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Posted: May 27, 2015 Arts center funding back in state budget

By Leader Telegram staff

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday approved $15 million in bonding in the 2015-17 state budget for a million non-state agency grant to help fund a community arts center in downtown Eau Claire as part of the Confluence Project, state Rep. Warren Petryk, R-Eleva, said.

The committee earlier deleted the request from Gov. Scott Walker's proposed two-year state budget.

The funding still must be approved by the full Legislature and the state Building Commission.

"We fought hard to secure this funding, and I'm very happy to report we were successful," Petryk said. "I'm pleased as punch that it happened."

One of the conditions in the agreement is that the state funds must be matched from other sources. City and county taxpayers have committed $8.5 million to the project, and private fundraising efforts have surpassed $8 million. 

The proposed $40 million arts center is a joint venture of UW-Eau Claire, private interests and local government. 

For much more on this story, see tomorrow's Leader-Telegram or visit

By Community for the Confluence

"We are grateful to the committee members for their vote to provide state funding for the Confluence Arts Center. Their vote embraces the innovative and collaborative nature of the project - and recognizes that by partnering together, the city, county, state, philanthropy and private investment can accomplish much more than the old way of going it alone. The city of Eau Claire has a long and rich tradition of collaboration, and we welcome the opportunity to partner with the state of Wisconsin on this transformative economic development project in downtown Eau Claire."

Kerry Kincaid, Eau Claire City Council President

"The $15-million-dollar investment by the state of Wisconsin in the Confluence Arts Center demonstrates tremendous value for state taxpayers by providing UW-Eau Claire with significant and much needed upgrades to our performing arts facilities at a fraction of what it would cost to build a similar facility on campus.  This is truly a win-win-win for UW-Eau Claire, the greater Eau Claire community and Wisconsin taxpayers. I want to personally thank our local legislators who worked tirelessly in a bi-partisan manner to communicate the many merits of the Confluence Arts Center to their colleagues on the finance committee. It is clear from the results of today's vote that their advocacy on behalf of our university and community was heard loud and clear in Madison."

James Schmidt, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor

"Eau Claire is nationally and internationally known for the quality of our performers and artists. The vote by the committee today will enable our community to create a facility that will provide state-of-the-art space for those performers and artists. Creation of the Confluence Arts Center will have impacts that reach far beyond the arts: Studies show the arts are good business and that the cultural resources the Confluence Arts Center will provide will have rippling economic benefits throughout the community and the region, make Eau Claire a more attractive place for new business, and help existing employers attract and retain top talent."

Ben Richgruber, Eau Claire Regional Arts Council Executive Director

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