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Governor’s budget includes $1.115 million for VAA’s theater project

Vashon Allied Arts has moved one step closer to its goal of building a new arts facility on the Island.

Gov. Christine Gregoire last week released her capital budget, which includes a line item for Vashon Allied Arts to receive $1.115 million to help pay for a multimillion-dollar new facility housing a theater, exhibition space, offices and classrooms.

The funding is part of a

$11.6 million package call-

ed Building for the Arts,

a state community devel-

opment program that has

recommended funding for 22 arts organizations statewide to improve or build new facilities. VAA is one of the 22 organizations in this year’s program.

The new facility will sit on the corner of Vashon Highway and Cemetery Road, on two parcels of land located just north of the Blue Heron Arts Center. VAA now owns both parcels, having purchased the McFeeds property in May for $600,000 with support from a private donor.

Building for the Arts funding must be approved by the Legislature, expected to vote on a new state budget in mid-April.

Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) said representatives from VAA have asked legislators from the 34th District to shepherd the funding through the budgetary process. She said she supports the project.

“You’re taking a look at $1.115 million coming to the Island in capital funding,” she said. “It will then be up to VAA to work on the rest of their capital campaign.”

When asked if she thought the community would support building a new theater, Nelson said, “I know it’s been debated over and over in the community. But this is very much a community of performers and artists, and VAA is really interested in making this a positive asset for the community.”

Molly Reed, VAA’s executive director, said in a November interview that she wasn’t ready to announce a final price tag for the building project, but that her application for Building for the Arts estimated $11 million in costs for the project — an amount she said was “too high.”

She said she will raise the rest of the money for the project from grants, corporations, foundations and private donors. VAA, she said, has already raised slightly more than $1 million from individuals to pay for costs associated with the project.

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