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A new, multi-venue performing arts center in Bellingham, WA, providing affordable space for performances, classes and events. Our Kickstarter campaign was funded to 109% — THANK YOU!
A new, multi-venue performing arts center in Bellingham, WA, providing affordable space for performances, classes and events. Our Kickstarter campaign was funded to 109% — THANK YOU!
583 backers pledged $71,120 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$71,120

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Sylvia Center for the Arts

A new community performing arts center in the heart of Bellingham, Washington’s Arts District!

 

What is the Sylvia Center?

 

A place where performers can train, perform, and collaborate. Sylvia Center features multiple performance spaces, classrooms, and studios, all available to the performing arts community of Bellingham. 

Our opening phase of the center includes:

SYLVIA CENTER STUDIO THEATER with a sprung dance floor for classes, rehearsals, and performances for up to 70 patrons. The studio serves as a classroom, rehearsal space, and theater. 

LUCAS HICKS THEATER is our largest performance space, with seating up to 160 people. Music concerts, dance performances, and plays will make up the season in the LHT, serving over a dozen arts organizations and over 25,000 patrons each year. 

PROSPECT STREET GALLERY is the entrance of the center. The walls will be home to the work of local artists, and the gallery will be yet another performance space for weekly poetry readings and concerts. 

GREEN ROOM for the Lucas Hicks Theater, complete with makeup counters, costume storage, and a private restroom, will be a place for performers to ready, relax, and await their entrances. 

LONG HALL GALLERY connects all our center's spaces and serves as a second hanging space for artwork. 

Sylvia Center will house over a dozen resident companies including the iDiOM Theater season, Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center's weekly concert series, and a growing list of dance, music, and theater organizations. 

WJMAC's Weekly Jazz Series
WJMAC's Weekly Jazz Series
iDiOM Theater's Blank the Musical
iDiOM Theater's Blank the Musical

Sylvia Center will also be the home to a new hub for arts outreach and education. Events such as our Summer Rep: Free Theater in Maritime Heritage Park will bring the talents of Sylvia Center to public spaces for everybody to enjoy. Our love for interdisciplinary collaboration invites artists from every artistic medium to take part.

The Emperor of the Moon. Free theater in Maritime Heritage Park
The Emperor of the Moon. Free theater in Maritime Heritage Park

What will this Kickstarter fund?

This May will see the opening of The Lucas Hicks Theater - a 160-seat performance space for music, theater, and dance, and the Prospect Street Gallery. The Long Hall Gallery will also open and connect our existing Studio Theater with the main Prospect Street entrance. 

The funds from this campaign will not only make the opening of our arts center possible, they will help us achieve our goal of making our spaces affordable and accessible to performers and audience alike. 

Performance venues are not only great for the community, they are great for the economy. Theater patrons increase spending at downtown bars, restaurants, and retailers. Theater festivals bring out of town visitors to local hotels, and enhance our county as a tourist destination. 

When all phases of our art center are open it will serve over 40,000 patrons annually. 

What’s in a name?

The first names to grace our center and our main stage theater speak volumes beyond what we can with our work. The spirit, kindness, and passion of these two individuals live on in the spirit of our work at the center. 

Featured Rewards

This spring will be full of shows and celebrations. You can be one of the first through the doors and part of building a lasting legacy for the arts! 

Join our campaign and celebrate the opening this spring!
Join our campaign and celebrate the opening this spring!

Add your name to the growing list of supporters of the Sylvia Center, and receive an invitation to our opening celebration on May 10th, 2018. 

Attend the first show in the new Lucas Hicks Theater.
Attend the first show in the new Lucas Hicks Theater.

The first performance in the new Lucas Hicks Theater will be an auspicious occasion, and one that brings iDiOM Theater Alumni from all corners of the country to celebrate an especially chaotic 48-Hour Theater Festival.

Give the gift of amazing theater... to yourself.
Give the gift of amazing theater... to yourself.

Western Washington University's Rich Brown directs Pulitzer Prize and Obie Award-winning playwright Annie Baker's play about music, poetry, silence, and a band called (among many other things) The Aliens.

Theater openings are magic and delicious.
Theater openings are magic and delicious.

Celebrate the opening of our center at any one of our first shows. Come eat, drink, and mingle with the supporters of our project an hour before showtime, and be the first to see these shows premiere in our new space.

Join the community of Sylvia Center!
Join the community of Sylvia Center!

Sylvia Center member benefits can be found on our website. Membership perks are supported by all our resident companies and a growing list of community partners. 

Represent the project near and far.
Represent the project near and far.

Not everyone can make it to our events. That’s challenging if you are in Germany or Brazil, for example. For those art lovers afar who want to support the amazing performers of Bellingham, WA, you can represent us wherever you are with our brand new t-shirts (and yes, you can also get a t-shirt if you live in town…).

An open invitation to a season of theater and celebrations.
An open invitation to a season of theater and celebrations.

iDiOM Theater is Sylvia Center’s first resident company and the hardest-working theater in the known world. Their annual season includes theater festivals, storytelling series, competitions, new translations, adaptations and original work, opening receptions, and parties.

A gift for a loved one, for yourself, for the community, for the arts...
A gift for a loved one, for yourself, for the community, for the arts...

Be part of the future of performing arts in Whatcom County with a permanent place in one of our new theaters.

Our Studio Theater and the Lucas Hicks Theater will be furnished with vintage Zenith Chairs made by the American Seating Company, featuring cast iron sides, molded wooden backs, and black upholstery, lovingly refurbished by the hands of the Sylvia Center team and volunteers.

Our arts center is built by our friends and patrons.
Our arts center is built by our friends and patrons.

Our donor tiles have a home as a permanent installation in our gallery. Hav your name included with the other patrons who have helped bring the Sylvia Center to life.

Our donor wall tells the story of the founding of our theaters.
Our donor wall tells the story of the founding of our theaters.

A permanent home on our gallery donor wall. $2,500 donors are also listed in our playbills and on our website, and receive an iDiOM Theater Season Pass.

Never will a $5000 investment in community go so far.
Never will a $5000 investment in community go so far.

Donor wall tile and profile in our playbill and on our website. Our patrons make up the community our center serves. Celebrating your gift elevates what we do and our connections. $5,000 donors also receive two iDiOM Season passes.

A lasting legacy as a founder of the performing arts in Bellingham.
A lasting legacy as a founder of the performing arts in Bellingham.

 Our Studio Theater, art galleries, green rooms, classrooms and studios are all available for 15-year-minimum naming rights contracts.

As you can see from the naming of our center and our theater, names are important to us. If you have a community business, foundation, or individual connected to the arts whose name should be on one of our spaces, we would love to hear your story.

Why do we believe in the arts?

The arts teach empathy, compassion, critical thinking, multiculturalism, tolerance, trust, and kindness. It is born from a spirit of generosity that enhances the community or patrons and the community of creators. 

We believe art makes better people and brighter communities, and that our project will better the future for the performing arts in Whatcom County.

Bellingham Dance Company's Peter Pan in the Sylvia Studio
Bellingham Dance Company's Peter Pan in the Sylvia Studio

Our Goal

Our goal is to offer an affordable and accessible space for arts organizations to make work and collaborate, and to enhance the community through the performing arts. We want to encourage artists to create, take risks, and to innovate, and celebrate the unique voices of our city. 

 Thanks to all the writers, directors, choreographers, composers, teachers, students, actors, photographers, painters, poets, and storytellers who have already brought our studio space to life. Thanks to all of you here to bring the next step of the dream into reality. 

Risks and challenges

We have always dreamt big, and the launch of this project is no exception. Building a 16,000 square foot facility, housing arts organizations, creating an education program, and making sure all those things operate in harmony is no small feat.

Sylvia Center for the Arts was launched by iDiOM Theater. We have been a 501(c)(3) non-profit for nine years, and a working arts organization for twice that long. This gives us almost two decades of experience working and collaborating in the local performing arts community.

This project will see our organization grow 600% in just a few years.
That is a massive logistical challenge, and we have experienced people at work and a thought out plan to meet it:

Our Resident Company program helps us serve our community and also utilize the energy and volunteer force of hundreds of artists to help us meet the challenges of operations.

Our three-year plan has us aggressively expanding our board, internship program, and staffing to meet the needs of our growing organization. This is already underway.

Our Executive Director, Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao brings his expertise working at multi-venue performing arts centers in Boulder, CO and New York City, NY. Our newly expanded board of directors along with our capital campaign cabinet bring decades of experience to the project in management, marketing, grant writing, public relations, and operations to the table.

Our project was reviewed by the State of Washington and the WA State Chamber of Commerce. After analyzing our plan and budgets, we were awarded a $333,700 Building for the Arts grant that helped bring our project that much closer to opening. The project will continue to get state funding beyond our opening, as we move to the final phase of construction.

Even more daunting than the complexities of operations is the challenge to open our facility. We began with a plan of opening in phases to bring the public into the facility as much as possible, and show the community what a new art center would look like, and what it might mean to our corner of the Pacific Northwest. Our community heard us. With their help we have opened our studio space, built the walls of our theater and gallery, and are within striking distance of an official opening. Our patrons and patrons of other local arts organizations have invested in our vision.

This campaign will make a Spring opening possible, and put us over the top of the largest obstacle we have been facing every day for the last year and a half: funding the opening of the project.

It is worth saying that some of the things we thought would be more challenging have proved less problematic: Renting our facility won't be difficult. We have more arts organizations, producers, musicians, and teachers that want to use our space than we have room for. This is motivation to get each new phase on its feet as efficiently as possible. It is rewarding to see new students and new performers there on our stages and in our classrooms as soon as we have them built.

There was always a risk that after so many months of hard work that the art center wouldn't become a reality, but that risk lessens each day we move closer to an opening date thanks to the support of our community which has only continued to grow.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Add your name

    Add your name to the growing list of supporters of the Sylvia Center, and receive an invitation to our opening celebration - May 10th 2018.

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    Pledge $17 or more About $17

    HAIKU d'etat!

    It's all about a Poetry Revolution!
    For a limited time only, you can commission a Haiku from us for $5+$7+$5

    This is a TEMPORARY PERK available until 3/29 at 9am. Our FIRST FIVE backers will receive their haiku THIS WEEK!

    Vive la révolution!

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    48 Hour Festival #48 Ticket

    The first performance in the new Lucas Hicks Theater will be an auspicious occasion, and one that brings iDiOM Theater Alumni from all corners of the country to celebrate an especially chaotic 48-Hour Theater Festival.

    Your choice of Friday late show, or either Saturday shows.

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    The Aliens Ticket

    Get a ticket for our first full production in the new Lucas Hicks Theater. WWU's Rich Brown directs Pulitzer Prize and Obie Award winning playwright Annie Baker's play about music, poetry, silence, and a band called (among many other things) The Aliens.

    May 24 – June 9 (except May 25 opening reception – see $50 perk)

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Opening Receptions

    A ticket to your choice of any of our opening night receptions.

    May 11th: Opening of 48.48
    May 24th: Opening of The Aliens
    June 22nd: Opening of The Seagull
    June 29th: Opening of Mr. Burns’ Post-Electric Play

    Celebrate the opening of our center and any one of our first shows. Come eat, drink and mingle with the supporters of our project an hour before showtime, and be the first to see these premier shows in our new space.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Sylvia Center Membership

    A Sylvia Center Membership is the best way to offer yearly support to our project.

    Sylvia member benefits can be found on our website. Members get invites to special productions and events throughout the year, and membership pricing to all resident shows and a growing list of local community businesses.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Out-of-Towners

    Not everyone can make it to our events. That's challenging if you are in Germany or Brazil for example. For those art lovers afar who want to support the amazing performers of Bellingham, WA, you can represent us wherever you are with our brand new t-shirts.

    SYLVIA CENTER T-SHIRT and name on our Map of Donors

    T-shirts come in your choice of styles mailed directly to you.

    Our donor map will be featured in our new gallery showing a geographic map of our supporters and patrons.

    (Yes, you can choose the out-of-towner perk even if you’re not out of town?)

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    iDiOM Theater Season Pass

    iDiOM Theater is Sylvia Center's first resident company and the hardest working theater in the known world. Their annual season includes theater festivals, storytelling series, competitions, new translations, adaptations, and original work, opening receptions, and parties.

    An open invitation to iDiOM's 17th season of independent theater.

    iDiOM Passholders can see all Main Stage and Studio shows of the iDiOM Season.

    Passes include our NYE Soirée, and special invites to passholder events. iDiOM Passes also include Sylvia Center Membership.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Name a Seat

    Be part of the future of performing arts in Whatcom County with a permanent place in one of our new theaters.

    Name a seat donors will have their name (or the name of their choice) engraved on the armrests of our refurbished vintage theater seats. *optional "donated by", "in memory of", or "dedicated to" lines of engraving.

    Our Studio Theater and the Lucas Hicks Theater will be furnished with vintage Zenith Chairs made by the American Seating Company, featuring molded wooden backs and black upholstery, lovingly refurbished by the hands of the Sylvia Center team and volunteers.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    FRIEND OF THE CENTER

    Our donor tiles have a home as a permanent installation in our gallery. Join our patrons who have helped bring the Sylvia Center to life.

    $1000 donors are also listed in our playbills and on our website PLUS receive four family and friend tickets to Sylvia Center Productions.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    LUMINARY

    A permanent home on our gallery donor wall. $2500 donors are also listed in our playbills and on our website, and receive an iDiOM Theater Season Pass PLUS six family and friends tickets to Sylvia Center productions.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    PATRON OF THE ARTS

    Donor wall tile and playbill/web profile. Our patrons make up the community our center serves. Celebrating your gift elevates what we do and our connections. $5000 donors also receive iDiOM Season passes PLUS twelve family and friends Sylvia Center performance tickets.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    NAMING RIGHTS

    Our Studio Theater, Art Galleries, Green Rooms, Classrooms and Studios are all available for 15-year Minimum Naming rights contracts.

    As you can see from the naming of our center and our theater, names are important to us. If you have a community business, foundation, or individual connected to the arts whose name should be on one of our spaces, we would love to hear your story.

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Funding period

- (30 days)