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Rick Steves Donates $1 Million to Edmonds Center for the Arts

Travel guru says he's making a political statement. He also hopes to inspire others to give.

Edmonds resident Rick Steves has made a $1 million donation to the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

According to a press release, 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 says he wants this donation to be a challenge to others in the Puget Sound 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," he said in the release. "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," said ECA executive director Joe McIalwain. "This gift will enable us to focus on expanding our artistic vision and programming opportunities to continue to serve our patrons, locally and regionally.”

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 CSO with fine German concert grand pianos. 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.”

In celebration of this donation, Steves is performing Rick Steves’ Europe: A Symphonic Journey with the Cascade Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 23-24 at ECA. This concert, to be filmed for a national public TV special, will feature rfavorites 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.

Sherry stewart August 27, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Smart move on His part. Many rich have said, tax us! But this is so much better than turning the money over to the government!, the caring rich could move and shake this world with contributions and programs not just for arts, but to feed the now 1 in 4 hungry American children and their families, reform health care, etc. All the things government would't spend the money on anyway! Rick, congratulations!! You're a good man and a smart man that has found a way to beat the system that's failing. The structure is crumbling, and you just transformed a piece of it into art!,
Paddy Eger August 28, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Way to go! Thanks for ensuring the center stays viable. P. Eger
T August 30, 2011 at 07:08 PM
I have heard that the gov't itself estimates administrative costs to be in the range of 72-cents for every dollar allocated for social programs like the arts. By my math it would take 3.6 Rick Steves paying 1-mil in taxes to achieve the funding that Mr. Steves was able to accomplish by himself. What is wrong with this picture?

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