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Sequim City Band pitching indoor venue

A concert hall addition to the James Center for the Performing Arts could be ready for musicians by April 2010 if the city approves and a campaign to raise the last $2 million of the estimated $5 million cost is successful.

“We’re calling it our ‘overture’ because it’s our introduction of the project to the community,” said Patsy Mattingley, Sequim City Band president, on Thursday afternoon during one of many presentations to come on the project.

Supporters have decided to pursue just a music hall instead of a multi-purpose performing arts center because the latter requires more room for areas such as wings to the side of the main stage, storage space and changing rooms which increases the cost, she said.

The proposed concert hall would add 12,000 square feet to the James Center, including a 7,800-square-foot performance hall, 1,000-square-foot backstage area, 1,040 square feet of patron and performer restrooms and 900 square feet of expanded rehearsal space.

It would seat 530-550 people and have a stage capacity of 80 to 100 performers — enough for a 60-piece band or 80-piece orchestra — with lighting, sound and multimedia systems.

About 200 parking spaces would be available along the road to the James Center as well as in the adjacent field that would be left as grass in keeping with the park setting.

Mattingley said they want to break ground in April 2009 and finish by April 2010.

The concert hall would be built and then turned over to the city for operations and maintenance and if it’s operated properly, the venue could make money for the city, she said.

The Sequim City Council directed staff to form a memorandum of operations to outline what city responsibilities would be after the building is completed and a lease agreement for the Sequim City Band. Mattingley estimated that the city would incur $34,100 in operating costs for the first year, a price that could be cut down with solar panels or other power-saving building techniques.

The project’s price tag started at $3 million and now they are trying to keep it at $5 million, Mattingley said. The Bates Family Foundation in Sequim is matching their donations up to $1.5 million, she said. In addition to local fundraising, they are applying for two $1 million grants from the Paul Allen Foundation and the Building for the Arts program through the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, Mattingley said.

The estimated operating costs are $34,100 but rebates from Clallam County Public Utility District and alternative energy sources could reduce that amount by $21,200 for a net operating cost of $12,900, according to the group’s business plan.

Mattingley said supporters are in the “friend-raising” mode right now, ensuring as many as people as possible know about it, which will make the fundraising easier.

Supporters already have given two one-hour presentations at the James Center in addition to Monday’s presentation to the city council. Another presentation at the James Center is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 30.

The Sequim City Band, Olympic Peninsula Men’s Chorus, Stardust Big Band and Olympic Express Big Band use the current rehearsal hall weekly, Mattingley said. They also have a partner list of 12 music groups that support the project and will use it after completion, she said.

“Help us find other people who need to hear what is going on,” Mattingley told audience members.

The Sequim City Band leased park land during construction of the James Center, which was built in 2004 with $600,000 in private funding, then donated to the city to operate and maintain.

The Sequim City Band has a 25-year lease with the city to use the rehearsal hall and stage at no cost.

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