Skip to main content

Eau Claire celebrates opening of Pablo Center at the Confluence

| Judy Berthiaume (story); Glen Mabie (video)

Thousands of people from UW-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire community gathered this month to celebrate the opening of Pablo Center at the Confluence, the new modern arts center that will serve the university and local arts organizations.

Pablo Center at the Confluence

UW-Eau Claire and local arts organizations are partners in the new, modern arts venue.

The $60 million arts center — which already is driving Eau Claire’s creative economy to new heights — is an example of how public and private groups can come together to build something bigger and better than any of them could have done on their own, says UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt.

“We celebrate not the brick and mortar, but a community that can come together, that can collectively accomplish anything we put our minds to,” Schmidt says, noting that Pablo Center is a model for planning and funding future university-community projects.

As the community celebrates Pablo Center, it also celebrates how much the arts enrich people’s lives, says B.J. Hollars, UW-Eau Claire associate professor of English and founder of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild.

“We all need this place because art is not a luxury, but an essential part of a human life,” Hollars says.

You can see a video of highlights from the Sept. 22 community celebration here.

Pablo Center at the Confluence

With its location in the heart of downtown Eau Claire, Pablo Center already is propelling the city’s creative economy to new levels.

Designed by Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture of New York, the stunning building includes the 1,200-seat RCU Theatre and 400-seat Jamf Theatre, which replaces the downtown’s 92-year-old State Theatre and UW-Eau Claire’s 66-year-old Kjer Theatre, both of which are considered obsolete.

It also includes a dance studio, art galleries, a state-of-the-art recording studio, modern rehearsal spaces, and UW-Eau Claire theatre classrooms, labs and faculty offices.

The new spaces allow for more hands-on experiences for student learning, and a higher quality of educational experiences.

With a mission to support the performing, literary and visual arts, Pablo will host UW-Eau Claire performances and art exhibits as well as community concerts, performances and Broadway-style touring shows that no other regional campus or community previously could support.

“Pablo Center is a gorgeous facility that will become known on an international level,” says Jason Jon Anderson, Pablo Center executive director. “The incredibly designed performance venues will help the Chippewa Valley celebrate and grow the creative arts in new and extraordinary ways. It’s a new beautiful, welcoming creative hub whose architecture and design are now iconic.”

Pablo Center is possible because of the innovative public-private partnerships among UW-Eau Claire, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, the city of Eau Claire, Eau Claire County, the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, Visit Eau Claire, state of Wisconsin, and private partners and advocates

Funding sources for the facility included $5 million from the city of Eau Claire, $3.5 million from Eau Claire County, a $15 million state of Wisconsin non-agency grant, $3 million in new market tax credits, and $33.5 million in philanthropy and other sources. 

Top photo caption: The popular Blugold Marching Band entertained the thousands of people who gathered on the plaza near Pablo Center to celebrate the art center’s grand opening.