Project Director Chris Fidler stands on the stage of the Field Arts & Events Hall’s performance venue in March 2021. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News file)

Project Director Chris Fidler stands on the stage of the Field Arts & Events Hall’s performance venue in March 2021. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News file)

Field Arts and Events Hall sets date for opening

Fundraising efforts continuing

PORT ANGELES — Project organizers expect to raise the curtain on the Field Arts and Events Hall by May 2023.

Executive Director Steven Raider-Ginsburg said Wednesday his staff and project fundraisers are “laser focused” on Aug. 8 for completing a capital campaign to finish construction of the 41,000-square-foot venue.

It will include a 500-seat performance hall, a coffee shop, a gallery and a food-preparation kitchen for banquets and meetings for up to 400 participants.

The gleaming waterfront building at North Oak and West Front streets is 65 percent complete and $6.5 million short of $50 million needed to finish the interior, Project Director Chris Fidler said, joining Raider-Ginsburg at a Clallam County Economic Development Council presentation.

“We do think we’re anticipating opening 14 to 16 months from now, that we will open the doors and all the occupancy will be ready and everybody will be able to come in and that this pandemic will be mitigated at that point,” Raider-Ginsburg said.

If the pandemic is still a concern by then, “there are ways through spacing, just like the [Port Angeles] Symphony is doing now,” he said. “Then we can add on the virtual experience on top of that.”

Raider-Ginsburg said fundraising efforts will include naming rights assigned to seats in balcony-topped Morris Auditorium, named for the late Donna Morris, who bequeathed $9 million in 2014 to establish the facility, and the cornerstone feather of Field Hall.

The rights cost between $2,500 and $10,000 a seat depending on location, Fidler said later in an email.

Fidler said at the meeting that organizers so far have spent less than 2 percent of donated funds on operations and less than 1 percent on raising funds.

Fundraising consultants had told him it would take between 10 percent and 15 percent to pay for the capital campaign.

“We were kind of astonished by that number, and so we chose to not engage those particular consultants and really try to raise the money ourselves.”

Day-to-day expenses are increasing.

Raider-Ginsburg was hired in August, replacing Fidler, who was interim director, and Director of Development Jamie Coffey and Office Manager Karyn Bocko started last week. Also on the staff is legal counsel Stephen Moriarty and bookkeeper Judi Jones, according to the nonprofit’s website, www.fieldhallevents.org.

“We’re getting close to that time in terms of knowing what the cost of operations are,” Raider-Ginsburg said.

After the capital campaign ends in August, the staff will narrow down forecasting models and fine-tune expenditure estimates, Raider-Ginsburg said.

The exterior and building shell was completed when construction was delayed 10 months ago. It includes 8,100 square feet of exterior glass that Fidler called the largest window on the Olympic Peninsula.

The structure sits on 183 steel piles driven an average of 42 feet.

“I like the term, when a pile is driven as far as it will go, and they pound it 10 more times to make sure it’s in, they call that the point of refusal,” Fidler said.

Construction began at 60 percent of funds raised and stopped at the 75 percent mark when the shell and core were done, Fidler said.

Having those two features completed is “our most important fundraising tool,” he said.

“It now allows us to take folks in to see the interior of the building,” to get a feel for what’s been accomplished, he said.

When the pause kicked in, the entire nonprofit sector was suffering from fundraising woes, Fidler said.

Fidler said he has signed 13 change orders throughout the project.

“It’s indicative of how well this project is proceeding,” he said.

The project has consumed 21 percent of the contingencies allocated, most of which had to do with site preparation and concerns with what was underneath the soil when the construction began.

The project contractor, Minneapolis, Minn.-based M.A. Mortenson, which has an office in Kirkland, was asked to give priority to local contractors.

That has resulted in the 2,700 yards of concrete needed for the project being poured and placed by Angeles Concrete of Port Angeles, the electrical work done by Olympic Electric of Port Angeles, and the site preparation conducted by Jamestown Excavating Services of Sequim.

Fidler said $11.3 million in hard construction costs went to Clallam County and North Olympic Peninsula businesses.

To encourage savings in the project, Mortenson received 30 cents on the dollar and the nonprofit would receive 70 cents.

“It allowed us to end up at shell and core at $422,000 under budget,” he said.

Raider-Ginsburg, describing the auditorium, said the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra is a partner in the project, designated by Morris in her will when she left the largest gift ever received by a nonprofit in Clallam County.

Other partners specified in the will included the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, Peninsula College, the Peninsula College foundation, the city of Port Angeles, the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center and the Community Players.

“What you can expect for programming is that we’ll have a diversity of performances,” he said.

“We’ll have movies, dance, theater, music of all kinds, talks, debates, spelling bees.

“It’ll be not only a performance center, but a civic center and a space for social gatherings. We’ll have our coffee, we’ll have soups, we’ll have deserts, we’ll have visual arts, we’ll have conferences, and meetings and of course; we’ll have a bar there as well.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Chris Fidler, former executive director of the Field Arts and Events Hall, stands in what will be a conference area during a tour of the Port Angeles last March

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