Whidbey arts center ‘Stage Two’ capital campaign progresses

Above, WICA staff members Stacie Burgua, Sandra Logan and Deana Duncan hop aboard the tractor that makes the first dig for the center’s “Stage Two” expansion. - Photos courtesy of Whidbey Island Center for the Arts
Above, WICA staff members Stacie Burgua, Sandra Logan and Deana Duncan hop aboard the tractor that makes the first dig for the center’s “Stage Two” expansion.
— image credit: Photos courtesy of Whidbey Island Center for the Arts

The Stage Two expansion project of Whidbey Island Center for the Arts received a boost recently.

The local arts center announced its receipt of a $30,000 grant from the Puget Sound Energy Foundation to support the center’s $2.5 million addition.

The foundation makes charitable contributions to qualifying nonprofit organizations to help support a broad range of community programs, with a special focus on initiatives that promote economic and environmental sustainability. None of the Puget Sound Energy Foundation funds come from utility customers.

A capital campaign to fund the expansion project was initiated in 2007 to expand the center. Local donors and foundations have been supportive.

“The Puget Sound Energy Foundation is proud to support organizations like the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts which make a positive difference in people’s lives,” said Phil Bussey, chairman of the Puget Sound Energy Foundation.

“WICA enriches the cultural and artistic fabric of Whidbey and our region with programs and performances that bring great joy, insight and human understanding,” Bussey added.

In recognition of this generous gift, WICA’s new “green room” will be named in honor of the foundation.

The Langley performing arts center was built

12 years ago to serve as a small venue that could accommodate short runs of outside shows.

The nonprofit has since evolved into a producing entity and a major Puget Sound region arts destination with offerings that include the Theatre Series, Family Series, Double Feature Series, Local Artist Series, Literary Series, the WICA Conservatory, the Whidbey Island Theatre Festival, the Emerging Artist Festival and DjangoFest Northwest.

The center’s expansion aims to keep up with the pace of its year-round operations.

In addition to a new green room — the place where performers relax before going onstage — the center will add new dressing rooms, a scene shop, a rehearsal hall and administrative offices.

The Stage Two capital campaign, which began its first phase of fundraising late last summer, is well on its way toward a goal of $2.5 million with $1.6 million already raised, including the recent $30,000 grant and a $450,000 Building for the Arts grant from the state of Washington.

The campaign is expected to last three years.

“We want the public to know we’re still in the ‘quiet phase’ of fundraising for Stage Two and we’ve hit some major milestones,” marketing director Jason Dittmer said.

“We’ll be ready to open up the fundraising to the public after the first of the year.”

Ashley Leasure of OrangeGerbera, Inc. is the Stage Two development director.

Leasure said it is atypical to begin construction before all monetary goals have been reached, but the Stage Two expansion had its ceremonial groundbreaking Nov. 3.

“Having construction go year round will allow operations of the performance center to continue while under construction,” Leasure said.

Passersby will notice a tractor in a fenced-off area behind the building. Permits are in place and excavations for the rehearsal hall, scene shop, green room and dressing rooms have begun.

It’s important that a busy community venue such as WICA be able to continue with its roster of performances, Leasure said.

Leasure is pleased with the generosity of the community and the healthy attitude within and without the organization.

“There are no rumblings here, which is unusual,” Leasure said.

Executive director Stacie Burgua is equally as pleased with the measure of support from donors.

“We really are getting wonderful support, and I’m feeling great about this campaign,” Burgua said.

“People feel happy about this art center, and I’m very excited to be a part of that,” she said.

In January, donors and art lovers will have an opportunity to show their support at the “Something To Crow About,” art show. The show will include the work of various local artists featuring crows. The show aims to honor those donors who purchased seats for the theater in the first phase of the campaign.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or

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