Washington Center for Performing Arts Launches Capital Campaign

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts announced last week at their annual Gala that they will be implementing the first comprehensive capital campaign since construction in 1985. With a goal of raising $8.6 million dollars to overhaul the many components that are at the heart of every theater, the campaign will touch every aspect of the Center’s interior.

Chaired by Alex and Tammy Bunn, the campaign is already 89% of the way to the goal, with over $7.6 million in commitments. With just a little under $1 million to raise, the Bunns are passionate about the facility. “The arts set children and adults up to pursue their dreams,” says Alex. “The Washington Center is an anchor in our community and shines as our region’s most treasured asset.” As a long-time board member and a past board president, Alex has a seasoned perspective on the Center and its needs.

Implemented in two phases, the improvements will be identified in two major categories as backstage and public spaces. Backstage improvements include lighting, sound, curtains and rigging.  All of these elements bring the theater to life for thousands of patrons every year. Public spaces will include 1,000 new seats, carpet, concessions remodel and interior design improvements, as well as infrastructure like HVAC and electrical upgrades.

Eager to ensure the interior of the Center matches the beautiful exterior which was renovated by the City of Olympia in 2014, Executive Director Jill Barnes believes the improvements will protect the community’s past investment and enhance how patrons feel when they walk through the doors. According to Barnes, “delivering a world-class experience is needed to maintain the highest level of quality in every aspect of the Center, from backstage and onstage, to our lobbies and concession areas.” She added, “We are proud to have the opportunity and support to preserve and care for the Washington Center for the Performing Arts like the cultural and community asset that it is.”

Barnes says the COVID-19 pandemic was a hurdle the campaign committee did not anticipate. “The shutdown due to the global pandemic has been devastating to the entire arts industry,” says Barnes. “The reopening of the Center is a true testament to the emotional power of the arts.”

She continues, “We ‘quietly’ embarked on a capital campaign several years ago. The pandemic added significant uncertainty and stress to an already herculean undertaking. The perseverance of staff, crew, and supporters during this time has been nothing short of miraculous. We know the full recovery of the arts may take years, and the possibility to recover in a fully renovated, state-of-the art venue made possible by this community fills me with hope and joy.”For more information about the Washington center, please visit www.washingtoncenter.org.