Arts Center Task Force expands vision for Vista Field site

The stage is set as Vista Field transforms into Tri-Cities’ new urban core.

And waiting in the wings to take its place there is the Arts Center Task Force.

More than two acres has been set aside for the landmark project — the Tri-Cities’ first center for the arts — aimed at anchoring the new urban development at the now closed airport.

The 30,000-square-foot Vista Arts Center will feature an 800-seat theater, large lobby suited for special events, art gallery exhibits, educational space and catering set-up kitchen.

The Arts Center Task Force, a volunteer-run nonprofit established in 1995, intends for the space to serve all interest areas of artistic expression: music, dance, theater, festivals, exhibits, concerts and conferences.

“Logistically, we have our key partners,” said Renée Adams, executive director of ACTF. “But we will also have open nights … we are curious to hear what else the community wants to see.”

The overall goal of establishing a center for the arts is “making entertainment opportunities available to everybody in our community,” she said. “What are you interested in? What do you travel to Spokane, Seattle and Portland to see? It’s about bringing that entertainment home.”

To date, the task force has accomplished its initial fundraising goals, raising about $1 million toward the project’s development.

“All of that has gone toward purchasing the conceptual design and building on the infrastructure of our organization so that we can build our base for fundraising,” Adams said. “We have completed a draft of our business plan and have had it vetted from other industry pros — other managers of similar-sized theaters.”

Currently, ACTF is in a “quiet phase” of the center’s development, or what Adams called a “pre-capital campaign phase,” in which the group is actively identifying and engaging key stakeholders.

“It’s a phase of lots of grassroots movement with a lot of conversations and collaborations … it’s what happens before everyone sees a big, flashy campaign,” Adams said.

The next step for the ACTF team will be to embark on a capital campaign to raise about $750,000 to pay for a schematic design for the facility.

There’s no official estimate for the project’s total cost, though an earlier figure cited by ACTF was about $35 million.

Vista Arts Center is being funded through private donations and grants, which can be made on a one-time basis or through multi-year pledges. Commitments of time, expertise and materials for the center’s development and construction also are welcomed. All donations are tax deductible.

​ACTF also can accept gifts of various types, including cash, securities, life insurance, interest in or gifts from trusts.

ACTF signed a letter of intent with the Port of Kennewick in 2017, agreeing to raise the money necessary to build the arts center. In exchange, the port set aside a 2.2-acre site for ACTF to buy for $10,000.

“We regard the Port of Kennewick as a partner in achieving our mission,” Adams said.

Adams said the agreement with the port makes the time table for the project flexible for both groups.

For more information about ACTF, go to artscentertaskforce.com or find on Facebook.

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