PORT ANGELES — Field Arts & Events Hall organizers are hiring top-level managers and creating new positions while waiting to generate enough contributions to restart construction of the $50 million performance venue.
New Executive Director Steve Raider Ginsburg, who has replaced Chris Fidler, will be introduced at the center’s Pillars of the Community fundraiser at 7 p.m. Sunday at Pebble Beach on the city’s downtown waterfront just north of the project, board President Brooke Taylor said Monday.
He most recently was director of the Autorino Center for the Arts and Humanities at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Conn.
Ginsburg, who has roots in theater, began working remotely last week.
“He’ll be raising money, period,” Taylor said.
Ginsburg was not available for an interview Monday or Tuesday.
Fidler is changing roles from executive director to full-time project manager.
“Creating a new position of project manager has been in the works for quite a while,” Taylor said.
“The next addition will be a full-time director of development.
“This is the big push to get us across the finish line so we can finish construction.”
Taylor is hoping director-of-development candidates will be interviewed in September and a person named within up to six months.
“Needless to say, it increases our payroll,” he said.
He declined to reveal the salaries of the new positions.
Fidler and Office Manager Jess Grello have been the only office staff.
“We’ve been running too lean for too long,” Taylor said.
The performance venue-conference facility, part of the planeed 1.6-acre, three-building Port Angeles Waterfront Center at North Oak and West Front streets, will include a 400-seat conference-banquet area.
Construction on Field Hall paused in mid-March due to a slowdown in contributions that has afflicted performing arts projects throughout the U.S., Taylor said.
The 41,000-square-foot building’s glass-wrapped shell was completed before construction was suspended.
The insides are largely bare. A coffee shop and 1,000-square-foot art gallery have been framed but not walled.
Taylor told Kiwanis Club meeting participants June 26, 2020, that he hoped for a Labor Day 2021 opening despite the impact of COVID-19. In October, Taylor announced the pause would start in early 2021 after donations had dried up.
Once work begins anew, six months of construction will include installation of large first- and second-floor restrooms and completion of the 500-seat performance hall stage followed by two months of final pre-opening preparations.
The building contractor, Minneapolis, Minn.-based M.A. Mortenson Company, “is ready to come back on short notice,” he said Monday.
“Just when we thought we were out of the woods, we are not now,” Taylor said.
“We don’t know how that will impact us in the next six months. We’re masking up again, and we’ve got a huge population of unvaccinated people.
“People may become reluctant again to have face-to-face contact, which is the heart and soul of fundraising.
“There are too many variables. All I know is, the building sells itself, so the key is getting people who have an interest into the building.”
To that end, the center is offering tours for groups of two to five people, Taylor said.
Taylor said $4 million has been raised since the construction hiatus began 4½ months ago, including $2 million from the state Building for the Arts capital grant program.
“The rest is all private, and the No. 1 source of donations is people buying naming rights to the pillars,” Taylor said.
Donor names are memorialized on glue-laminated Douglas fir mullions that frame the facade’s checkerboard windows; they dominate two walls and highlight a third.
The privilege costs contributors $25,000 they can spread out over three to five years.
Taylor said 33 of the 60 mullions are taken, with naming rights to performance hall seats eventually available.
Naming rights are currency for arts and events center projects, Taylor said.
“It’s a perpetual right that stays with the building as long as the building stands,” he said.
Soroptimist International of Port Angeles-Noon Club, already part of the city’s history, donated $70,000 for naming rights to the women’s restrooms, which feature eight bathroom stalls on each floor.
The Soroptimist funds originally were intended for restrooms that were not built as part of the group’s nearby Valley Estuary Project, said Field Hall board member Pili Meyer, a Soroptimist.
Meyer said Friday it’s the largest donation in club’s approximately 75-year history, a string that includes the city’s first public drinking fountain — which replaced a hand pump.
“Getting naming rights to the women’s restroom is kind of humorous,” she said.
“There are never enough restrooms for women. Everyone knows that’s a problem, and even men do, because they have to wait for us.”
According to Ginsburg’s LinkedIn profile, his job at Autorino was to “provide oversight and accountability for all Center operations including curating, producing, marketing, fundraising, financial reporting, membership, and rental programs for a highly utilized performing arts center, serving 30,000 patrons a year.”
His profile at the New England Foundation for the Arts website (nefa.org) described the Autorino Center as “a mission-based world-class performing arts presenter” and Ginsburg as a founder of the Hartford theater company HartBeat Ensemble in 2001.
“Steven was selected by American Theater magazine as one of 25 young theater artists most likely to influence theater in the next 25 years, a 2018 State of Connecticut Performing Artist Fellow, and by the Hartford Business Journal to join the select 40 under 40,” according to the NEFA profile.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].