Field Arts Events Hall is looking to expand its Port Angeles programs

After-school arts activity called Peninsula Performs coming to middle school

PORT ANGELES — In its first six months of operations, the Field Arts and Events Hall in Port Angeles has hosted dozens of events and thousands of attendees and now has plans to expand its operations.

“Our mission is to be a home for the arts and events that bring people together and strengthen our community,” said Steve Raider-Ginsburg, the hall’s executive director. “That’s my focus, to make sure that we are strengthening our community by every event that happens.”

Speaking to a meeting of the Nor’Wester Rotary Club of Port Angeles on Friday, Raider-Ginsburg said the theater is looking to offer more programs and events even as it seeks to raise funds to complete its construction.

Between the center’s opening in July and Dec. 31, Field Hall hosted 26 ticketed events; 41 free events and more than 12,000 audience members with more than $393,000 in ticket sales.

The hall is currently working on expanding its cafe and installing an electronic marquee on Front Street to display upcoming events.

Raider-Ginsburg said he’s been working with the local art and events community around the Olympic Peninsula, including the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts, the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival and Music on the Strait, to find new opportunities for programs.

It recently hosted a fundraiser for rebuilding the Dream Playground and worked with Music on the Strait to purchase a Steinway Model D Concert Piano, the only one of its kind on the Peninsula.

Field Hall also has worked with the Port Angeles School District to provide arts education in the district. The hall sends artist instructors to local elementary schools for art classes and will soon be starting an after-school program, Peninsula Performs, at Stevens Middle School.

“(Students) will be able to choose if they have the time they want to do it. We’re running it for six weeks, bringing our teaching artists there and running students through arts activities,” Raider-Ginsburg said.

There’s also a partnership with Peninsula College to offer a one-year certificate program to become a media technician in sound, lighting and video for both theater and hospitality specialties. The program, known as Media Lab, currently has eight students and hosts four classes entirely at the Field Hall.

In addition to events open to the public, the hall has hosted a number of private events, including class reunions, weddings, a bar mitzvah and 20 meetings.

Customers enter their ZIP codes when they purchase tickets online, Raider-Ginsburg said, and while most sales come from the Peninsula or Puget Sound areas, some tickets have been sold to people as far away as Hawaii and New Hampshire.

Survey information provided by customers shows that events at the Field Hall have resulted in at least 1,100 overnight stays in the area, Raider-Ginsburg said.

The Field Hall cost more than $56 million to construct, but Raider-Ginsburg said another $8 million is still needed to finish the project. The hall does have a line of credit but will continue fundraising to pay down its debt.

“We’re looking for state, federal, individual, corporate, foundation (funding) any which way we can get it,” he said. “The quicker we pay that off, the more resources we have to fulfill our mission. The urgency for me is putting the money right back into the mission rather than debt service.”

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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