Orcas Center to replace theatre’s 200+ chairs | Donations sought

With its doors closed to the public, Orcas Center staff and volunteers have been quietly refurbishing, repainting, recycling and refreshing.

“It’s been a blessing in disguise. We have done things we would never have been able to do if we were in full operation,” said Orcas Center Executive Director Dimitri Stankevich. “We have been into every nook and cranny of the building.”

The facility’s facelift will also include more than 200 new theatre chairs, a project that originally started in 2018.

The project will run $120,000. To date, half of the chairs have been purchased for a total of $55,000. Donors can buy a chair for $500, which includes a placard with the engraved name of your choice. (Buying a chair does not guarantee seating placement when going to a show. If you want to sit in a specific seat, let the box office know in advance.) To contribute to the chair project, visit www.orcascenter.org.

The project is moving forward thanks to a $130,000 Building for Arts grant, which is specifically for renovations to the building. The center is still hoping to sell the second half of the chairs over the next few months. Any donations for seats will allow the center to use the BFA funds for other capital projects.

Irwin Seating Company out of Grand Rapids, Michigan is handling the project. Membership Director Nicole Matisse says the chairs will be comfortable and long-lasting. Currently, the theatre seats 213 patrons. The new chairs will bring that total to 215.

Over the summer, the main theatre’s walls will receive a fresh coat of paint and new carpet will be installed. The old seats are slated for removal the first week of September. The undertaking will be completed within a week. Thanks to the community fully funding the Orcas Island Community Foundation’s Give Orcas grants in mid-May, the theatre will also be installing brand-new curtains.

Orcas Center closed to the public in March 2020 but has been offering a variety of live-streaming concerts online.

“Very generous donors at the beginning of the pandemic bought high-end professional live-streaming equipment for us,” Stankevich said. “Once we reopen, we will continue to use it. There is a whole new level of access for being involved at Orcas Center.”

Artistic Director Jake Perrine is currently putting together an outdoor season of summer entertainment offerings. For weekly updates about the center, sign up for the newsletter by emailing info@orcascenter.org. The OC is partnering with the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival in August for the theatre’s first in-person event since 2019. It will be a hybrid of live-streaming and a limited number of in-person seats. The Jazz Festival over Labor Day weekend will follow the same format. Classes and rehearsals for the community will also begin in September.

For the past 14 months, OC has been helmed by Stankevich, Perrine, Matisse, communications director Bethany Marie and bookkeeper Marcia West. Matisse says Orcas Center has been “very fiscally responsible” and received a handful of grants to bolster the bottom line during the pandemic.

As the organization looks at re-opening fully in January 2022, it will be hiring an office/box office manager and production assistant.

“Right now, our little staff is wearing a lot of hats,” said Matisse. “Your organization is only as good as your team. We have a beautiful team in place.”