JOSEPH — The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture is launching the Key to Our Future capital campaign to purchase, renovate and expand the building located on 403 Main St. in Joseph. The campaign is focused on making the Josephy Center a permanent home for arts and culture in Wallowa County, as well as restoring and expanding the center to enhance visitor experience and fit the growing needs of the community.

Phase One of the campaign focuses on the building purchase, critical safety repairs and accessibility for all. Phase Two focuses on the renovation and expansion of the building.

The goal of the first phase is to raise $575,000 by the summer of 2021. Support from local patrons, combined with funding from the Ronald Naito Foundation, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Autzen Foundation and the Oregon Cultural Trust has made great progress toward the goal, but community support is needed to raise $50,000 more. Business sponsorships and resident participation in fundraisers are crucial to the success of this campaign.

To help incentivize community giving, the Murdock Foundation has offered to match all community donations up to $50,000. And upon purchase of the building, a longtime patron of the Josephy Center has generously promised $100,000 toward an endowment to help maintain the building for years to come.

Josephy Center Development Director Kellee Sheehy said, “The support we’ve seen already — especially during a year like 2020 — shows what we can do when we all pull together. The impact of this campaign on the economy, on community development and on the morale of Wallowa County will last for generations to come.”

Phase Two, the renovation and expansion phase of the campaign, will position the Josephy Center to better serve Wallowa County as a community gathering place by increasing functionality, accessibility and programming. The expansion may include features, such as a multi-purpose room for performing arts (like dance and theater) and an expanded ceramics studio, which will accommodate more students. Reconfiguration of the existing space will also increase access to regional and Nez Perce educational displays.

“We’re excited to involve the public and hear their ideas; we want to make sure that the expanded Center is a place where residents want to spend time,” says Sheehy.

While public fundraising for Phase Two won’t begin until 2022, the center is gathering financial support from other sources, such as the Cultural Resource Economic Fund, in preparation for this phase.

“It was important that we found funding from other sources and could embark on both phases of this campaign without financially burdening county residents,” said Executive Director Cheryl Coughlan in a press release.

Board President Jeff Costello is optimistic about the future of the Josephy Center. “Ten years ago, a permanent arts and culture center in Wallowa County that does what the Josephy Center does was inconceivable,” Costello said. “Not only is it now within reach, but it is shaping up to be more than most of us dreamed possible.”

To donate visit josephy.org or mail a check to P.O. Box 949, Joseph, OR 97846.

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