Thursday, May. 3rd, 2018

Economic Development Week Salutes Local Job-Creators

It’s time to tip our collective hats (and maybe tip back a pint or two) to all those who help our job creators in celebration of the Third Annual Economic Development Week, which runs May 7-12. In Eau Claire, the week will be marked with business lunches, mixers, educational sessions, and even an official proclamation.

So what’s Economic Development Week? It was created a few years back to the International Economic Development Council to “increase awareness for local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and increase the quality of life.” Economic development is the often behind-the-scenes work at the intersection of the public and private sectors that keeps the economy humming. According to a press release, the City of Eau Claire is marking Economic Development Week “to celebrate the profession and the professionals that work hard to create opportunities for all citizens and their communities.”

The week will begin with an official proclamation issued by Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid at the council’s meeting on Tuesday, May 8. Other events are as follows:

Wednesday, May 9

• 1 Million Cups – Eau Claire | 9-10am at the Chippewa Valley Technical College, 620 W Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire

• Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce Sixth Annual Working Mothers Luncheon | noon-1:30pm at the River Prairie Center, 1445 Front Porch Place, Altoona

• Musky Tank Mixer – Betting on the Right Jockey! | 6:30-8pm at Modicum Brewing Co., 3732 Spooner Ave., Altoona

Thursday, May 10

• Business Loans in Greater Eau Claire hosted by the City of Eau Claire | noon-1pm at The French Press, 2823 London Road, Eau Claire This event features presentations from the Western Dairyland Revolving Loan Fund, Regional Business Fund, and the City of Eau Claire Loan Programs.

• Chippewa Valley Job Fair | noon-12:30pm (veterans only), 12:30-4pm (general public) at Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center, 3456 Craig Road, Eau Claire

• Business Plan Basics | 6-9pm at Western Dairyland Business Center, 418 Wisconsin St., Eau Claire

Saturday, May 12

• Creative Economy Week Eau Claire is celebrating Creative Economy Week May 12-19. As a key strategy of economic development in the Eau Claire area, check out all events beginning May 12 to celebrate the Creative Economy.

To learn more about the City of Eau Claire’s economic development efforts throughout the week (or anytime), check out @ECEconomicDevelopment on Facebook or visit

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Tuesday, May. 1st, 2018

Eau Claire Police Department Wins National Social Media Honors

Image: ECPD
Image: ECPD

What city has the government agency with the coolest social media presence?  That’d be New York City.  But coming in second in the Government Social Media Golden Post Awards Outstanding Social Media competition was none other than the Eau Claire Police Department. How so and what for? They won for posts like this ...

When Officer Kyle Roder received a scam phone message claiming he would be arrested by local officers for a tax violation if he did not return the call, he decided to con the con artist. Watch the video below to hear Roder’s award-winning conversation with an IRS agent impersonator.  It’s hijinks like these that make the ECPD’s social media pages a multi-award-winning Chippewa Valley favorite.

“It is always great to be recognized nationally and internationally because it shows that what we are doing locally is working,” Roder said.  But it’s not all about the glory, he said. “Social media is all about results, not awards. Just like our officers on patrol, we deliver a professional, sincere service to our community and the results and recognition follow.”

The Government Social Media Awards are given at an annual conference hosted by the Government Social Media Organization, an advisory institute that provides networking and educational opportunities to government agencies that practice social media outreach.  This year’s convention was held in Denver, Colorado.

After the phone call in the video ended, ECPD was unable to reach the scammers again to follow up. “Although I was never able to reveal my identity, with 14 million YouTube views there's a good chance 'James Maxwell Johnson' saw the video," Roder said with a smiley emoticon.

We assume these honors are almost as important to the ECPD as their big 2nd place social media win in Volume One's 2018 Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll. Find them on Facebook.

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Wednesday, Apr. 25th, 2018

Eau Claire People and Businesses Featured in Statewide Video Project

For Midwesterners looking for a place to live that offers a rich, fulfilling life both on and off the clock, Eau Claire’s siren song seems to grow stronger every day. A number of recent videos produced by In Wisconsin – for their “Wisconsin Stories” series – focus on the city as a place with thriving local businesses, culture, and community.

In Wisconsin is a partnership between the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Wisconsin businesses and community leaders. The goal is to highlight the restless drive Wisconsinites exhibit to invent, create, and achieve what makes the state a great place to live, work, and play.

The In Wisconsin website features statistics, photos, videos, and more, offering up resources for finding housing, jobs, and fun things to do in the state of Wisconsin. Check it out to see pieces on Eau Claire, including Ambient Inks (above), Ramone’s Ice Cream, Eau Claire Downtown Coffee, and local nonprofit leader Wesley Escondo (below) sprinkled throughout. You can also find them on YouTube and Facebook.

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Monday, Apr. 23rd, 2018
Thursday, Apr. 19th, 2018

Eaux Claires 2018, Artist-Led Festivals, and the No-Lineup Lineup

Eaux Claires 2017
Eaux Claires 2017

At this point, it’s been well established that the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival is doing stuff differently for its fourth annual installment on July 6 and 7. Most significantly, curators Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner are intentionally not releasing a lineup of music acts. At least not in the traditional sense.

If you’ve listened to the slew of audio clips the festival released over the winter with your Shazam app open or followed Vernon’s subtle-not-so-subtle nods on Twitter, you can probably piece the slate together for the most part. Those bread crumbs lead to names like Noname, Phoebe Bridgers, serpentwithfeet, Julien Baker, Moses Sumney, Hiss Golden Messenger (plus, it wouldn’t be Eaux Claires without the likes of Francis and the Lights and Phil Cook).

But that’s really not the point.

The idea is to subvert the norm of bloated music festivals that have heavily proliferated the country as they become trendier and trendier. The Coachellas and Lollapaloozas of the world are doing their thing and raking in cash, but Vernon and Dessner feel like they have an opportunity with Eaux Claires to create a weekend haven that’s less about a bottom line and more about a collective experience.

Attendees willing to fork over their trust are going in blind, which will be an artistic boon, but how it shakes out financially is anyone’s guess. Either way, changing the conversation and the money-heavy mindset of major music festivals is worth the risk for Eaux Claires, Vernon says – the festival is prominently featured in a Pitchfork story today that discusses how artist-led music festivals like Eaux Claires are changing the game around the country for the better, but it’s not easy.

Here’s a few salient quotes from the piece:

That longevity is the crux. In the first year of Eaux Claires, when Bon Iver returned to the stage after a three-year hiatus, the festival was instantly profitable. Then Eaux Claires lost money for the next two years, Vernon admits, requiring organizers to make some changes. But the bottom line is not the primary focus.

“You can’t just sign up for profit every time,” says Vernon. “But we’re not blindly throwing money down the toilet—we’re adjusting to a more sustainable model.” He compares the festival’s balance sheets to the decades he spent toiling in groups that never made much money, long before he found fame with Bon Iver. “You have to be committed,” he adds. “This is a 20-year thing.”

“There is something artist-driven happening with festivals, even if I don’t think it’s clear where we’re going with it yet,” says Adam Voith, a longtime booking agent for the likes of Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend. “Artists are much more excited about these events than standard festivals now, because there’s a recognition that it’s music-forward and collaborative from the jump.” Voith pauses, then sighs. “But it’s going to take a lot of smart people to figure out how to make these viable long-term.”

With Eaux Claires keeping this year’s lineup a secret until the festival begins, they’re betting they don’t even need a traditional promotional poster at all. For Vernon, his team, and, it seems, most every artist risking their own time and money to build such an idealistic event, the risk seems to be a test worth taking. The broad goal is to push back against entrenched festival rules and change the tone of a conversation in which, sooner or later, they all participate. These bands still play major festivals with corporate boosters, after all, because those outsized paydays help fund everything else they do. But that doesn’t have to be the only option.

“Why does it have to be about maximizing profits every time there’s a question about everything? That bugs me,” says Vernon. “We’re not trying to be the biggest festival in the world. We’re just trying to be the best we can be.”

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Tuesday, Apr. 17th, 2018

Eau Claire: One of the "Best Budget Destinations in America"

Check out this slideshow of Eau Claire action shots from, which included Eau Claire in its list of Best Budget Destinations in America 2018, Part II: The Midwest.

They say, "We’re rounding up value trips across the U.S. (one in each state, plus DC) to inspire Budget Travelers to see more of America for less money. Here, the best of the Midwest."

Of Eau Claire, they say, "In 2014, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary included “Brooklyn” as an adjective. Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is very Brooklyn. Often referred to as the “Indie Capital of the Midwest,” the college town with a decidedly collaborative spirit has become known as an incubator for emerging musicians. They’re even one of the many homegrown attractions at the weekly downtown farmers’ market ..." Read more.

Thumbnail image: Visit Eau Claire

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Thursday, Apr. 12th, 2018

Sculpture Tour 2017 removed! New sculptures on the way ...

Image: Julie Pangallo
Image: Julie Pangallo

This year, a third of the sculptures to be featured in the tour were created by local artists, a significant increase since the tour’s inception in 2011.

Notice something missing in downtown Eau Claire?  This morning in the wee hours, workers were hustling to take down last year’s Sculpture Tour installations; and according to Program Director Julie Pangallo, they did it in record time.  Stay tuned over the next several weeks as new art is placed around downtown.  The official Installation Day is May 9, but you might see a dinosaur stomping around near a downtown parking garage as early as Monday.

This year, a third of the sculptures to be featured in the tour were created by local artists, a significant increase since the tour’s inception in 2011. “I’m so excited because we haven’t sacrificed quality to do that,” Pangallo said. “We have so much talent here in Eau Claire and in the Chippewa Valley.”

“There’s some really neat pieces we have, that I think people are going to be really impressed with the variety,” she said.

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Thursday, Apr. 5th, 2018

Pablo Center Releases Update on $60 Million Budget

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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Wednesday, Apr. 4th, 2018

Prex Claires 2018 Lineup Unleashed

OX Prex Claires
OXBEAUX 2017 – part of last year's first-ever Prex Claires events.

Today (April 4) Blugold Radio released plans for 2018's 'Prex Claires' festivities, set for Thursday, July 5, revving things up for the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival on July 6-7. Last year saw the first installment of Prex Claires, inviting music lovers – both local and from out-of-town – into downtown Eau Claire. 

In tandem with Prex Claires, the OXBEAUX street party will return to the asphalt in front of The Oxbow Hotel on the same night. Watch for that lineup to be announced soon along with ticket sales. See photos from last year.

Check out the Prex Claires press release from Blugold Radio ...

Prexpare for an Amazing Evening

Local music will fill an array of venues across Eau Claire and even the streets during Prex Claires, the second annual celebration of the Chippewa Valley’s diverse music scene that kicks off Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival.

Blugold Radio is proud to announce the second annual celebration will be on Thursday, July 5, immediately preceding the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival July 6-7. This is made possible through a generous grant from Visit Eau Claire. The 2017 Prex Claires received local, regional and national attention from outlets like USA Today and Radio Milwaukee. Additionally, it won a Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. Award for "Best Event."

Expanding on the success of last years event, this year's Prex Claires will be a ticketed wristband event. Patrons will have access to each of these venues for one low fee.

Prex Claires 2018 Venues

The Metro- Local Independence Showcase featuring Roma di Luna, Wayward and P Pl

Beyond featuring some amazing new material from Roma di Luna, this showcase embodies the connection between Eau Claire and the Twin Cities.

Masonic Temple-  The Sue Orfield Show featuring Them Coulee Boys and Billy Krause at Masonic Temple.

An amazing night of Americana led by the hardest working musician in Eau Claire. As an added bonus this will be in the awe-inspiring Masonic temple. 

The Plus-  Sawdust City Limits featuring Drunk Drivers, Two Castles, Ronald Raygun and the Heartpills

A rock solid lineup of rockin' Eau Claire bands. This show will give you a great idea of some of the great music happening around these parts.

410 Cafe- Ultimate Open Mic

This freewheeling evening hosted by The Millenium's Matt Hasenmueller will be a fun spot of creativity and just might be a spot where you can see national musicians pickin' with some local folks.

Micon Downtown Cinemas- Clearwater Comedy Jam

Clear Water Comedy is bringing their A-game to Micon Downtown Cinemas. C'mon in and get your comedy fix.

Lismore Ballroom - Dance Party

Get down to some post midnight grooves. The ball room will be your home for some dance treats.

State Theatre - Vespers

We wanted to do something very special for this home for the arts. So, we're going to have a late night songfest. Details will come, but the joy is in the journey. We also don't like to give spoilers. :-)

Blugold Radio Station Manager Scott Morfitt said the lineup has something for everyone.

“This is a really great way to showcase the Chippewa Valley music scene,” Morfitt said, “for both in-towners and out-of-towners. This event is all about the Eau Claire music scene and the community.”

Parallel events to Prex Claires include the free Sounds Like Summer performance in Phoenix Park and the Oxbeaux Concert at the Oxbow Hotel. Additionally, there will be many daytime performances that Blugold Radio will highlight as they continue to be announced.

The initial 500 tickets will be available on Thursday, April 12th at 10am and will be $15. After the initial on sale ticket prices will raise to $20. Tickets will be sold online at Blugold

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Tuesday, Mar. 20th, 2018

Eau Claire Children’s Theatre Desperately Seeking 'Avenue Q' Actress

The Eau Claire Children’s Theatre will cancel their production of Avenue Q if they are unable to find an Asian adult female singer and actor to play the role of Christmas Eve by Wednesday (March 21). Christmas Eve is an affianced therapist with two master’s degrees from Japan.  She doesn’t have many clients, which doesn’t help her natural cynicism.

Rehearsals, tentatively held during evenings, are scheduled to begin March 19 at 7pm.  The production is currently set to run for six days: May 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, and 19.

Avenue Q is about Princeton, a recent college graduate with a degree in english, who moves out on his own into a new apartment with host of neighbors who, despite what they may have learned on Sesame Street as children, aren’t any more special than anyone else, and feel their options in life are limited. The play employs the use of puppets in a style similar to Sesame Street.

For more information, ECCT can be reached at 715-839-8877 or 715-271-3360. More info.

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