Confluence fundraising effort begins

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- A new campaign hopes to raise money for the Confluence Project and it can all be done in the palm of your hand. But this latest push isn't without controversy.

Piles of bricks are on the Confluence Project site in Eau Claire making way for the new arts building.

It's an exciting sight for Dennis Olson and his wife Connie.

“One of the reasons we live in Eau Claire is because of the arts scene so we're very excited,” Dennis Olson said.

Despite progress on the site of the proposed project, a lot of money needs to be raised.

“The Board of Regents meets in early August. They are the group that takes it to the capital budget for the next biennium so we want to show them a strong showing of community support on this,” Eau Claire Regional Arts Director Ben Richgruber said.

Richgruber says there are a lot of moving pieces involved in the funding process. In addition to money from the state, the tax payers, and the UW System Board of Regents a 15-million dollar philanthropy goal needs to be met too.

That’s why an effort launched at the start of this week to collect 6,000 donations in 60 days.

“If we can get 6,000 gifts by the end of September we will get $100-thousand as a reward,” Richgruber explained.

Richgruber says small donations are being collected by the group Community for the Confluence online, in person and also by using your cellphone.

“What happens is you text the word ECARTS to 501501 and 10 dollars gets put on your next cellphone bill and that money gets put toward the Confluence Project,” he said.

While fundraising efforts continue, Voters with Facts, a group that's questioned the viability of the Confluence Project says it’s not sure all the funding requirements will be met for the project.

In a statement sent to WEAU 13 News the group says, “It’s important for people to know the magnitude of their pledge goal. Simply "pledging' is inadequate, donors must commit to providing real money, not just verbal commitments.”

The UW- System Board of Regents still needs to vote on whether or not it will provide $25-million for the performing arts portion of the project. That decision will be made at its August meeting.

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