Creative Alliance ‘historic’ | Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Arts and culture groups based at Fort Worden Historic State Park are getting a major rent reduction for the next 25 years and in exchange have agreed to make improvements to historic buildings in the park.

Eight non-profit arts and culture groups that use the fort’s facilities have been granted new 25-year leases – rent-free – in return for a commitment to make improvements to the site’s buildings, many of which have significant health issues. ‘maintenance.

The cost of capital improvements is expected to cost more than rent, said Robert Birman, executive director of Centrum, one of the groups housed at Fort Worden. But with the combined efforts of the eight nonprofits, Birman said there are more opportunities for grants and philanthropic giving.

“I think this will open the doors to new philanthropy,” Birman said on Friday.

“In concrete terms, we are interested in large foundations and/or family foundations. It’s an opportunity to stand in front of some people independently, we wouldn’t have been able to do that.

Based on a study he commissioned, Birman said deferred maintenance costs for park buildings amounted to about $30 million.

The eight organizations – Centrum, Copper Canyon Press, Madrona MindBody Institute, Northwind Art, Port Townsend School of Woodworking, KPTZ Radio Port Townsend, Corvidae Press and Rainshadow Recording – collectively call themselves the Creative Alliance in Fort Worden.

“What excites me is the idea of ​​going into some pretty big foundations that we don’t reach independently,” Birman said.

The organization has no plans to formally incorporate, Birman said, but the alliance’s trustees will work together to seek funding as a collective group, rather than a small non-profit organization. individual non-profit.

Birman said the group plans to direct grants and finances through the Fort Worden Foundation, a separate nonprofit that supports the park.

Previously, Centrum’s lease was never longer than three years, Birman said, but the alliance was able to negotiate with the Fort Worden Public Development Authority, the agency that manages the park with Washington State Parks. Having a 25-year lease means these organizations can focus on delivering programs to the public, Birman said, without having to worry about rent.

According to a press release from the alliance, 17 buildings are covered by the new lease terms, and based on a state-commissioned independent assessment, 14 of them are Class D facilities, which means they suffer from severe deferred maintenance.

“This is historic,” Birman said in the statement, adding that the group’s investments “will ensure the possibility that the cultural programs and facilities that define this place, and our community of artists, will be here 50 to 100 years from now.” .

Some of the groups, including Centrum, Northwind Art and the Carpentry School, will move into newly renovated buildings, giving them more space.

“We are thrilled to contribute significant and collective resources,” said Teresa Verraes, Executive Director of Northwind Art, “to not only solidify the Creative Alliance’s continued presence at the Fort for many years to come, but to expand our programming, revitalizing and restoring the park’s historic programming facilities.

The Wheeler Theater and McCurdy Pavilion are not part of the agreement, the alliance said, and will remain community-use rental facilities under the management of Fort Worden Hospitality.


Journalist Peter Segall can be reached at [email protected]

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