As KPTZ, Jefferson County’s community radio station, readies itself to begin broadcasting in its new studios in Building 305, exciting plans are afoot at Fort Worden. A group of arts and cultural organizations based in the state park have united into what they have named the Creative Alliance. KPTZ is one of eight tenants banding together so that they can strategize, fundraise, and grow as one.
Habitués of Fort Worden State Park will be familiar with the well-loved players in the Creative Alliance: Centrum, Northwind Art, The Port Townsend School of Woodworking, Copper Canyon Press, Corvidae Press, Rainshadow Recording, Madrona MindBody Institute and KPTZ, the anchor tenant of Maker’s Square.
Rob Birman, Executive Director of Centrum, explains that the idea for this collaborative effort stemmed from the question: “Could we all band together and make a stronger future for this park?”
“If we could work together . . . the collective impact of our reach and our philanthropy . . . could bring a different level of investment to this campus for the future, which would benefit the community while benefiting the individual partner organizations.”
Having this mission at its core, the Creative Alliance has already been effective in securing long term leases at the Fort. With Centrum as spearhead, the Alliance will be able to take some of the burden off of the Public Development Authority (PDA) by reinvesting in the facilities they occupy in the long term, an investment that is in the range of $15 to $20 million over the next 10 to 20 years.
In effect, the Creative Alliance is trading the concept of rent to renovate and maintain these facilities—facilities that are assets of the State. With this model everyone benefits. The buildings the Creative Alliance will (and, in the case of some partners, already do) occupy are what have been dubbed the “arts and culture corridor:” a swath of buildings starting at the Powerhouse Building at the base of the lower campus hillside and stretching all the way down around Building 304, the home of the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. In the center of this creative corridor lie Makers Square and Building 305, home to KPTZ and, imminently, to Centrum.
In addition to holding their offices there, the two organizations — along with Northwind Art, housed in adjacent Building 306 and expanding to occupy the two additional Makers Square building renovations — look forward to using the ample open space on Building 305’s main floor for multidisciplinary art exhibitions, studios, gatherings and events. Plans include everything from curated shows and artist talks to lectures and concerts — all with the capability of being broadcast live on the KPTZ airwaves.
“It’s certainly auspicious that as the Creative Alliance takes off, KPTZ is also moving into the Fort,” says Kate Ingram, KPTZ General Manager. But, as is the case for most of the buildings in the creative corridor, additional work has to happen before operations begin there. While KPTZ fundraised to achieve the privilege of moving into a newly-renovated space, the station must first complete the buildout of its studios and offices with functional furnishings and equipment, starting with the wiring required to broadcast—all being accomplished entirely with volunteer labor. Even so, the station plans to be broadcasting from the new facility during summer of this year.
In fact, while the renovations required for many of these buildings will not be completed for years, all the members of the Creative Alliance are fully operational, offering vibrant arts and culture programming. Ingram sees KPTZ’s role within that programming as being especially exciting. “We can get the word out about what’s going on here and help bring people to the Fort,” she says.
As the Creative Alliance continues to grow together there will be plenty of opportunity for just that. With expansion, it will become accessible not only to the local community, but also to guests and visitors from around the world. As Teresa Verraes, Executive Director of Northwind Art, says, “[the Creative Alliance] is going deep with roots here, but then branching out and pollinating. We can grow things both ways.”
“We’re all ready to work for the common good,” adds Heron Scott, Executive Director of the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. “We believe the opportunity to leverage the collective scale and impact of our reach, influence, and public and private support will open new avenues for long-term capital investment in the campus and newfound philanthropy. We trust the PDA, State Parks, and our entire community will see the long-lasting benefits in allowing us to share in sustaining Fort Worden for the public’s use. By working in true partnership, everyone wins.”