Mayo Clinic Health System awards $250,000 grant for Confluence Arts Center

Courtesy: UW-Eau Claire
Courtesy: UW-Eau Claire(WEAU)
Published: Sep. 12, 2016 at 12:05 PM CDT
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"We're close to $15 million by now," Eau Claire Confluence, Inc. Chair Jerry Jacobson said to WEAU 13 News on Monday.

That’s $15 million puts the fundraising for the future Confluence Arts Center in downtown Eau Claire roughly $3 million shy of its ultimate philanthropy goal – this, after Mayo Clinic Health System announced a $250,000 donation for the project Monday morning.

"The arts have a big impact on all of us,” Randall Linton, M.D., president & CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System of northwest Wisconsin, said to WEAU 13 News on Monday. “It has an impact on our ability to heal and the arts have a tremendous impact on our entire lives. That's why we're really excited and honored to be able to make this donation."

Groundbreaking on the Confluence Arts Center is set for next month, with an opening planned for late-2018. The immediate timeline is also enhanced with Confluence officials meeting with the Eau Claire City Council on Wednesday to discuss construction bids for the project.

"Is there nervousness? Sure,” Jacobson said. “But, the generosity of everybody in the Chippewa Valley has been so great tnat we know they're going to step up and come through in the next few weeks."

While the amount of the donation made my Mayo on Monday was large, officials tied to the Confluence Arts Center said every donation made will help.

"Whatever dollar amount that we receive, if we spend it all on the capital and we still have money left over, it's money to give for the operations so that they can open the building with confidence so that they have a good budget foundation in place,” Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation , said to WEAU 13 News on Monday. “So, not a dollar is going to go to waste."

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (EAU CLAIRE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION NEWS RELEASE) -- Mayo Clinic Health System of northwest Wisconsin has awarded the Eau Claire Community Foundation a $250,000 grant for the Confluence Arts Center in downtown Eau Claire.

“The Confluence Arts Center highlights the value placed on the arts in the Chippewa Valley,” said Randall Linton, M.D., president & CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System of northwest Wisconsin. “Mayo Clinic Health System is proud to play a role in making this performing arts center a reality. It will be a destination landmark for years to come and will also help attract and retain highly skilled healthcare workers in the Eau Claire area. We look at this as an investment in both our community and our employees.”

The Mayo Clinic Health System grant will be paid over five years and will be matched by a $1.5 million challenge gift offered by a group of anonymous donors. The “Breaking New Ground” campaign is a community-wide effort to build the Arts Center. Funding has included $15 million from the state of Wisconsin, $5 million from the City of Eau Claire and $3.5 million from Eau Claire County. More than $14 million in philanthropy has already been committed to the $45 million dollar project, according to Sue Bornick, Executive Director of the Eau Claire Community Foundation (ECCF).

Presenting the grant award was Dr. Linton from Mayo Clinic Health System. The award was accepted by ECCF Board of Trustees Vice Chair Laura Talley, ECCF Board of Trustees Secretary Laurie Klinkhammer, and Eau Claire Confluence, Inc. Chair Jerry Jacobson. Members of the Confluence Fundraising Committee were also present.

The Confluence Project, located at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers, is a collaborative effort to continue the revitalization of downtown Eau Claire.

The 130,000 square foot Arts Center will include a 1,200 seat large theater and a 400 seat flexible theater, along with rehearsal rooms, offices, and classrooms for UW-Eau Claire. The project is expected to break ground in late fall if the philanthropic goal of nearly $16 million is reached and to be completed in late 2018.

The challenge campaign ends September 30.