After raising more than $2 million toward its fundraising goal, the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center is turning to the general public for help.
The nonprofit hopes to raise a total of $5 million through its Encore endowment campaign, ensuring that it will be able to contribute toward operating costs at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo far into the future.
“A robust endowment has been a dream of the foundation since before the PAC opened in 1996,” said Heather Cochrane, executive director of the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center since 2011. “It’s really seen as a way to secure the future of the Performing Arts Center.”
On the edge of the Cal Poly campus, the PAC features the 1,289-seat Harman Hall, the 489-seat Spanos Theatre and the 180-seat Philips Hall, as well as the Pavilion, which can seat up to 400 people. It was built as a result of a joint venture by Cal Poly, the city of San Luis Obispo and the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center, founded in 1986.
According to the foundation, 45 percent of the PAC’s annual operation costs are funded through hall rental and technical fees, while the rest comes from Cal Poly, the city and the foundation. This year, $1.7 million of the PAC’s $3 million budget will come from those three entities, Cochrane said.
“The PAC is debt-free because of our unique (arrangement),” said Becky Singh, marketing and communications coordinator for the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center.
Cochrane said this is the first time the foundation has launched an endowment campaign. Many of the foundation’s 514 active members — defined as those who have given to the organization in the fiscal period between Sept. 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014 — have been involved since the beginning.
“It’s really time for that next generation to embrace that mission,” Cochrane said, adding that she feels donors are excited about stepping up to the plate. “A lot of people weren’t aware that there was a need for that (before).”
When the foundation kicked off the “quiet phase” of the Encore campaign on Sept. 1, 2013, it already had an endowment of just under $3 million, Cochrane and Singh said, the result of investment growth and contributions collected over the past 20 years.
Between then and now, 87 foundation members — a mix of new donors and long-term supporters — contributed more than $2 million to the campaign, Cochrane said, bringing the foundation to 80 percent of its total fundraising goal of $5 million.
Now, the foundation is opening up the Encore campaign, which officially ends Sept. 30, 2015, to the community at large.
If the $5 million endowment goal is met or exceeded, $250,000 will be generated each year toward the PAC budget, Cochrane said. Funds would come from interest income, she said, not the principal.
That would free the foundation to focus fundraising on other efforts, such as enhancing public access to the PAC. For instance, the nonprofit currently provides free tickets to student matinees — 8,000 in 2014, Singh said — and wants to eventually provide transportation grants to local schools.
In addition, the foundation wants to provide financial aid for local performing arts groups, which receive a 75 percent discount in PAC rental costs but must pay for technical fees.
“I love the PAC, and I love going to the PAC,” Cochrane said. “It’s really a place that brings our community together.”
The kickoff of the public phase of the Encore campaign coincides with Thursday night’s sold-out “Curtain Up!” showcase at the PAC, which features performances by Deyo Dances, the Central Coast Children’s Choir, the San Luis Obispo Symphony and Cal Poly a cappella group Take It SLO, among others.
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For more information about the Encore endowment campaign, call the Foundation for the Performing Arts at 541-5401, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://fpacslo.org.