Garlic Festival gives $250k

Gilroy
– Not a single patch of dirt has been turned to make way for the
much-anticipated Gilroy Center for the Arts, but city organizers
have already lined up more than half the donations needed to help
the center’s budget stay in the black.
Gilroy – Not a single patch of dirt has been turned to make way for the much-anticipated Gilroy Center for the Arts, but city organizers have already lined up more than half the donations needed to help the center’s budget stay in the black.

Fundraising volunteers announced Tuesday that the Garlic Festival Association pledged $250,000 to support a $3 million endowment campaign for the arts center, planned for completion in the downtown area by 2008. The endowment, held at the Gilroy Foundation, will enable the center to meet its $500,000 annual operating budget while offering discounted rates to local students and nonprofit arts groups.

“Our hope is that our stepping forward and making a commitment of this nature will spur others in the community to make a donation,” said Richard Nicholls, the GFA’s executive director.

In the last two years, the GFA has also dipped into the fund to contribute $250,000 for a new Student Union Cafeteria at Gilroy High School and to provide a $200,000 scholarship endowment for students at GHS and Gavilan College. While the $250,000 commitment will exhaust the association’s charitable fund for major projects, board members were not hesitant in their decision to steer the money to the arts center, according to Nicholls.

“The cultural center is another project that in our eyes benefits the entire community,” he said. “It fits in with what we’re trying to do to help the high school and the college.”

The GFA was the first group to commit funds after the fundraising committee began seeking out potential donors more than a year ago, according to Donna Pray, executive director of the Gilroy Foundation and a member of the arts center fundraising committee.

“For them to lead off this new fund is a tremendous vote of confidence to the foundation and the community,” she said.

The contribution means the Garlic Festival Association will have its name displayed on a brass plaque in the center’s private courtyard directly north of the arts center, which will lie north of Seventh Street between Monterey and Eigleberry streets.

Naming rights to the main hall demand the highest bid, starting at $1.25 million. It includes a lifetime membership to the Friends of Gilroy Arts Center and access to a patron’s lounge. After the main hall, naming rights range from $5,000 for the costume area to $250,000 for the black box theater and $500,000 for the lobby.

The GFA pledge is one of a half dozen large commitments the fundraising group has lined up, according to Pray. She said the committee has secured promises for nearly $1.8 million, more than half the goal. Pray expects to announce the remaining donors in the next week.

The endowment will enable the center to offer students and nonprofit groups discounted rates by financing a projected $132,000 budget shortfall in annual revenues, according to a business plan developed by the city’s consulting firm, The Pacific Group, of Millbrae. The plan predicts the endowment would cover the difference by earning five percent interest on the $3 million, or $150,000, each year.

The remainder of the $503,000 annual operating costs will come from rental fees for special events, concession sales, advertising, and user fees. The largest portion, about $117,500, will come from rentals of space to private and nonprofit groups.

Organizers expect the fundraising campaign to last 18 to 24 months, and the land acquisition and construction to be complete by 2008.

The city will construct the facility, the Gilroy Foundation will raise and oversee the endowment, and an independent group will operate the arts center. Officials estimate the project will cost more than $10 million. Financing will come from a $400,000 state bond and fees that developers pay for city services.

The business plan predicts the arts center will also benefit the wider community, generating $25,000 in sales tax, $64,000 in hotel sales tax, and almost $1 million per year in jobs and revenues for local business.

“We’re excited that something like this is going to happen in Gilroy,” Nicholls said. “It’s a good solid project … … that will give back to the community for many, many generations.”

Purchase a name

Price Room/area

$1,250,000 Main theater

$500,000 Lobby

$250,000 Blackbox stage or courtyard

$175,000 Colonnade/promenade

$125,000 Rehearsal room or classroom

$50,000 Box office

$35,000 Member’s lounge

$25,000 Kitchen or concession bar

$15,000 Star dressing room

$10,000 Women’s or men’s dressing room or fountain

$5,000 Costume, prop, piano storage room

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