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The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph has launched a fundraising campaign to purchase, expand and improve its current building.

JOSEPH — The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture publicly launched the “Key to Our Future” capital campaign Wednesday, Jan. 13, to purchase, renovate and expand the building located on 403 Main St. in Joseph, according to a press release.

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.

The campaign is set up in phases: Phase 1 focuses on the building purchase, which the center does not now own. It also includes critical safety repairs and accessibility for all. Phase 2 focuses on the renovation and expansion of the building.

“We don’t exactly know what’s that going to look like,” Development Director Kellee Sheehy said of potential expansion.

The goal of the first phase is to raise $575,000 by this summer. Thanks to the tremendous 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, this campaign has made great progress toward reaching that goal — but community support is needed to raise another $50,000. 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 (i.e., a $200 donation would become $400 dollars) up to $50,000. Upon purchase of the building, a long-time patron of the Josephy Center has generously promised $100,000 toward an endowment to help maintain the building for years to come.

“The support we’ve seen already — especially during a year like 2020 — shows what we can do when we all pull together,” Sheehy said. “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 2, 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 multipurpose 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.

Sheehy said the center also wants public input on what they’d like to see in the revamped center.

“We have a long wish list of what we’d like to do,” she said. “We just have to see what the public wants and what’s within our budget. 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.”

While public fundraising for Phase 2 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.

The center is largely counting on Oregon Lottery funds, which have been delayed for more than 30 projects because lottery sales were insufficient to fund the bonds they pay for. The Legislature will soon take up the matter.

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

Board President Jeff Costello also is optimistic about the future of the center.

“Ten years ago, a permanent arts and culture center in Wallowa County that does what the Josephy Center does, was inconceivable,” he 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 or mail a check to P.O. Box 949, Joseph, OR 97846.

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