Pablo Center Releases Update on $60 Million Budget

Tom Giffey

WINDOWS TO THE FUTURE. The floor-to-(almost)-ceiling windows in the main art gallery of the Pablo Center at the Confluence overlook the Chippewa River. The gallery is just one of the many airy spaces to be found within the new art center, which is slated to open September 22.
WINDOWS TO THE FUTURE. The floor-to-(almost)-ceiling windows in the main art gallery of the Pablo Center at the Confluence overlook the Chippewa River. The gallery is just one of the many airy spaces to be found within the new art center, which is slated to open Sept. 22.

Building, furnishing, and opening Eau Claire’s new downtown arts hub – the Pablo Center at the Confluence – will cost nearly $60 million, according to a budget update released Thursday. The $59.89 million price tag includes $45 million in construction costs for the Pablo Center, which is slated to open Sept. 22.

The budget for the shared university-community arts center – which will contain two theaters, rehearsal spaces, art galleries, classrooms, a recording studio, and much more – includes a funding gap of $8.89 million. The Pablo Center hopes to fill the shortfall with an additional $4.7 million from donors and $4.2 million in grants. According to a media release, the Eau Claire Confluence Council, which will operate the Pablo Center, “has been actively working on numerous grants and feels positive that significant progress will be made over the next two months.”

The Pablo Center is currently under construction along Graham Avenue in downtown Eau Claire, overlooking the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers.

The facility’s budget already included $24 million in local philanthropy, $15 million from the state, $5 million from the city, $3.5 million from the county, and $3.5 million in new market tax credits. No new tax dollars are being requested, the budget update says.

The $45 million construction figure was widely cited as the arts center’s cost in recent years. However, the new budget includes an additional $6.1 million for design and development, $926,000 for “pre-opening expenses” (such as software, IT systems, and staff costs), and $7.9 million for furnishings. The original budget did not include funding for audio/visual technology in numerous parts of the building, including rehearsal rooms, classrooms, the recording studio, and lab spaces.

“Budgeting has been a very fluid process, driven not just by the construction process for an arts center, but also responding to the unique and transformational opportunities associated with what a center of this magnitude can offer to the region in the form of community benefits, workforce development, and innovation,” said a statement released with the budget update.

Read more about budget update, including an interview with Pablo Center Executive Director Jason Jon Anderson, in the next issue of Volume One.

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