The Confluence: It's still up to you.

If you want to see it happen, now is the time to give to the Confluence Project.

V1 Staff

The people of our community went to the polls in April and overwhelmingly gave their thumbs up to the Confluence Project, removing roadblocks and pushing toward the goal of an economically and culturally transformed downtown Eau Claire. And while the referendum results were cause for celebration, they don’t mean we’re at the end of the road – not by a long shot.

More individuals and businesses, large and small, must step forward and donate toward the performing arts center portion of the project. And policymakers in Madison must listen to the unified voices of donors and voters and make the political decisions necessary to bring the project to completion. Here’s a breakdown on how – with your help – the Confluence can come together.

$5 million $8 million $13 million


From the beginning, the success or failure of the Confluence Project has hinged on the willingness of individuals and businesses to give generously. The estimated $50 million cost of the Confluence Project’s performing arts center will be divided evenly between the university and the community. The community’s $25 million share will come from a variety of sources, including $3.5 million from Eau Claire County, $5 million in tax incremental financing through the city (which will be paid back by new taxes generated by the adjacent privately built commercial/residential facility), and $3 million through the federal New Market Tax Credit program. The final $13 million will come through donations from individuals and businesses.


Of the $13 million in donations being sough, roughly $5 million had been pledged as of July 1. Kimera Way, executive director of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, hopes to have $8 million in pledges in hand by Aug. 1, just before the UW System Board of Regents is scheduled to consider its share of the cost. The goal is to have the majority of pledges lined up by November, with payments beginning late this year and extending to 2018 (once other funding sources are confirmed).

Major community leaders


$1 million
Naming rights to the 450 seat theater


Naming rights to the black box theater





ASK your employer to donate too!

The project already has drawn $2.3 million in large donations from local businesses and individuals, many of whom have secured naming rights to parts of the facility (see a few to the left). Other donations are pending, including a seven-figure proposal and several mid-six-figure gifts. Naming rights for the entire building are available for $5 million, while $2.5 million will put your name on the 1,200-seat theater.

To see a complete list of naming opportunities, go to CommunityfortheConfluence.org/donate/ and click on “Confluence Naming Opportunities.”

50 with Fifty

Part of the fundraising effort has involved seeking $50,000 pledges from 50 businesspeople, arts supporters, and others, with the goal of raising $2.5 million. Pledges will be paid over a five-year period once state, city, and county funding is secured. Donors will be recognized in a permanent plaque in a prominent part of the arts center. Thus far, there are 30 commitments with another 10 pending. And room for more.

The 40

The 40 Campaign is seeking 40 young professionals willing to donate $10,000 each, pledged over a five-year period. “Many communities have been successful because a core group of engaged leaders have been willing to lead and put their money behind their actions,” says Way. “These communities that have enjoyed the benefits of these ‘senior’ philanthropists are asking themselves ‘Where are our next generations of philanthropists?’ ” (Potential donors who don’t think they can commit the full $10,000 are encouraged to partner with others to reach the total pledge.)

The political road ahead:

On April 1, voters in the city of Eau Claire rejected a referendum what would have put restrictions on arts-related ventures such as the Confluence Project, while Eau Claire County voters approved a $3.5 million public investment in the project. These outcomes – more than 11,500 voters in the county and more than 8,000 voters in the city cast pro-Confluence ballots – has given momentum to UW-Eau Claire’s efforts to get $25 million in funding for the project’s performing arts center into the state budget. However, more steps are needed:


The UW System Board of Regents is expected to consider a $25 million funding request from UWEC in August. In 2012, the board unanimously endorsed the project provided a list of conditions is met. The request will first go on Aug. 21 to the regents’ Capital Planning and Budget Committee, which is chaired by Regent Edmund Manydeeds of Eau Claire, a Confluence supporter. It will be taken up by the full board on Aug. 22.


If the Regents approve the funding request, it will go next to the state Department of Administration to be considered for inclusion in the governor’s 2015-17 capital budget. Because both incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, and his likely Democratic opponent this fall, Mary Burke, have said they support the Confluence Project, it seems certain that the funding will be part of the executive budget when it is unveiled next January or February.


In March, the state building commission will take up the UW System’s funding request. The commission, which is made up of top lawmakers and other state officials, will then make recommendations to the Joint Finance Committee.


The JFC, the state Legislature’s budget-writing committee, is made up of Assembly and Senate members of both parties. Beginning in April, the JFC will consider and act on recommendations from the building commission, which may (or may not) be considered as amendments to the governor’s budget bill.


Both houses of the state Legislature must approve the same version of the state budget before it can be sent to the governor. Depending on partisan control of the houses, this can be a protracted process, but by law it’s supposed to be done by June 30, 2015.


Once the budget is passed and lands on the governor’s desk, he (or she) can make vetoes and sign the bill. The budget then goes into effect on July 1, 2015, and sets state spending for the following two years. Because both Walker and Burke have come out in support of the project, it’s likely they would advocate for it throughout the budget process and sign it into law.


In highly supportive remarks to an Eau Claire audience in late June, Walker raised the possibility of funding the Confluence not via the UW System but through what is called a “non-state grant.” Such grants typically are used for projects that benefit the public but that are outside of state agencies. (For example, in the 2011-13 budget the state provided up to $23 million for construction at the Marquette University dental school.) If UWEC seeks the $25 million as a non-state grant, the request won’t go through the Board of Regents, but will still require all the other steps outlined above. At the moment, UWEC is considering which route to take, says Mike Rindo, the university’s assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations.


Donations toward the performing arts center are fully tax deductible, and can be made to either the UWEC Foundation or the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center. These entities will provide tax receipts as well as annual reminders to donors who split their pledges into annual segments. There are many ways to help your community thrive, so pick a donation option below:


Two online resourcces have information and accept donations:


You can also download and fill out a conditional pledge form at:


Just text the word:




to make a one-time $10 pledge, which will show up on your phone bill. You can do this up to three times for a total gift of $30.


Potential donors may contact:

Ben Richgruber
EC Regional Arts Center
(715) 832-2787

Kimera Way
UW-Eau Claire Foundation
(715) 836-5180


Thursday, July 24 
Sounds Like Summer Concert Series in
 Phoenix Park at 6pm

Feel the energy and be part of this community movement! Learn the latest and donate in-person or via text.

Featuring: Michael Perry & the Long Beds + We Are the Willows + The Larry Past Trio