Rick Steves’ $1 million ECA donation also to help Cascade Symphony Orchestra

    Rick Steves

    Edmonds was abuzz Thursday following the announcement that Edmonds-based travel writer and public broadcasting host Rick Steves will donate $1 million to Edmonds Center for the Arts. According to a press release issued by Steves, the funds will support and expand the Center’s performances and community programs. A portion of the gift will also support Edmonds’ Cascade Symphony Orchestra by underwriting all of their facility costs for the next 10 years.

    Steves and his family have long been involved in the art life of this community. During Steves’ childhood, his father’s piano store on Main Street supplied the Cascade Symphony Orchestra with fine German concert grand pianos. In fact, Steves taught piano lessons in his father’s store to fund his early European travels, and he held his first travel classes in his piano teaching studio.

    “This donation is my way of helping to empower the fine people who’ve been working for years for the good of Edmonds’ art and culture – especially now, as what I consider a false austerity is being forced on the finer points of our culture.”

    Steves said he wants this donation to be a challenge to others in the area. “I see it as a civic duty for businessmen like me, who’ve directly benefited from our vibrant communities, to do our fair share. Over the last decade, my tax burden has decreased even as public funding for important local programs and institutions has been decimated – a trend I find alarming. It’s my hope to inspire other caring high income people to step up and fill those funding gaps with private donations, to support causes that should be borne collectively by a community – arts centers, parks, schools, libraries, local symphonies, and to speak out on the wisdom of rolling back the tax cuts for our wealthy.

    “If you’re fortunate enough to be doing well these days, figure out what recent tax cuts have saved you, then donate that amount to a deserving cause that you believe in. With my tax cut, I’m paying our orchestra’s rent. Imagine what, together, our community could do.”

    “ECA is appreciative of Rick’s recognition of our efforts and those of our artistic partner Cascade Symphony Orchestra to be a cultural resource for Edmonds and for the Puget Sound region,” ECA executive director Joe McIalwain said. “This gift will enable us to focus on expanding our artistic vision and programming opportunities to continue to serve our patrons, locally and regionally.”

    ECA Marketing Manager Beth Braun noted in an email to My Edmonds News Thursday night that Steves’ donation “is not directed to ease capital debt, in that some of it will support the operations of Cascade Symphony Orchestra at our facility.  Since that is the first priority, ECA does not have a plan for any unallocated money not utilized for those expenses,” Braun added. While the five-year-old ECA has been in positive financial shape on the operations side, with revenue from ticket sales and fundraising increasing, it has had difficulty meeting its bond payments due to the financial downturn, which has reduced tax revenues that would have assisted with those capital obligations.

    The ECA will continue to raise money, including the Arts Crush fundraiser on Sept. 24, as planned, Braun said. “While we appreciate Rick’s generosity and his gift provides a tremendous boost to our artistic efforts, ECA will continue with our usual fundraising events and plans to meet our budgetary necessities,” she said.

    To celebrate the donation, Steves is performing “Rick Steves’ Europe: A Symphonic Journey” with the Cascade Symphony Orchestra Oct. 23and 24at the ECA. This concert, to be filmed for a national public TV special, will feature rousing popular favorites from Europe’s greatest composers—including Grieg, Smetana, Strauss, Berlioz, Elgar, Wagner, and Verdi—all introduced by Steves and illustrated with video clips from his public television archive. At each performance, an audience member will be selected at random to receive a Rick Steves seven-day European city tour for two of his/her choice. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit www.ricksteves.com/symphony.

    See earlier story here.


    1. RIcky,

      If you were actually protesting the Bush Tax Cuts like you profess, you would be sending your $1 Million to the US Treasury and not over to a pet art project in Edmonds. Are federal tax dollars available to the Edmonds Art Center? No chance.

      Its good to see that far left wackos like Steves do not trust the Federal Government with their money any more than the rest of us. Given that Obama and Congress are throwing our money down a black hole. Steves is seeking widespread accolades for his donation, hence the press release.

    2. Thank you, Rick, for your generous contribution.

      Music is very important in my family’s life, and living in Portland (America’s most beautiful city) we are blessed to have a 24/7 all classical radio station. When I was traveling recently in the Sarasota area, and heard that they had a new classical public station in the founding, I called in and became a founding member. Ditto in Seattle a couple months ago. OK, I took a couple of small steps to make the nation a better place for all; you took a big one for the same reason.

      Let’s keep trying to make all of our lives better with good music.

    3. Fantastic! What a generous gift from a man who has shared so much and helped educate us more about travel and the arts! Thank you, Rick!

    4. Actually Rick only made a $650,000 donation – the American taxpayer made the other $350,000 as Rick will deduct this contribution on his tax return. While still real money, the tax code he is complaining about forces the rest of us to fund his headline grabbing donation.

    5. It’s a pretty sad time when we have people like Marshall chasing all over the internets to revile someone for such a fantastic act. I’m willing to bet none of the trolls out there know Rick, yet they run around talking out their backsides about what he is doing and why. As the kids say “Haters gonna hate.”
      I for one, take my hat off to Rick and say thanks for supporting such a local treasure.

      If you will pardon me, I have a thank you not to write.

    6. Thank you Rick. You are a gem. And you so eloquently stated my beliefs. I am not a high income earner – but I believe in taking my tax refund check and donating it in the arts community and to help other vital causes right here. I can live without granite counter tops and a fancy car. 🙂

      Marshall – you are what’s wrong with this country.

    7. Steve’s comment in #5 is very interesting. If all of us gave to our favorate thing in Edmonds then we can get a Federal tax reduction. It is kind of like a matching grant process. I guess the same thing can be said for a tax we pay for local things. We get that deduction as well. So if we give directly to the Arts or pay a tax for something like Street Overlays we get a federal tax break. Rick’s contribution was $1m and the street overlay tax if approved is also $1m. Then with the federal tax break, both will actually cost us less. Sounds like we have discovered a way to generate federal funds for local projects. Thanks Steve for the great idea.

    8. Rick’s generosity to his community serves as an outstanding example for all of us. Not only to donate money, but also our time and attention, to building the community we want here in Edmonds. And building for the long term.

      Few things are uglier than people who second-guess the loving acts of others. Make whatever contribution you wish; but don’t judge how others choose to contribute.

    9. Todd, I am supportive of Ricks work and of the many ohter contributions our citizens make both in time and money for the community.

    10. Darrol – just make sure you are donating to a qualified charity or else the IRS will deny your deduction if you are ever audited (and donating $1 million will probably get the IRS to give your return a closer look!)


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