Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - September 3, 2010

Guest opinion: Community supports Firehouse Arts Center in a big way

by William R. Butler

Following the Around Pleasanton column in last week's edition ("Amador Theater Staying Open"), I would like to discuss the role the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Foundation (PCAF) has played in the Firehouse Arts Center project. Our foundation was formed in 2004, as an offshoot of the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council (PCAC), to conduct a capital campaign for the Firehouse Arts Center. Our primary goal has always been to raise $2 million to complement the investment the city is making in this public arts facility. We can look to surrounding communities to witness that successful public arts facilities are a partnership of public and private funds.

Once the project design was formally approved by the City Council in 2006, our fundraising efforts truly began. To date, we have donated $500,000 to the city and will be presenting an additional $150,000 at the Sept. 7 council meeting. Donations to our foundation have been in the form of cash, stocks, bequests and, in some cases, multi-year "pledges." These future multi-year pledges will hopefully get us to our end goal.

To clarify, contributions to PCAF have not "dwindled," but rather we have been overwhelmed with the flood of interest in the Firehouse Arts Center in the weeks leading up to the Opening Night Gala on Sept. 17. We believed this might be the case as the building began to take shape. Our gala committee should be applauded for its efforts, and the more than 350 guests that will be attending clearly demonstrate the excitement our community has for this project. We look forward to building on the community's continued support to meet our financial goals as our campaign concludes over the next several months.

The foundation believes the Firehouse Arts Center will truly complement not only the Amador Theater but the existing arts facilities in the Tri-Valley, by offering a more intimate setting and a broader arts experience than are currently available in traditional performing arts venues. This wonderful facility, with its 240-seat flexible theater, spacious art galleries, dedicated classrooms and grand lobby will provide a multitude of benefits to our community. In addition to bringing quality arts and new cultural experiences to our residents, it will also provide opportunities to enhance the arts education of our youth. No less important is the positive economic impact the facility will provide in the added economic vitality and expansion of our downtown.

As members of the board of PCAF, we are proud of our accomplishments in advocating for, bringing visibility to, and raising funds for the Firehouse Arts Center. Our collective efforts have built a positive momentum for the arts in this community despite facing the most challenging economic times in recent memory. We are now ready to transition our efforts back to PCAC knowing it will continue the important work of supporting and providing leadership for the arts in our community. We hope those that have supported this project will continue to support the arts through their endeavors.

William R. Butler currently serves as the president of the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Foundation (PCAF). He works with Citi Private Bank and lives in Pleasanton with his wife Christine and their three children.

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