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Littlefield Celtic Center Construction Update

by Skye K. Richendrfer, December 15, 2014

More than once this holiday season, I’ve had occasion to reflect on the fact that we started this project in May of 2012, with the strong desire to find a permanent office space.  At the Celtic Arts Foundation Scotch-tasting held that year, we announced a $5000 gift that was given to CAF to start a capital campaign.  Fast forward two years and we had moved into our newly remodeled office space, and now five months later the creation of the Littlefield Celtic Center is underway.   Talk about going from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds!

So what’s next?  All efforts are focused on completing the construction project, so that we can start using it to do what we do best: celebrate our culture with music, dance and fun-filled family-oriented programs.  It just seems like the right time of year to express our deep gratitude to our many members, friends and supporters, and pass along a progress and status report.

In spite of strong winds and otherwise unpleasant weather for performing construction tasks, Fisher and Sons made steady progress on our project last week.  Work crews of 3-4 are on site every day, with numerous subcontractors and inspectors coming and going as well.  WP_20141212_10_08_04_ProSub-floor joists have been attached and plywood sub-floor is over half done in preparation for the eventual maple hardwood floor installation a few months down the road.  Substantial numbers of project e-mails are being exchanged, and construction team meetings are held “fortnightly” (using the appropriate British term for every two weeks).

With a targeted completion date of April 15, 2015, there is reason to hope and believe the first “official” event at the Littlefield Celtic Center will be our Scotch-tasting Gala on May 16, 2015!  For that to occur, this basic construction schedule must be met:

  • Sub-floor completed by 12/24/2014
  • Wall framing:  12/19/2014 – 2/17/2015
  • Mechanical systems:  1/23/2015-3/15/2015
  • Electrical systems:  1/30/2015-4/15/2015
  • Interior finishes:  1/30/2015-4/15/2015

Of course this is the “good Lord will’n and creek don’t rise” version of reality, in which we choose to believe.

Budget & Grants
Before digging one hole or pounding one nail on this project, we had to develop a plan and do the fundraising for what eventually became a $2.384M project.  Many donors participated, but the enormous support of Ed & Laura Littlefield (for whom the building is being named) ultimately made this project possible.  We have pursued grant funding from many sources, including the Tulalip Tribes who earlier this month made a $10,000 grant award in support of the Littlefield Celtic Center project.

We’ve moved into a phase of the project where major support from philanthropic foundations is being pursued.  The old cliché about “timing is everything” is especially true in the context of writing grants and receiving philanthropic support from large foundations.  It’s just really important to have your ducks lined up to have any chance of success in what is an extremely complicated and frankly very competitive arena.

During the second week of December, two significant grant applications were submitted; one to the Vancouver, WA-based Murdock Charitable Trust for $309,040, and a second to the Bellevue, WA-based PACCAR Foundation for $50,000.  The Murdock application consists of pages and pages of narratives about programs, board governance, project sustainability, outcome measures, past financial performance, tax returns, budgets, fundraising plans and more—we invited them to be the completing piece of our funding package (something they are known to like to do).

The critical observer might at this point ask the question: “but wait, I thought you had all the funding required to complete the project?”  We do, however the basic project plan was developed with the idea that we would defer purchasing much of the kitchen, as well as technical audio and video components.  While those items are important, deferring the $300,000+ non-critical parts allowed us to get started and get the proverbial roof over our heads.  If successful with our Murdock grant, we will be able to finalize everything!

ISolar paneln addition to the kitchen and technical items, the new building is an ideal candidate for solar power.  With state tax incentives and rebates, along with the anticipated power savings, it appears a solar installation at this site would completely pay for itself in about eight years.  PACCAR has a technical center in Skagit County, and their Foundation prefers funding projects in which their company has a significant presence.  Here again we think the grant application aligns well with the technical nature of PACCAR, which when combined with the short term financial payback makes our project a strong candidate for consideration.

To support our grant efforts, we put out a call to stakeholders to help us by writing and posting reviews on a website frequently visited by large grant-making Foundations.  As of this writing 60 people have written very kind and thoughtful reviews of CAF and the work we do.  You can read all of them here.

WP_20141214_16_21_33_Pro-1024x576At the end of the day, it really isn’t about a building structure at all—it’s about what goes on INSIDE the building!  Last night for our Holiday Scottish music session, 16 musicians gathered from around the Pacific NW region for several hours of lively tunes and foot stomping!  Several spectators joined us too, and this offered a real glimpse into the type of activities we so look forward to regularly hosting at the Littlefield Celtic Center!

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