by Wilfred R. Woods
It should never have happened. The idea of a small group of thespians proposing to build a multi-million-dollar center in Wenatchee was preposterous, ridiculous. But persistence often pays. And today there is not only a 550-seat theater free of debt, but another 160-seat theater built primarily with volunteer labor that is the home of Music Theater of Wenatchee. And attached to Wenatchee’s Convention Center is an Exhibition Hall that was only a dream in the early 1990s. A lot of favorable things had to occur to make these projects possible, including the ability to overcome a number of unfavorable events. It all started in 1989, when the Mission Creek Players, a small theater group, asked Wenatchee’s Allied Arts to study the needs of the community for a performance facility–its size, type, and location.
A task force was formed by Allied Arts, headed by Judy Troy, who with Judy Cornell prepared a questionnaire for every arts group in the valley. The return rate was 100% because Judy Troy personally visited very group or its representatives.
The results showed that a medium sized theater of about 350 to 400 seats was desired by most groups. Music Theater, which had been performing at the small Benton Street property thought they needed only 150 seats. Members of the Allied steering committee, besides Judy Troy, were Don Campbell, Jane Hensel, Sue Lawson, John McQuaig, Dick Woods, Steve Zimmerman, and Gary Montague. A design committee consisted of Richard Carter, Jan Mack, Bob Rowe, Sue Lawson, Mike Sager, Kathy Smithson, and Judy Troy.
They produced a pamphlet in 1992 outlining their proposals: a 400-seat auditorium located on the river, with a smaller rehearsal room, adequate storage, run by a non-profit group but owned by the city or state.
It recommended that it be located on 2 1/4 acres of land with a total estimated construction cost of $5.4 million.
Judy Troy’s hope was that the Chelan PUD would donate the waterfront land, but the only legal option open to the PUD as a public agency was to sell the land at its cost of $ 130000. The committee chose not to purchase the land and the waterfront proposal died.
The next year, discussions were held with the president of Wenatchee Valley College, Dr. Arnie Heuchert, about the possibility of locating a performance center on the campus. The sticking point with local arts advocates was that such a center would necessarily be owned by the state, along with the control of such a facility. So talks went no further.
Later that year there was action on the main street, when Harold Schroeder and his associates bought the Rose/Wade building and warehouse at 231 N. Wenatchee Avenue. The property included office space on Wenatchee Avenue, and a large warehouse and parking lot at the lower level. Schroeder showed the property to several members of Allied Arts, noting that the office space in front was large enough for a 400-seat theater and that the rear would accommodate a smaller theater and other facilities as well, plus parking.
His offer struck a positive chord, and during the winter of 1993-4 a committee was formed to investigate the proposal further. The price was $685,000, a considerable sum for a committee with no funds. Schroeder told the committee that the property value was substantially more than that. His prediction proved correct, as eventually the organization almost doubled its money in selling most of the properties.
The organizers included a number of the original study group, including John McQuaig, Jane Hensel, and Steve Zimmerman, with the addition of Adele Wolford, Harold Schroeder and Wilfred Woods.
They called the proposed center the “Columbia Arts and Exposition Center” and Adele Wolford had an artistic rendering made of the location. Steve Zimmerman advised that the group incorporate, and he had a ready-made non-profit framework to use. He had been the incorporator of the committee that built the plaza fountain, and simply changed the name of that group to “Supporters of the Center.” The change was approved by the original committee.
The group began a study of what should be included in a civic center development. The first, of course, was a performing arts center, plus a smaller “black box” theater space. The existing city’s convention center was also regarded as inadequate for the important Horticulture Association meetings that occur every other year. The agriculture leaders in the community were worried that the association might lose the convention due to lack of space.
They felt that the city needed to expand its exhibit space in the convention center, and so that was included in the proposed program. Another element suggested was the addition of a Children’s Discovery Museum, strongly supported by Laura Jaecks and Shelly Finch. This would be a new enterprise.
First priority: raising funds Raising the funds to buy the Rose/Wade property was the first priority, however. Fortunately, they had support from Quest for Economic Development, the group that had raised $l million for county development. Charles DeJong, executive director, felt strongly that the civic center project deserved help, and his board voted $60,000 to support it.
Other major contributors included Washington Trust Bank and the Wenatchee World. The year 1994 was one of getting organized for fund raising. The group went to the Seattle area to look at theaters in Issaquah, Bellevue, Everett and Kirkland. They asked architect Robert Becker of Kirkland, who had designed the Kirkland theater, to come to Wenatchee to design the local theater complex.
They planned a major kick-off in April 1994, supported by a grant from Piper Jaffrey. That event brought 60 people, who heard presentations by Wilfred Woods, Judy Troy, Steve Zimmerman, Tracy Faulkner, and Jim Bullion.
In the spring the board of directors was enlarged. The executive committee consisted of John McQuaig, president, Steve Zimmerman, treasurer, Adele Wolford, secretary and at-large members Bob Mathison, Wally Gibbons, Vicky Charlie, and Wilfred Woods. Other board members were Woody Ahn, Charlie DeJong, Frank DeLong, Patti Drummond, Gordon Edgar, Marilyn Everhart, Ron Gladney, Courtney Guderian, Jane Hensel, Kristin Isaacson, Laura Jaecks, Bob Johanson, Greg Lair, Rudi Pauly, Mike Salmon, Harold Schroeder, Michael Schaefer, Gene Sharratt, Melanie Shaw, Randy Smith, Karen Wade, and Allison Williams.
Courtney Cox Guderian was hired through the Quest organization to be the executive director of the organization.
Our legislators agreed to ask the legislature for several million dollars in the next session. The single best hope for state funding appeared to be the fund for the arts which matches 15% of arts selected arts projects in the state. $250,000 was requested from the state arts fund. The local group was one of four that were approved by the Community, Trade and Economic Development agency of the state for that amount. But Governor Lowry struck the Wenatchee funding from the list, a blow to the local program.
The group discussed hiring the NCDS (National Community Development Services) of Atlanta for its fund-raising arm, the same group that had run a successful financial campaign for the Quest organization. James Bullion of NCDS reported a feasibility study, projecting being able to raise between 1 1/2 and 2 million dollars.
Ongoing discussions with the City of Wenatchee resulted in the city through its Mayor Earl Tilly insisting that the group get a feasibility study done before launching a fund raising campaign. The Economics Research Associates of San Francisco was retained at a cost of $53,000. Bill Lee of that organization came to Wenatchee, presenting the findings in December 1994. Lee did a comprehensive study of comparable performing arts centers, of the convention center expansion, and the proposed children’s discovery museum.
His conclusions for the convention center expansion were that it would have a positive impact on the area, bringing more hotel/motel revenue, more food sales, and more retail trade. He forecast $l.1 million additional economic impact by the year 2000.
His study of children’s museums elsewhere came to the conclusion that a local museum should be relatively small, with expansion possibilities, and that it would require a subsidy of up to $40,000 annually.
As to the performing arts theater, he also did a wide survey of other facilities. His forecast of a “cautious operating scenario” projected total theater revenues of about $97,000 annually. He concluded: “ERA estimates an annual net operating deficit of $16,000 to $58,000 (in 1994 dollars) for the proposed performing arts center in Wenatchee. Allowing for inflation, the projected deficit is thus $20,000 to $70,000 for the year 2000. Unless the City of Wenatchee is prepared to provide this level of support on an on-going basis, the performing arts center will experience difficulty in sustaining successful operations.” He recommended that the city own the property and lease it to an operating organization. The group took the report under advisement. Recognizing that most performing arts centers of this type require outside assistance beyond ticket sales they were undeterred! They pushed ahead with another study, hiring the Rockey Company of Seattle to do a market study for $25,000.
A telephone survey of 400 local residents was conducted by the Gilmore Associates of Seattle during January 1995 The results: the performing arts project was seen as an investment in the future by most respondents, and that private donations should be the primary source of funding. Most did not agree that hotel and motel room taxes should be used.
When it came to priorities, the center was seen as being less important than a variety of improvements to fire, police and public works.
It appeared that putting the four projects into bricks and mortar would take a miracle. The year 1995 was a memorable one for the Supporters of the Center The group had decided to move ahead with its four-pronged campaign: a new exhibition hall at the city’s Convention Center, to be built by the city; a Children’s Discovery Museum, and a 400- seat theater plus a smaller “black box” space at the Rose/Wade building. The group had agreed to take up their option on that property, and had raised about $200,000 for the down payment. They retained Kirkland architect Robert Becker to design the complex, and he soon had cost projections. He estimated a cost of $4,600,000 for the theater, $721,000 for the Children’s Discovery Museum, and $175,000 for Music Theater’s “black box.” In addition, he estimated that the city’s expansion of the convention center would cost $l,947,000, for a total of $8,315,000. There were two options for siting the theater at the street, the first to use only the Rose/Wade building. A second option was to expand the frontage into the adjacent property owned by the Chelan County PUD, the former Cascade Chevrolet dealership. Acquisition of that property would cost $500,000. It would have raised the estimate of the main theater to $5,388,000. A contract with National Community Development Services was signed to begin a financial campaign. Supporters of the Center produced a campaign brochure entitled “The Case for Support of The Civic Center.” It noted that architectural planning for the convention center expansion and the main theater were in progress. Regarding the former, “With the Hotel/Motel tax to support it, the Expansion should break ground in the Spring or Summer of 1996 and be completed early in 1997 (well in advance of the Horticulture Convention).” John McQuaig and a couple of other SOC board members used the warehouse space at the back of the Rose/Wade building as an indoor inline skating rink while it awaited demolition for the grand projects envisioned on its site. It was a big mothballed fruit warehouse that still had the lines painted on the floor for guiding storage of apple bins. As President of the SOC John was watching the costs escalate on construction of the various projects. He knew building a new black box theater was going to cost at least $ 1.0 million. He suggested the SOC consider the viability of using the warehouse space for the black box theater. It appeared to be a useable warehouse space that could be perfect as the shell of a theater. McQuaig invited the Music Theater board to tour the building and envision the possibilities. They did and in January 1995 asked for a lease of 8400 square feet of space at the lower level of the Rose/Wade property so they could begin to build a small theater space. In addition the Children’s Discovery museum of Wenatchee moved into the back portion of the building. The board approved that lease and gave them 90 days for a feasibility study. This was done in spite of some rather spirited objections from several members of the arts community.
Mike Armstrong became construction chairman of the Music Theater project. He not only supervised the construction, but designed the 160- seat theater. For two and a half years he and his volunteers built the theater from the bare walls to a beautiful state-of-the-art small theater. Their funds ran out before the work was done, and the Supporters of the Center advanced them $300,000 to complete the job, especially the costly electrical work.
The result is a facility that could not be duplicated for less than a million dollars. As Armstrong said, “This truly represents what community theater is all about.”
Music Theater subsequently purchased its hall for $150,000 from Supporters of the Center. The financial campaign was getting organized that spring, with Robert Dalton of NCDS the director. The support of executive director Courtney Cox Guderian through the Quest organization had expired, so she resigned, to be replaced by T. J. Sloan as interim executive. The campaign produced a slick brochure with full color illustrations of the major elements to be built.
By June the group had raised $500,000 of its $2 million initial goal.
Campaign leadership was recruited, and advance gifts were being solicited. In major capital campaigns, most of the funding needs to be gained before a public solicitation is begun.
That fall was memorable for the solicitors. In October, Seafirst’s executive vice president Geanie Aldrich announced that her bank was 8 contributing $250,000 to the campaign. She was no stranger to the community, having been an officer in the Wenatchee branch previously. That was followed the next month by a blockbuster donation–$l million dollars from Bob Stanley, owner of Stan’s Merry Mart. His attorney was Greg Lair, a board member of the Supporters.
Stanley’s decision was approved and in fact aided by his co-owner at Stan’s Merry Mart, Ethel Wright. On a blustery Friday afternoon, Wenatchee Avenue was blocked off in front of the Rose/Wade building, and Stanley announced the gift before a local crowd of three hundred interested citizens, including Rep. Clyde Ballard, Rep. Dale Foreman and Sen. George Sellar. His gift put the campaign over the $2.5 million mark.
It did more than that. It persuaded many local folks and our legislators that a performing arts center was really on the way. The organization honored Bob Stanley by naming the whole civic center complex in his name, with the approval of the city. The theater was named the Seafirst Performing Arts Center (later the Bank of America Performing Arts Center when Seafirst was sold). Bob Stanley died in early 1997 with only half his pledge paid. Ethel Wright paid the other half from his estate earlier than had been promised so that it could be used for the construction of the center.
The year 1996, the fourth under board president John McQuaig, brought a committee together to evaluate architects for the city’s convention center expansion as well as for the performing arts center.
Local architect Terry Johnson of PKJB Architectural Group brought in the LMN firm from Seattle to bid on the convention center expansion, which they won. That firm was designing the Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Symphony’s new home, a huge project.
The convention expansion was funded from hotel/motel taxes. Supporters of the Center found the city reluctant to move quickly, but the council finally awarded the contract and construction began.
Evaluating the many skills needed for the performing arts center, the committee concluded that the LMN group with Terry Johnson as the local cooperating architect, was best qualified to design the center.
Forest Robinson was closing out his clothing store in the Dore building next door to the convention center. He donated the remainder of his lease obligation to the center. The Dores, however, were not interested in dealing with the group.
LMN produced Styrofoam models of the various project to show how they would impact downtown Wenatchee. These were reviewed with the city. In one of those meetings McQuaig suggested that the center location be reviewed, and took the Styrofoam theater to see where else it might fit. It fit perfectly on the vacant space in front of the convention center. It was the entrance plaza and vacant ground at that time. LMN was asked to study the feasibility of moving the theater to this location. A week later they said it was feasible and supported the move.
This was a momentous step. The old location held the Music Theater of Wenatchee’s project, as well as the space for the Children’s Discovery Museum.
It meant that the main theater would be separated from the other elements of the campaign (although closer to the convention and exhibit center). However, there were several strong reasons for the change. Placing the theater next to the convention hall meant that it could be used by conventions. This could provide a good source of rental income. In addition, the convention halls restrooms would be available to the theater, saving perhaps three-quarters of a million dollars in construction costs and on-going maintenance costs could be shared. The parking lot could be shared with the convention center. In addition the Wade/Rose building could be sold and the proceeds invested in the project.
The board of directors approved the change. However there was no communication plan to inform the many investors in the previous capital campaign of the reasons for the move. It resulted in several unhappy investors.
They were not the only ones who complained. A number of local architects, including those who had designed the convention center, claimed that putting the theater alongside the convention hall would ruin the plaza. In an article carried on the front page of the World, they denounced the decision.
Vicky Scharlau took over the presidency of the organization from John McQuaig in 1997. That year National Community Development Services was invited back to run a second fund-raising campaign. Jim Bullion returned, and surveyed the prospects, reporting that he thought he could raise one million dollars more.
He under-estimated the outlook. Thanks to several large donors—the Gates Foundation, Harriet Bullitt in particular, that campaign raised $2 1/2 million. A key local supporter was the late Jim Goodfellow of Goodfellow Bros., who became the second largest local donor after Bob Stanley.
The agriculture community had a significant role, despite the poor apple prices at the time. Their participation included $500,000 of the total. Stemilt and Grady Auvil were two of the larger donors.
The campaign, titled the “Stanley Civic Center Completion Campaign,” had a large body of solicitors. Its brochure listed as Campaign Development Council members Grady Auvil, Steve Baldock, Gary Bolyard, John McQuaig, George Sellar, and Gene Sharratt. Campaign co-chairs were Donn Etherington and Wilfred Woods, with Bob Mathison Advance Division cochair with Mall Boyd. Leadership division cochairs were Dr. Terry Sorom and Connie Wenke- Mercola.
Sally Thompson became the office manager. That was not the end of the Supporters’ good fortune. Vicky Scharlau and John McQuaig called on Rep. Linda Parlette that year, Linda’s first term, to ask for legislative support for the project. Linda took them to see Sen. George Sellar and to Clyde Ballard, Speaker of the House that year.
That resulted in Ballard allocating $3 million from the state budget to the Wenatchee project, the three million dollars that the Seattle Symphony Orchestra had been counting on for their Benaroya Hall. A state agency representative later characterized the $ 3.0 million as coming from the “Speaker’s fund” as a special allocation in the budget designated by the Speaker of the House. The Seattle Symphony folks were not happy. They encouraged the Seattle P-I to send a reporter to Wenatchee. Douglas McLennan came and covered a ‘victory celebration’ put on by Supporters of the Center. Among other things, he wrote: “Perhaps it is telling that there is no mention in the fund raising literature of specific arts groups who would use the new hall. Experience across the country shows that multi purpose performing arts centers are problematic without the strong input of a primary tenant that can articulate its needs.”
That was no doubt true, but it did not stop the local performing arts supporters. That year saw the new little enterprise Children’s Discovery Museum, move out, and finally disappear. It never was able to attract the financial muscle to survive.
In the planning for the new theater adjacent to the convention center one important change was made. That change was the expansion of the basic size from 400 seats to 500, which was made possible by the addition of a balcony. Its estimated additional cost was about $500,000. The Rose/Wade building became surplus, and the Quality Rentals owners bought the property for $650,000. In addition, the Chelan County PUD bought the rear of the original property for $500,000, making Schroeder’s predictions of value come true.
The next year, under President Randy Johnston, promised to be a big one. Susan Droz was hired as executive director with a contract of $80,000 a year. Rio Laird became office manager. That contract brought repercussions from the city later. Droz had been president of the chamber of commerce, and both the chamber and the center needed financial help. When Penny Carpenter conceived the idea of bringing the Festival of Trees to town as a joint chamber/performing arts center project, the two organizations joined to produce it together for two years The following year it was run by Supporters of the Center alone. With the $3 million from the Arts Fund, the Supporters decided to move ahead with construction, with one board member dissenting.
Bids were solicited for a primary contractor, and the Spokane firm of Leone and Keeble was chosen. 11 The contract was awarded with the proviso that local firms become sub-contractors. On May 12, 1998, a groundbreaking ceremony celebrated the beginning of construction, with Seafirst chairman John Rindlaub in attendance plus local politicians and supporters and contractors and architects, thirteen of them performing their duty with thirteen shovels.
The reputation of the Supporters of the Center during the two campaigns had been under attack for several years, rumors being floated that funds were being misused.
The city administration had been a reluctant supporter of the project. Their only actual contribution was $15,000 toward the economic study. It was apparent that the negative rumors had reached them. There was a radio editorial suggesting that the city ought to take over the project, for instance. The city let the Supporters know that they did not approve of the contract with Susan Droz.
The supporter’s board elected to have its entire history audited by an independent CPA firm. That audit clearly eliminated any suspicions of financial wrong-doing and demonstrated that the project was in fact being well managed and should be completed on budget.
The city finally appointed a 13-member committee of local citizens to investigate the operation. The study committee found no fault with the operation, and the city finally agreed to furnish $700,000 as advance payment for use of the theater.
The city’s 50-year lease of the ground space required payment of $17,500 a year, with an annual escalation.
A new president came on board, Bart Clennon, and several new board members including Frank Kuntz, Sharon Johnson and Gene Sharratt. Donn Etherington became executive, and Hank Lewis was hired to oversee the construction for the Supporters. Clennon’s energy and determination were critical in getting the construction of the center completed. He did accomplish that by the fall of 2000.
The Leone & Keeble firm got right to work on the construction, and soon had a large crew at work. But the local labor unions protested to the state’s Labor and Industry department that the contractor was not paying “prevailing wages” to the laborers that was required of state and municipal projects.
The agency that furnished the $3 million arts grant, Community, Trade & Economic Development, had told Supporters that arts grants did not require “prevailing wage” rates. The claimed amount of increased wages was about $200,000.
The project was in a bind, for Leone & Keeble would have shut the project down without a guarantee of resolving the dispute. But the Wenatchee World agreed to back up the supporters with a guarantee good for two years. So the work was finally completed on the project. The major sub-contractors on the job, Wells & Wade Mechanical and Apple City ´Electric, were both local and union, so were not affected by dispute.
So construction continued as usual, and to try to resolve the impasse with Labor & Industries, the board sued them, and won its case in Thurston County Superior Court. Appeal to the next high court was not successful, however, and Labor & Industries was in a position to claim its money or shut the center down.
Fortunately they did not press the Supporters, who did not have the funds at that time.
In fact, it did not have the funds to complete construction. Help came, when John McQuaig suggested forming a limited liability company with personal guarantees by board members..
A limited liability company was organized by McQuaig and Wilfred Woods, and backed up by a number of other board members. They borrowed $1 million only partially covered by pledges. But the job was done by the fall of 2000, and within the original bid price of $5.l million . Clennon resigned as president that fall, along with the three other board members.
A show entitled, “A Showcase of Wenatchee’s Best” was held in September, which included a rollicking spoof of The Wizard of Oz. That was followed by the Follies Guild in February, who donated their $40,000 profit to buy the main curtain for the center.
Jane Hensel took over the presidency at a time when the group had built the hall, but was left with no money to run it. Cynthia Brown had been retained as manager for a time. The board next hired Karl Dietrich, but there was not enough money to pay his $50,000 salary. Hensel went to Jim Goodfellow, who gave her $50,000 for that year, and $25,0000 the following year, when Dietrich resigned.
The center was in trouble. It had unpaid bills for gas, for power, for the city ground lease, and even for the maintenance of the fire system in the center.
Labor & Industries was owed almost $200,000, and there was unpaid balance of more than $450,000 on the bank loan after sale of the Rose/ Wade property.
In 2002 the center leaders felt they should not be paying rent across the street for office space and moved the office to the concession area in the theater. Fortunately, that year Alcoa was donating working staff to various projects around the valley, since the plant was shut down. Material for remodeling the concession space was begged from local firms, and the Alcoa crews did the job under the direction of Theresa Druzak. Another milestone was $25,000 in seed money loaned to help the center contract with traveling shows.
Productions began in 2001. That year Music Theater of Wenatchee produced Annie, the first of a series of Apple Blossom musicals that have been a mainstay of the center. The center also decided to put on the Festival of Trees again, and retained Jennifer Bushong to run it. That festival brought in a critical $60,000 net to the center. The Festivals have become the primary source of support for the operation. The return to the center has steadily increased, with the 2007 net figure $124,000.
The following year was important for the hiring of Sara Cornell as executive director at $30,000 a year. She came aboard in December, just after the second Festival of Trees.
It was during Hensel’s presidency that the board decided that naming seats in the theater would help pay off its bank loan. And it began a program of seat sales that brought in sales of more than 100 seats at $1,000 each. There were no other benefits attached than recognition. Jane Hensel was followed as president by Tom McNair, who also served for two terms. One of the bright moments for him was the Wenatchee High School musical performance of The Pirates of Penzance, which came thanks to Dan Jackson, the school’s choral director. The proceeds went to the center.
While the center had been bringing in events of all kinds, it was during McNair’s tenure that regular planned programming got under way. The programming was led by Anne White and her active committee.
Under McNair another unfinished promise was fulfilled: putting the name of Bob Stanley on the Civic Center. The recognition of other contributors to the building fund did not happen until 2005, when the lower lobby wall was used for that purpose.
The Performing Arts Center began to fulfill its promise, as increasing use of the center’s lobbies and theater began to be used by diverse groups.
The advent of a new city administration brought good news, too, as Mayor Dennis Johnson voided the ground lease contract. The center only had to raise the $6,000 of accrued interest. Dr.Jack Becherer, president of Wenatchee Valley College, took over from McNair, but served a shortened term when he accepted a position elsewhere.
Dr. John Darling followed him with a two-year term, and Tom McNair took another year after that.
The five-year commitment of naming the theater for the Bank of America was not renewed, so the board re-named it the Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee.
The settlement of the long-standing Labor & Industries problem was finally resolved when Steve Zimmerman negotiated a $50,000 payment to that state agency.
That was raised among the board members of the center and other interested donors, who breathed more than one sigh of relief. The 2007-8 term brought in Roger Purdom as president. He had the privilege of seeing the last of the debts finally retired. A concerted push for seat sales was instituted in 2007 under the leadership of Mary Lou Johnson, which brought in enough to retire the bank loan.
The winter of 2007-8 saw a major contribution, a $100,000 grant from Mike and JoAnn Walker and $114,000 from the Sleeping Lady Retreat’s Icicle Fund. Together they made possible the installation of a new acoustical shell for the theater stage plus the addition of new mezzanine office space in the storage room. The Icicle Fund had previously granted $40,750 for improving the ticketing at the box office.
Two grants from the Community Foundation of $5,000 and $1750 were used for staffing additions.
The favorable reputation of the center had grown to the place that when the Moscow Ballet found itself looking for an extra date in the Pacific Northwest, they chose the Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee in October 2007. They sold out three performances with tickets from $40 to $100—a new high mark for the center. Total attendance has continued to grow every year. The 2005-6 season totaled 23,000, and the 2006-7 year grew to 28,000.
As of the spring of 2008, the organization was grossing $850,000.
But its success rested on more than its board and paid staff. A large corps of volunteers has helped make the Festival of Trees a major community event. And in the theater ushers are volunteers as well as a long list of volunteer help in the office. Like most other non-profit associations, paid help can only function well when they are backed up by those who will give their own time and talents.
The current staff members include Sara Cornell, executive director; Sue Brodley, office manager; Don Fox, facilities manager; Kim Richardson, resource development director; Laura Mead, office assistant; and Rafael Aguilar Lopez, custodian. The technical staff includes Brian Lathrop, Aaron Lesky, and Jenny Vannier. Officers are Roger Purdom, president; Kris Loomis, Vice President; Mary Lou Johnson, secretary; and Jim Russell, treasurer. Other board members include Camille Cadman, John Darling, Theresa Druzak, Carolyn Griffin-Bugert, Jane Hensel, Christel Holm, Tom McNair, Earl Norwood, Jim Richardson, Al Rookard, Jolly Ann Seyster, Kathy Smithson, Gil Sparks, Anne White, Wilfred Woods, and Steve Zimmerman. Looking back, the Title of this history is The Miracle on Wenatchee Avenue. But in truth the success of the Performing Arts Center has rested on the determination of local citizens. They refused to be defeated, despite political downturns, the negative reputation, and the huge capital cost that faced them. It is a tribute to the commitment of people who saw a vision for the community—a vision that finally has come true.