Autumn Letter from the Director

As the days grow shorter and the nights turn chill, we reflect—this year more than most—on change. In the political arena it is the central tenet of conversation. In financial markets it is a worrisome trend. At Centrum it remains our core commitment.

On September 25, the Washington State Parks Commission will likely vote to adopt a site and facilities use plan, design guidelines, and management recommendations that could lead to locally based nonprofit coordination of the emerging center for life long learning at Fort Worden. This is a major milestone in a five-year-long process.

What we have all been working for at Fort Worden is a transformation that will affect every partner and provide extraordinary new opportunities for every visitor who comes through the gates. At Centrum we understand this means we must work harder than ever to care for existing and new constituents, and to develop, support, and promote an increasing array of great learning opportunities at the Park.

We have four strategic values—cultural competence, artistic relevance, partnership, and financial vitality—and we must engage each one of these with more rigor and resource than ever before. We have an enormous responsibility to you and every individual who supports Centrum to ensure that you remain excited by your investment in transformational learning at Fort Worden.

The theme of Centrum’s 2008 Gala is “A Sense of Place.” The evening is a celebration of Fort Worden as a beloved gathering place and a salute to the great generosity of you and other donors who have supported Centrum’s 36-year mission as a center for learning. The Gala—sponsored by our friends at Kitsap Bank—will be held on November 15 at the Fort Worden Commons.

The Gala dining experience—focusing on the particular delights of regional cuisine and wine—is designed by Fort Worden’s executive chef Jay Payne, owner of Port Townsend’s Wild Coho Restaurant. He has planed a seasonal feast to spotlight locally produced and grown items that are prepared and presented in the best manner of great culinary traditions.

Three guest chefs will prepare hors d’oeuvres during the Gala’s opening reception. You can watch appetizers being created by Seattle-based chefs, Craig Hetherington of TASTE, Tamara Murphy of Brasa, and Adam Stevenson of Earth and Ocean. Venue decorations and table settings—contributed by Petals Flowers and Prud’homme Interiors¬—will complement the specialty cuisine. Denise Blanchard of Petals and Anthony Prud’homme, are taking their design inspiration from artist Morris Graves, the wild and wooly November weather, the Hoh Rain Forest, and the Arts and Crafts architecture of the Commons. Music will be provided by the George Radebaugh Trio.

That night you will have the opportunity to make a gift in support of Centrum’s thriving scholarship program. You will also have a chance to purchase a wide array of fixed-price specialty trips, adventures and experiences as we launch the new “Gatherings” catalog. Tickets for this don’t-miss event are $125 per person or $1,000 for a table of eight. (As of this writing only eight tables remain.) Especially enthusiastic donors and business supporters are purchasing $2,000 Premier Patron tables (including special wine, table placement, and program mention).

Last year, 44 donors at the Centrum Gala provided $21,000 to seed the new Russell Jaqua Fund for Artistic Innovation. Russell was one of the first and most extraordinary artists-in-residence in Centrum’s history, and this fund is being used to support artists-in-residence at Centrum “who generate new work, new ideas, and new conversations that significantly impact their field and/or their communities.” Artists receive up to one month of free housing and studio space as well as a $500 living stipend. Recipients are identified by professional peer panels organized by our partner Artist Trust, Washington’s foundation for individual artists. Jaqua Fellows and their projects include:

Tiffany Li-Chin Lin: Two new compositions featuring toy piano in preparation for a fall 2008 concert.

Dionne Bonner: Paintings in a series entitled African American Pioneers of the Pacific Northwest, featured as part of an installation at the Northwest Museum of African American Art.

Karen Rudd: Creation of life-size cedar tree stumps created from reclaimed cardboard and wood glue. Rudd’s initial aim to return the man-made material to its original organic form has expanded to include the creation of “a haunting landscape-like indoor installation.”

Kevin Bernstein: New body of paintings and drawings on pieces of birch plywood exploring nature as a primal source in a complex and ever-changing world in need of preservation and restraint.

Robert Campbell: Combining sculpture, glasswork, photography, and multi-channel video to explore environmental degradation and its effects on humans, specifically targeting estrogen mimickers and other hormone disruptors found in everyday products.

Debra Carlson: Writing a novel, "Shakuhachi". Named after bamboo flutes, which were first played by Zen Buddhist monks in the seventh century, Shakuhachi follows the story of an eight-year-old boy whose world is tossed upside down in 1940s Japan.

Miho Takekawa: Revisiting traditional percussive Japanese folk music of her childhood in non-traditional forms.

Britta Johnson: Creating animation shorts, videos, and installations that use the language of nature photography to explore science and technology themes.

 Former literary artistic director Rebecca Brown and Ukrainian poet Ilya Kaminsky will lead a three-day intensive workshop for a small group of dedicated writers working on existing and new manuscripts. A public reading, at the Joseph F. Wheeler Theater is scheduled for Saturday, October 11 at 7:30 PM

 Centrum partner, Seattle Theatre Group (STG) will present Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys October 18, at 7:30 Moore Theater in Seattle, a must see concert for Centrum Fiddle Tunes fans ( Next August STG and Centrum will produce DANCE This Camp @ Centrum, a residential version STG’s successful DANCE This program, providing young performers the chance to learn diverse dance styles from around the world.

 Our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner will be held Thursday, December 4. Everything that happens at Centrum is made possible by the support for over 300 active volunteers who do everything from database design, to accommodations remodeling, to ticket taking, to distributing posters. The Centrum staff spends the day before together in a huge kitchen preparing the feast for what is probably our favorite event of the year. Look for invitations in the mail.

In 2007 we ended up on December 31 with about a $95,000 operating surplus. This year our two major revenue sources—program fees and contributions—are running ahead of last year but are falling shy of budget projections. Cash flow will be a little tighter than it has been for the last four years. (As we have booked two large three-year grant commitments in 2008, the profit and loss statement for the year, however, will show a healthy surplus.)

We have held expenses in check and are making some last-quarter adjustments that will result in additional savings. For example, we are suspending publication of Experience Magazine. This publication served the Centrum community well, offering a rich look into the lives and work of the many artists and students who come here to learn, teach, perform, and create. We remain committed to telling the stories of Centrum artists and are looking to a robust, socially-networked web presence as the most relevant venue for such an undertaking.

Although we may not meet our ambitious fundraising goal for 2008 many donors are being extraordinarily generous, even in the face of economic uncertainty. I am deeply appreciative that so many of you continue to feel secure in and excited about your investment in Centrum. This deep engagement by you and so many others has made working here one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

In gratitude,


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