather than a 2000-2300-seat theater like they have in Seattle and Spokane? 

 

There are two main reasons:

  • Need – Our decision was based on a survey[1] of the needs of local and regional performing and arts groups; the economic viability of an 800-seat theatre for mid-size touring groups and the regional market’s lack of a mid-sized facility.  

  • Cost to Build/Maintain – The estimated cost to build a 2000-seat theater was $85-150 million in 2013—closer to $100-180 million today. Given our region’s population size, assets, smaller community sizes, and history of charitable giving, raising $100-180 million is not considered possible here. Additionally, building operation and maintenance costs for a larger facility would be as much as three times higher, making the facility less affordable for local and regional arts groups. At the projected cost of $54 million, raising the funds through donations, grants, and public monies is still a steep challenge.

 

BENEFITS OF THE ARTS CENTER

 

What’s in it for people if the Arts Center is built?

  • Individuals will be able to enjoy the arts and host guests and clients in a local facility of high quality and comfort.

  • Parents and grandparents will give their children and grandchildren the magical experience of seeing and participating in the many forms of artistic expression.

  • Businesses will profit by locating in a very desirable entertainment district.

  • Corporations and Hiring Managers will more easily recruit talented employees who want cultural experiences.

  • Performing and Visual Artists will have access to a central facility with outstanding acoustics and technical support.

  • Tri-Cities will be known as a regional cultural hub offering a full quality-of-life experience in a centralized location.

 

COMPETITION FROM OTHER CITIES

 

Many people travel to Seattle or Spokane to experience the arts. How will you encourage people to attend Arts Center events?

 

The Arts Center will be designed for maximum performance quality and audience comfort. In addition to showcasing local visual and performing artists and organizations, it will provide a variety of mid-size touring performances and events. Tri-Citians already attend local performances, but they experience facilities having limited capacities and amenities in size, technical capabilities, or purpose. The higher quality experience at the Arts Center will encourage people to stay home for local and mid-size touring groups.

Can the Mid-Columbia support both the shows at the Toyota Center and the Arts Center?

 

Yes. The markets for the Toyota Center shows and the Arts Center are complementary, not competitive. Big Broadway and Vegas-style shows are adapted for the arena setting of the Toyota Center. These shows require a 2000+ seat audience to break even. The market for the Arts Center will serve the more than 40 well-established regional performing arts groups and many mid-size touring groups. Attending a show at the ice rink has a specific market, just as will attending a show at the Arts Center.

 

COST, BUDGET, DONATIONS

 

What is the estimated cost to build the Arts Center?

 

The construction estimate is $54 million based on a preliminary plan development by LMN Architects.  The next building phase will require raising $750,000 to develop detailed specifications for the Arts Center. While the final estimates may change in the future, our mission to build the Arts Center will not.

 

Does this region have “that kind of money” to build the Arts Center?

 

Our research has shown that it does, but we will not spend any restricted contributions until we are certain the resources are available to build the facility as promised. With the support of state and local governments, communities, and businesspeople, we believe it is possible to fund this size of theater.

 

There are three sources of funds that we can access: donations, grants, and public funds. Through our fundraising efforts, we focus on donations from individuals and corporations, organizations, naming rights, and in-kind donors. All donations are recognized in writing at the time of the donation. Some donors also will be recognized within the facility. There are local taxing mechanisms that could provide much of the necessary funds..

If you are seeking the help of state and local government programs, do you plan to ask for a tax increase to fund construction?

 

We are exploring all sources of funding, including public funding, as a way to build the Arts Center. Originally, we had planned to accept donations and grants only. However, a feasibility study by Netzel Grigsby Associates was unable to find capacity to support a $54-million facility from private resources alone within the Mid-Columbia region. There are mechanisms available to access public funding at the state and local level , and the Richland Public Facilities District has the ability to mount a ballot measure for a 0.2% sales tax increase for Richland residents, which amounts to 2 cents on every $10 spent.

How will funds be spent prior to construction? 

 

The Arts Center Task Force has two categories of funds: non-restricted and restricted. Non-restricted funds are used to fund operations of the organization and other non-capital expenses such as insurance. Restricted or capital funds are used for design and building of the Arts Center. Donors may earmark their donations as restricted. Donors also may give tangible assets such as stocks, bonds, and insurance benefits.

 

What can we borrow from performing arts centers in Spokane and Portland?

 

Programming decisions, community education tactics, facility maintenance models, and the value of a public entity (such as a Public Facilities District) supporting operations are lessons we can borrow from these organizations. We have also contacted at least three similarly sized centers in Washington and Oregon that share their experience.

Once the Arts Center is open how will you sustain its operations annually?  

 

We estimate that the Arts Center will be self-sustaining because of our community partners financial investment in ACTF through membership, rental fees, and a portion of ticket revenue. We will also rely on income from mid-size touring groups and other sponsored performances and private facility rentals, as well as income from an endowment and fundraising. While we aim to keep the Center self-sustaining, as a 501(c)3, this will not preclude our reaching out to the community and region for annual charitable contributions. 

WHAT IS THE ESTIMATED TIME UNTIL COMPLETION?

 

Our most optimistic timeline, which takes into account a successful ballot measure in 2025, is to break ground in mid- to late 2025. Construction will take from 1.5 to 2 years. Best case: opening night in 2028.

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