Community Cultural Center receives Gates Foundation grant

The Tonasket Community Cultural Center’s front, as seen from Western Avenue. The center recently received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

The Tonasket Community Cultural Center’s front, as seen from Western Avenue. The center recently received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

The building on Western Avenue in Tonasket has been many things since the 1930s.

It was once a mechanic shop. Then a Studebaker dealership. A temporary music and band room for Tonasket High School. It was the Valley Tire Store in the 1980s.

But soon, the building on Western will be renovated to suit exactly what it’s been since 1992: The Community Cultural Center.

On Dec. 5, the project learned they received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant, said River Jones, the executive director of the center.

The $100,000 grant will be distributed in three installments, she said. First, $25,000 in the near future, then they must raise $350,000 before receiving another installment of $50,000.

“The grant is going to help us to complete the building,” said Board President Carol Lanigan.

She said the current installment will go to improving heat and air conditioning in the building, “which means we can use more then one room at a time.”

The grant will also help them to secure future grants, she said. Foundations want to know a potential recipient of money is a wise choice, Lanigan said. If they know an organization has already secured funding from a source, they’re more likely to give additionally.

The Community Cultural Center was established to provide an artistic venue, whether the art was theater, culinary or hand-crafted. The CCC needs additional funding to continue that endeavor, Jones said.

Over the years, the organization has evolved into a common place for people to gather, she said. “People in this area are so spread out and we wanted to make a central place,” she said.

“We saw what was needed in this area and it was an arts venue, a community center, a place to bring people together,” said Jones.

“The community center is here to serve the north Okanogan,” Jones said. “That’s, in a sentence, entirely what we do.”

Plans for 2008 include children’s dance classes, adult art classes, teen karaoke, cooking and increased performances, said Lanigan.

Soon, the center will be starting a community pledge drive, said Jones. The organization is a 501C3 nonprofit and all donations are tax-refundable, she said.

The plans for the building include removing ceiling insulation in the back room, to expose a “beautiful domed ceiling,” renovating the stage and creating a sound and lighting booth, according to a press release.

Though the grant is greatly significant, the center still needs more to finish the $500,000 project.

They have applied for other grants, including the Community Foundation of North-Central Washington and several private charitable trusts.

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