Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

Convention center unveils ‘5 For the Future’ campaign

By Vicki Tillis, Ledger lifestyles editor | Feb 28, 2018

The Fairfield Arts & Convention Center has launched a new five-year capital campaign called 5 For the Future to secure the future of the center so that it can continue enriching the community.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million over five years, with the money to be divided equally — half to the center’s capital improvements and operations and the other half to its endowment fund — to get the center to the point where it will be sustainable enough to not have to rely on so many individual donations, explained Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, one of the co-chairs of the campaign.

Mark Cohen, a past chairman of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center Board and now a campaign committee member, pointed out the campaign actually got started at the end of last year and has already had more than $1.7 million pledged.

“Only $3.7 million to go to reach our goal,” he said, explaining people are asked to make a pledge to donate a set amount of money this year and in each of the following four years.

“Former Fairfield resident Nan Kourcerek and her husband Wayne’s $350,000 donation really kicked us off,” said Rustin Lippincott, executive director of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.

According to Cohen, the center’s board of directors, staff and campaign committee members have spent the last year gaining support for the campaign by presenting it to many of the center’s original donors, as well as the business community, and they are now eager to introduce it across southeast Iowa.

Any donor who would like to make a five-year pledge can visit the center’s website at www.FairfieldACC.com/campaign. Pledges also can be made with Lippincott, who also can answer any questions, by calling 472-2000.

Malloy pointed out the center celebrated its 10th anniversary last year; its doors opened in October 2007 and since then it has welcomed more than 500,000 people at performances on the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts stage and special events throughout the facility.

“The arts and convention center has become the symbol of Fairfield’s successes as a creative and entrepreneurial community and economic driver inspiring tourism and attracting and retaining residents, all benefiting the economic vitality for the city of Fairfield and Jefferson County,” said Malloy.

Malloy recalled how more than 1,000 Fairfield families and businesses initially pledged support to build the facility, and how Fairfield received one of the first Community Attraction and Tourism grants from the state of Iowa to help get the center going.

“We have one of the best investments the state has ever made,” he said.

During the past 10 years, the center’s operations have been supported by ticket sales, facility rentals, corporate sponsors and ongoing donors.

“Like other performing arts centers around the country, ours is not-for-profit, so the revenue funding model always included donor contributions to make the center work, and now we are revisiting that model to sustain our future,” said Malloy.

“There are so many great not-for-profits in town — we don’t want to take from them, but we want to make the center a more sustainable, self-supporting not-for-profit so we don’t have to go out to the community,” said Cohen.

Malloy said the bonds the city took on to complete the building will be paid in 18 months, and the center is on “pretty solid footing.”

However, Lippincott pointed out, the facility is 10 years old, and critical areas, such as technology, will need attention to keep the center running smoothly.

Improvements to the facility help bring in more events, said Lippincott. For example, “more weddings are on the books than in the last three years here since the exhibit hall has been carpeted. … It’s a competitive market … we want to be the best option.”


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