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Olympic Theatre Arts nears a fundraising grand finale

Olympic Theatre Arts opened its "curtains" this past week to reveal a new campaign, "$100,000 in 100 Days."

Beginning Thursday, the theater will begin its nearly four-month campaign to raise that sum by July 31 in order to match a loan from Bob and Elaine Caldwell of Sequim.

Two years ago, the Caldwells, long-term volunteers of the theater, loaned the organization $100,000 interest free for two years.

However, in February 2007, building codes forced the theater to shut down and focus monies on repairs. The group was not allowed to perform in the facility at 414 N. Sequim Ave. and has presented its productions in various community buildings around Sequim since then.

The Caldwells' loan enabled the building project to continue to a point where the bulk of major construction is now concluding.

"When this began, it was hard to believe a small-town theater project would go forward like this, but it's vision and passion that started it and will finish it," Elaine Caldwell said.

The Caldwells also announced they will forgive up to 100 percent of the loan on a matching dollar-for-dollar basis to finish the building.

Success of this matching opportunity would mean the theater will have $200,000 of the total goal in hand and could finish construction. Theater representatives hope a pending grant will be awarded to finish out the remaining funds.

"Every once in awhile, a person finds themselves in a position where they can make something important happen," Bob Caldwell said.

"Because of a bequest from Elaine's deceased brother, Norman V. Plyter, we found ourselves in that position.

"A Port Townsend woman did this for Friends of the Fields about 10 years ago and enabled us to protect a 30-acre parcel of farmland when the organization had only about $1,000 in the bank.

"We felt like we could do no less for a facility that will do so much for Sequim."

In an effort to keep donors inspired and donating during tough economic times, the theater's formerly anonymous lead donor, Sequim Gazette owner Brown Maloney, announced his donation of $200,000 to the theater's initial capital campaign from 2003-2005.

"A local person having an interest in it brings new energy," Maloney said.

"I'm putting my name out to let people know that more people are behind it."

The theater needs approximately $350,000 to complete construction and to satisfy loans against the facility.

"My goal is to see the community watching plays in the completed Olympic Theatre Arts Center building by the end of the year," Maloney said.

"They deserve to see this thing finished."

The Olympic Theatre Arts Center is located at 414 N.

Sequim Ave., Sequim.

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