Fundraising for Firehouse Arts Center Heats Up February 29 with "A Wonderful Evening of Oz"

Here's a special way to celebrate Leap Year 2008: at the entertainment-filled gala fundraiser for Pleasanton's planned Firehouse Arts Center. Complete with live music, theater, and dance, the February 29 event, "A Wonderful Evening of Oz," will provide a sneak peek into the kinds of performances available to the community when the long-awaited facility opens its doors in September 2009. A dinner to please the most discriminating foodies, a rousing auction, and dancing to tunes spun by emcee and dj Brad Kinney will round out the evening.

A perfect example of adaptive reuse, the arts center will rise from the site of the city's first fire station, built downtown on Railroad Avenue in 1929. The original structure, incorporating locally manufactured bricks (a fact that inspires an extra measure of hometown pride), will be transformed into a 17,000-square-foot arts showcase accommodating a 3,400-square-foot studio theater with seating for 240; 2,000 square feet of gallery space; a large classroom; and a 1,350- square-foot grand lobby, suitable for hosting a variety of events.

Not only will the revived Firehouse present multiple cultural opportunities for a broad cross-section of residents, from children to seniors, but it's also viewed as an economic catalyst that will enhance the vitality of the downtown district. "This will be key to leading Pleasanton to the next stage in its evolution, offering residents all of the amenities, including arts and cultural opportunities, close to home," reads the vision statement of the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Foundation (PCAF), the 501 (c ) (3) non-profit organization taking the lead in advocating and securing private funding for the project.

Working behind the scenes since its incorporation in 2004, PCAF has so far raised $1.5 million out of a total $5 million it has pledged to the arts center, including the $1 million collective contribution its nine-member board of directors made in September 2006. The balance of the project, whose total cost is estimated at $12-$13 million, will be funded by the City of Pleasanton, which will operate the facility with a combination of public and private funds.

According to PCAF Campaign Director Debbie Look, the February 29 gala marks the formal launch of the community-wide Firehouse Arts Center Capital Campaign. In keeping with the Land of Oz theme, guests will be able to buy commemorative bricks that, quite literally, will help bring the arts home to Pleasanton. They will also be able to bid on an enticing array of goods and services donated by area merchants and participate in various levels of financial support.

Look is counting on the gala's live entertainment to make it stand out from the typical charity fundraiser. "The arts aspect is what makes this unique, and everyone will have a really fun evening," she promises. "It will be like getting a behind-the-curtain peek at this fabulous new community resource."

Individual tickets for the "Wonderful Evening of Oz," which will be held at the Pleasanton Senior Center, are $150 per person. With a room capacity of just 240 people, a sell-out crowd is expected. For more information, call the PCAF at (925) 846-1007 or visit .

Editor's Note: The Pleasanton Playhouse is presenting a stage version of "The Wizard of Oz" from January 18 through February 3 at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center. For ticket information, visit or call the box office at 925-373-6800.

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