Fundraising for Confluence Project gains momentum

An anonymous donor promised a $1 million donation if the community raises $500,000 by the year’s end

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Photo by John Mattison

With opportunity for business growth, enhancing the aesthetics of downtown Eau Claire and expanding the music program, the Confluence Project will have many effects on Eau Claire once construction is complete.

A project benefiting both the community and university doesn’t happen overnight. Some big projects take sufficient funds and cooperation between parties.

Thomas Barland, co-chair for the fundraising committee, said the project has generated millions of dollars within its fundraising realm.

“What is so unique about Confluence is the fact that it is a public, private effort,” Barland said.

This public and private effort includes state, local, university and public government coming together in order to construct and fund the project.

Due to the amount of expences, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation has a fundraising goal of $13.5 million, with a $15 million state grant to match.

These funds will go toward constructing a fine arts center accessible to the public and university students, a private building used by businesses and parking space.

Barland said his fundraising committees and solicitation groups have sponsored numerous social gatherings as a tool to inform citizens about the Confluence Project and to answer questions.

During one of the fundraisers held on Oct. 16 at Chippewa vallery regional Airport by Gordy’s Market. they raised $50,000 total for the Confluence Project.

“The art center will gather people from all across the region,” Barland said. “There is nothing like this anywhere else in Wisconsin.”

Adding to the fundraising efforts is the anonymous donation that has made the project famous.

An anonymous donor has stated they will donate $1 million to the Confluence Project if $500,000 is raised by Dec. 31. There is no information on whether the donor is an individual, family or a business.

Bartingale Mechanical, Inc., a mechanical company in Eau Claire, has committed $10,000 after becoming aware of the anonymous donor’s challenge. After Bartingale’s commitment, there has been $10.5 million raised toward the campaign goal of $13.5 million.

In regard to the donor’s challenge, Barland said there has been $150,000 donated towards the $500,000.

While this $1 million will help, the fundraising committee is doing everything in its power to raise money for the project, Barland said.

There are different categories of donors which include: Century Club, Mid-Century Club and Business Solicitations.

According to Barland, the Century Club consists of donors who have given $100,000 or more; Mid-Century Club contains donors who have given $50,000; and Business Solicitations are donors who have given $40,000 to $100,000.

“It is an active educational effort in which Eau Claire County has come together for a good cause,” Barland said. “There is nothing like it.”

Groundbreaking for the arts center is scheduled for late spring  2016.