On Stage

Home Stretch

Kickstarting the Sylvia Center

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Like so many in the Bellingham community, the loss of musician Lucas Hicks last fall hit Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao hard.

It’s one reason he moved to have the largest theater space in the growing Sylvia Center for the Arts named after the man who was an inspiration to pretty much everyone he ever met. (Not incidentally, Hicks was also a Sylvia Center board member.)

If the Kickstarter campaign taking place through April 5 is successful, the space will be a reality as early as May, when the 160-seat Lucas Hicks Theater will hopefully reach completion, and the main floor of the burgeoning creative space—which will also include the now-functioning Sylvia Center Studio Theater, the Prospect Street Gallery, the Long Hall Gallery, and a green room—will be open after nearly two years of fundraising, sweat equity, grant-writing, countless meetings and the help of an army of volunteers.  

As the founder of iDiOM Theater and the executive director of the Sylvia Center, Hergenhahn-Zhao knows a lot is riding on whether patrons of the arts will step up to the plate and donate to the cause. The fact that the first two days of the Kickstarter campaign saw supporters kicking in more than $10,000 of the $65,000 goal gives him hope that the end of this phase of fundraising is in sight.

“We saved the Kickstarter campaign to the home stretch to our opening, because we wanted the community donors to be the people who push us over the finish line,” Hergenhan-Zhao says. “This has been a marathon of public support for more than a year, and it feels like this campaign opened the floodgates to all the community members who have been hearing about our project and coming to our studio events.

“I’ve talked before about being continually amazed by the support of our patrons for the work that we do. With the Sylvia project we are bringing supporters of jazz, dance, kids theater, visual arts, Shakespeare, chamber music, opera, poetry and youth education into the mix. That feels incredible and exactly right for our arts center.”

If you’re short on scratch, there’s a $1 donation option to get your name on the list of supporters, and volunteers are still needed to paint, clean, build and be available for day-to-day operations. If all goes according to plan, the Cascade Laundry Building will be the setting for the next iteration of the perrenially popular 48 Hour Theater Festival in mid-May.

Those who pledge $20 or more to the Kickstarter campaign can choose to get seats for the show—the first in the Lucas Hicks Theater. There, Hicks’ creative spirit will remain, meaning he will never be forgotten.

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