The purpose of the Constellation Campaign is to raise funds for Northern Sky's new creative campus in Fish Creek. The campus is needed to safeguard the company's future and provide new strategic opportunities for mission-focused programming.
Northern Sky currently operates from a host of rented facilities spread all over Door County. The company rents office space in Ephraim, set and costume shops in Baileys Harbor, a rehearsal hall in Egg Harbor, four large storage units in Fish Creek, and fall and winter indoor performance venues -- all at an annual cost of approximately $80,000. The new creative campus will eliminate the need for such non-housing rentals. Moreover, it will give Northern Sky a secure home and centralize its support operations.
Attendees at the "Raise the Curtain" event were shown details of the building plan for the creative campus and were also informed of the success the company has already had in securing a site for the project and raising funds to build on it.
Holly Feldman, Northern Sky's development director, described an outpouring of generosity from donors, including a most significant lead gift. "The response to our campaign thus far has been humbling," she said. "In August, Northern Sky received an inspiring one million dollar lead gift from Barbara and Spencer Gould. Barbara served faithfully on the Northern Sky board of directors for seventeen years. Her gentle humor and keen insight have seen the company through some big transitions and some tough times. Through it all, her thoughtful, steady nature has been a shining example of quiet grace."
In presenting their gift last year, Barbara recalled how rewarding it has been for her to be a part of the Northern Sky family. "I loved my time on the board and being part of the evolution of this Door County treasure. My family has been the beneficiary of years of enjoyment, starting with the first time we attended a performance in 1989. We hope that our gift will inspire others to contribute and give back to an organization that has given so much to the Door community."
Furthermore, as a result of another generous donation, from Mike and Marge McCoy, Northern Sky has already purchased a 40-acre parcel at the corner of County A & F, which will be the site of the company's new creative campus.
All together, Northern Sky's quiet phase of its Constellation Campaign raised $4.4M toward the $6.7M campaign goal.
In addition, the company announced that it is launching the public phase of its Constellation Campaign with a significant challenge gift from an anonymous donor who promises to contribute $500,000 by matching $1 for every $2 raised up to $1M, producing a $1.5M benefit.
The creative campus's site plan includes two buildings to house an indoor theater, administrative offices, a box office, costume and set facilities, and storage spaces. The 250-seat indoor theater will serve as a place to hold rehearsals, readings, workshops, and fall and winter performances.
The amphitheater in Peninsula State Park will continue to be Northern Sky's summer performance venue, and the Constellation Campaign will also provide funds for much-needed upgrades to the company's home there, including improved sound and lighting, updated merchandise and concessions buildings, and new restrooms.
Peter Tan, an architect with the Madison-based firm Strang, Inc., designed the building plan for Northern Sky's creative campus, and his artistic renderings are now available to view at Northern Sky's website Over the winter, the company worked with Mr. Tan to modify some of the building plans, especially with regard to the theater space.
"We've more clearly defined the performance space that will be the centerpiece of our new campus. Our vision has progressed from a flexible rehearsal space, requiring great effort to transform into a performance space, to a dedicated, state-of-the-art theater that will allow room enough to rehearse and conduct workshops," stated Dave Maier, Northern Sky's managing director. "This evolution in our planning was shaped by focusing on patron experience and comfort. We're also dedicating additional resources to a sustainability fund to ensure that we can care for the building and grounds in perpetuity."
In April, the company's board of directors approved the revised architectural designs as well as the project budget and campaign goals and in May voted to move forward with an application for a fine-arts-venue conditional use permit.
Northern Sky has also partnered with the local firm of Carlson & Erickson Builders, Inc. John Sawyer, the company's owner, believes deeply in the future of Northern Sky and its importance to the economic success of Door County. "For nearly three decades, Northern Sky has been a vital part of tourism, the arts, and family memories for thousands of visiting and local patrons. We consider it an honor to be a part of this legacy," he said.
Tim Stone, a member of Northern Sky's building committee, expressed confidence in the partnership with Carlson & Erickson. "They have made the very generous offer to take the project from construction plans to final build at cost plus 3%," he said. "John's expertise and reputation in Door County will be a huge asset as we move forward."
Jeff Herbst, artistic director of Northern Sky, sees the building project as a renewed commitment to the company's audience. "We have an incredible relationship with our loyal audience," he said. "We now have generations of families who have been coming to see the original work we create with them in mind. People who came as children are now bringing their own children and grandchildren. This is a legacy moment for so many of us who have been involved with this company since its beginnings. We all feel a deep responsibility to set the stage for the success and longevity of this theater that we've made our life's work, that we've nurtured and cared for over all these years."
This building project will allow the organization to continue and to expand on this legacy.
"We are at a pivotal chapter in our development. We've come a long way since Dave Peterson had his inspired vision for that little ranger stage hidden away in a sleepy northern Wisconsin state park," stated company co-founder Doc Heide. "Northern Sky's Constellation Campaign is key to sustaining our future, while preserving the 'Northern Sky Experience.' This next step will ensure those beautiful family evenings and memories for generations to come."