Before the paint was even dry on the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College when it opened in 1997, Bette and Russ Serzen knew there was still a lot of work to be done.
Russ was always concerned that after construction the contributions would stop, Bette Serzen said of her late husband, who died in 2002.
The Serzens were one of the largest initial contributors to the Concert Hall, and Bette Serzen continues to rally support for the venues operations through the Russ & Bette Serzen Endowment Fund. She, along with Cheryl Folwell, organized Fridays Jazz on the Hill dinner and concert with singer Joyce Lyons to raise money for the fund.
Attendees will enjoy an onstage dinner catered by Chuck Norton, champagne and hors douevres and music by Lyons accompanied by the FLC Jazz Combo. Lyons is a frequent visitor to the Concert Hall and also will again teach a free master class Thursday in Roshong Recital Hall. Hers is the classic, Golden Age of Jazz-style, and shes most comfortable putting her own spin on the Great American Songbook of Porter, Gershwin, Arlen, et al.
The Jazz on the Hill series is nothing new at FLC, but Serzen said this years special dinner and concert marks the first of what she hopes will be an annual event specifically focused on raising funds dedicated to operations.
Ticket prices dont supply the need, and it takes a lot to maintain it, she said.
Concert Hall director Charles Leslie corroborated Serzens claim. Leslie said of the Concert Halls annual operating budget of between $600,000 and $850,000, only 40 percent comes from ticket sales.
The college provides another 15 to 20 percent, as well as free rent and utilities, which means that almost half of the facilitys funds come from grants, sponsorships and independent fundraising.
When she set up the endowment, it was to start a fund for operational needs, and what was so significant was that they saw the need to eventually generate income, Leslie said.
This is the first time that weve really made the endowment the focus of specific fundraising, so were very excited to get it built up, he said.
Serzen said her immediate goal is to build the fund to $100,000, which will create income for minimum maintenance expenditures. But thats just a starting point.
After so many years, one of these days well have to refurbish, so were going to need money in the bank for that. A million, and it would be set, she said.