PORT ANGELES — Construction of the Field Arts & Events Hall will resume Aug. 1, with the goal of opening the event center to the public on July 1, 2023.
Building on the $50 million, 41,000-square-foot structure at North Oak and West Front streets had been stopped in March 2021 due to a slowdown in donations.
”It’s big news that our COVID-19 induced construction pause will be over,” Executive Director Steve Raider-Ginsberg said during a press conference on Thursday.
The announcement was made in what will be a large conference room overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca; it is expected to be one of the building’s most heavily-used aspects.
“Once Field Hall is open, we can fulfill our mission which is to be a home for arts and events that brings people together and strengthens our community,” Raider-Ginsberg said.
Raider-Ginsberg also introduced the “tag line” for the facility, saying it highlights the commitment of making the development accessible to everyone regardless of ability or finances — “Field Hall for All.”
“We believe this honors Donna Morris’s love for Port Angeles, the arts, and the vibrant arts culture that exists here,” he said.
Morris’ 2014 behest of $9 million specifically for a performing arts center prompted the project on the Port Angeles waterfront.
”Donna believed that performance groups and the residents of Port Angeles deserve a world-class venue, and here it is. And it’s true for everyone,” Raider-Ginsberg said.
”Also in accordance with Donna’s vision, Field Hall for All envisions an inclusive, accessible venue for all our partners.”
Field Hall personnel aim to further engage the public and bring them in to use the Field Arts & Event Hall.
“We will have a Washington local series, which features and promotes virtuoso performers from throughout the state,” Raider Ginsburg said.
”We will initiate a ‘pay it forward’ series which is a free series of performances, paid for in full by the generosity of Field Hall donors.
“We will have flexible and dynamic pricing so that families and low-income patrons can access the arts without worry.
“We will have free educational programs, such as Peninsula Performs, serving public schools with arts-integrated learning as well and a lunchtime learning series that will be here in this building in our lobby.”
The aim is universal access, Raider Ginsburg said, “so that everyone, no matter what their barriers, maybe can enjoy this community aspect.”
Matt Deines, CEO of First Federal Bank, told of the bank’s donation of $2 million dollars to help with the completion of the building.
“We are so glad to be part of the story that brings Field Hall to life,” Deines said.
Field Hall is on a 1.6-acre parcel purchased with a $1.43 million donation from Dorothy Field. It eventually is to be joined by the Feiro Marine Life Center and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and a cultural center operated by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
President of the Board for the Field Art & Events Hall, Brook Taylor, promoted the naming rights campaign for the seats in the theater that will generate more funds for the completion of the building.
“We have just launched our Take A Seat campaign,” he said.
”When I started making presentations in 2016, I was always asked, ‘are you going to have naming rights for the seats?’ because every theater does, and I said yes when the time is ready,” Taylor said.
”The time is now, seats have been ordered, and all 500 will be installed by next spring.”
Taylor said that the people who have purchased the box seating will have the naming rights to seats in those boxes, about 50 seats per box.
“We have adopted what I think is a sensible four-tier pricing structure,” Taylor said.
“Those seats vary in pricing from $2,500, $5,000, $7,000, and $10,000 for front row orchestra and front row balcony. The idea was to provide pricing that suited everybody, everybody who wanted to be invested in this building,” he added.
Other speakers at the event included Rep. Steve Tharinger of Legislative District 24, and Congressman Derek Kilmer for Washington’s 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula. Both are running for re-election in this year’s elections.
“We have been through a fairly challenging last few years during the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s exposed a lot of weaknesses and gaps and needs in our social fabric,” Tharinger said.
”It also highlighted the importance and need for the arts to maintain our well-being.
“We need places like this stunning performance hall to celebrate those parts of the human spirit which help us balance all the negativity and trauma caused by challenges we face,” Tharinger said.
Said Kilmer: “This is progress. They say that change is inevitable but progress is optional. This progress is a testament to the vision of Donna Morris and the generous gift from Dorothy Field.
“It’s a testament to the willpower of this community to get stuff done,” Kilmer said.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].