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Visit Eau Claire wants in on Confluence Project

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by Tom Giffey

ARTS AND TOURISM COLLIDE ... ALMOST. Local tourism agency Visit Eau Claire wants to base the Fun Patrol and the rest of its operations in the Confluence Project, the proposed successor to the State Theatre.
ARTS AND TOURISM COLLIDE ... ALMOST. Local tourism agency Visit Eau Claire wants
to base the Fun Patrol and the rest of its operations in the Confluence Project,
the proposed successor to the State Theatre.

Visit Eau Claire wants its headquarters to be part of the Confluence Project, and the tourism promotion agency is willing to make an investment to ensure the proposed performing arts center/mixed-use development succeeds.

The Visit Eau Claire board announced today (Dec. 18) that it’s willing to pay $50,000 annually to lease 5,000 square feet of space for an office and visitor center in the Confluence complex on South Barstow Street. In addition, once the performing arts center opens its doors, Visit Eau Claire has pledged to spend at least $25,000 per year for at least three years on a marketing campaign focused on the Confluence and events held there.

“The Confluence Project will foster the growth of our city and county through economic development, increased tax base, downtown revitalization, enhanced tourism, cultural/artistic investment, and advanced educational opportunities.” – Visit Eau Claire“We see the opportunity with the Confluence Project is to offer a visitor center presence that’s different than anything we’ve done in the past to serve pedestrian traffic,” said Linda John, executive director of Visit Eau Claire, which currently has its offices on Jeffers Road. “We believe there’s going to be a huge influx of people because of the Confluence and the university programming.” The downtown presence will add to the mobile visitors center and “Fun Patrol” efforts Visit Eau Claire has undertaken at community events in recent years, John said.

In a statement, Visit Eau Claire said it “enthusiastically supports” the Confluence Project, a roughly $80 million public-private proposal put forward by UW-Eau Claire, the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, and Commonweal Development. “The Confluence Project will foster the growth of our city and county through economic development, increased tax base, downtown revitalization, enhanced tourism, cultural/artistic investment, and advanced educational opportunities,” the group said. In addition to a multi-stage arts center jointly owned by UWEC and a nonprofit arts group, Confluence plans call for a privately owned mixed-use building that includes student housing.

Marketing the Confluence and its programs can draw visitors to the area, increasing room-tax collections and providing new funds to the city, John said. In addition, the funding commitment from Visit Eau Claire will help offset the arts center’s operating cost, she added.

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