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Arts commission launches online fundraising campaign

Phase 2 of Gateway Sculptures Project to make use of crowd-funding platform, Kickstarter

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Phase I of the Gateway Sculptures Project, which saw the installation of two lantern-like, blue obelisks on Milton Creek Bridge on Highway 30, was completed in 2014. The total cost of the project was $50,000, a cost the Arts and Cultural Commission plans to exceed with the Phase II sculpture. The St. Helens Arts and Cultural Commission will launch a $16,000 fundraising campaign Wednesday, June 1, to help pay for a $62,000 art project that will adorn the south entrance to the city on the McNulty Creek Bridge.

The project is the second phase of the Gateway Sculptures Project introduced in 2010 by the ACC to beautify Highway 30 that bisects St. Helens and add to the city’s character. Phase one of the project was completed in 2014 when two lantern-like obelisk pillars were installed on the Milton Creek Bridge.

On Wednesday, project advocates will launch a one-month online fundraising campaign through Kickstarter, a global crowd-funding website used to fund artistic and entrepreneurial projects.

“This project is [about] wayfinding in a way,” said Kannikar Petersen, an ACC member and project manager. “It is art, [but] it’s art that demarcates the entrance to city of St. Helens.”

In September, the ACC approved a contract with Portland-based architecture and design firm Rhiza A+D to build a piece titled the “Salmon Tree Cycle” as the second phase of the Gateway Project. The proposed sculpture includes two pieces that illustrate the impact of salmon life cycles on the rivers they inhabit and the trees that grow on the banks of those rivers. The pieces will be installed on the McNulty Creek Bridge at the city’s south entrance.

“As much as the first part, phase one, talks about our history, our heritage and our natural assets, this one talks about our future,” Petersen said. “I thought the concept of this project and the last one really compliment one another.”

The $62,000 price tag of the project is partially financed with $15,000 set aside in the ACC budget. The commission has also received grants from the Columbia County Cultural Coalition, and has a pledge from the city of St. Helens to match up to $20,000 in funds raised. Launching the Kickstarter campaign next week is the ACC’s next ambitious effort to raise money and support for the project.

“I think the timeliness of something like this [sculpture] is so perfect because we’re planning for our waterfront right now,” said Jennifer Dimsho, city of St. Helens assistant city planner. “We’re planning to get people having access to the Columbia River, which they’ve been blocked off from for many years, and we’re getting a sculpture that’s tying our Pacific Northwest heritage back. [It’s] just perfect.”

Kickstarter campaigns are all-or-nothing fundraisers. If enough people pledge the full amount by the campaign’s deadline, organizers get the funding. If the pledges don’t meet the goal, then no funds are released.

The benefit of using Kickstarter is that pledgers can receive awards or incentives based on the amount they donate, Dimsho and Petersen explained. Incentives include items like signed sketches of the sculpture, hand-crafted ceramic pieces designed to look like salmon scales, pint glasses with logos printed on them and other items. Top donors can have their names inscribed in a description plaque that will accompany the sculpture.

The success of the campaign also relies heavily on a social media presence, Dimsho added. The project can be promoted and marketed to the public and potential donors all over through one online tool. With an expiration date on the digital campaign, it’s possible the project won’t achieve it’s funding goal, but the exposure is still beneficial for the public to learn about the project, Petersen and Dimsho explained.

To find out more information about the Gateway Project: Phase II, visit www.salmontreecyle.com. A link to the Kickstarter page can be found here.