Representatives of the Performing Arts Task Force haven't lost sight of their goal: To raise money for a performing arts center in the Tri-Cities.
The group's latest venture challenges the community to become part of the 500 Club, which is for anyone who donates $500 to a fund that will be used only for running the facility once it's built.
"Laurel Piippo started the 500 Club project last year," said Jo Brodzinski, fundraising chairwoman for the project. "She challenged all her friends to donate $500 for the managing and running of the PAC (Performing Arts Center). She raised more than $10,000 and we are now ready to announce this as part of our fundraising program."
The 85-year-old Piippo of Richland is passionate about getting the community to pony up for the center.
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"I think every middle-class person with a decent income should be responsible for a $500 annual contribution for operating expenses that are not covered by ticket sales," Piippo said.
She said the Tri-Cities has needed a performing arts center for decades and "very talented and artistic people have worked and worked and worked with local government but instead we have everything else but. We have 6,000 members of different arts organizations and they deserve a decent place to perform and the public deserves a decent place to sit and watch."
Money donated to the 500 Club is secured in an endowment fund and can not be used for a study about the proposed arts center, only for its upkeep should the day arrive when it actually becomes a reality, Brodzinski said.
"We need the building," Piippo said. "It is just as important as a swimming pool or the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center or the carousel and we hope for corporate backing but mainly people who think that theater arts are important."
Brodzinski and Piippo, along with other members of the task force, will talk about plans for the Performing Arts Center and the 500 Club at this weekend's Encounter event at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.
Encounter is a festive family-oriented event sponsored by St. Patrick's parish in Pasco. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
"Our fundraising goal is to raise $10 million in matching funds for the PAC and the 500 Club will be for running it," Brodzinski said.
Piippo got it started, and Brodzinski plans to see it to fruition, she said.
"We won't turn any donation away, and we plan to hold a telethon in August as well," Brodzinski said.
Checks for the 500 Club should be made out to ACTF (Arts Center Task Force). In the memo field, write "PAC 500 Club" and mail to Fundraising Chairman, 286 Meadow Hills Drive, Richland, 99352. Donations are tax deductible.
For more information, call Charles Eaton at 375-1319.