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Blugolds' foundation donates $5 million to downtown arts center

| Julie Poquette

Three UW-Eau Claire alumni are the founders of a philanthropic foundation that has given $5 million in support of the new community arts center being constructed in downtown Eau Claire.

Zach Halmstad, a 2004 music graduate; Julia Johnson, a 2005 biology graduate; and Jason Wudi, a 2001 management information systems graduate, are the founding board members of the Pablo Foundation, which made the $5 million donation for the arts center through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

The donation, which was announced Feb. 16, secured naming rights for the facility, which will officially be called The Pablo Center at the Confluence.

"This is a wonderful story to tell of these three UW-Eau Claire alumni who've stayed in our community following graduation, have done well and are choosing to give resources back to the community," said Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

Halmstad is the co-founder of Jamf, a successful software company started in Eau Claire. Johnson and Wudi also are employees of the company. A few years ago, the company built a new, $12 million, 70,000-square-foot building in downtown Eau Claire near the site of The Pablo Center at the Confluence.

The Pablo Center at the Confluence will be a shared university-community facility. Scheduled to open in fall 2018, the arts center will provide much-needed rehearsal, teaching and support space for UW-Eau Claire's theater program and a significantly larger performance venue for its nationally renowned music program. The center also will host community concerts, performances and Broadway-style touring shows that no current campus or community venue can support.

Read a recent Volume One story about the Pablo Foundation gift in support of the arts center.