The long-planned Tateuchi Center got a major boost with three donations totaling $20 million, organization officials announced during an event on Wednesday night at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.
Hundreds of supporters celebrated the donations, $10 million of which comes from Minoru Arakawa — the founder of Nintendo America — his wife, Yoko, and their family. Thanks to their gift, the 2,000-seat hall was named the Arakawa Concert Hall.
Two of Arakawa’s family members were at the event to accept accolades for their family’s donation.
“We were very impressed with the plans of the Tateuchi Center and believe it will be wonderful for the Eastside to have such a state-of-the-art performing arts facility,” said Yoko Arakawa, president and director of the Arakawa Foundation, in a statement. “We have lived in the Eastside for over 30 years and raised our family there and are happy to have the opportunity to support such a community-building cause.”
Executive Director John Haynes said the Tateuchi Center “will put art in the heart of Bellevue and that will start in the new Arakawa Concert Hall.”
In addition, the Freeman family and Microsoft Corp. matched the Arakawa’s gift by $5 million each.
During the event, Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, Jr. spoke about other infrastructure and amenities that also took many years to build, including the 520 floating bridge, Overlake Medical Center and the Lincoln Square Cinemas, which took his own company about 20 years to bring to Bellevue.
“The Tateuchi Center also has taken about 20 years to get us to this point,” Freeman said, noting he first heard about the performing arts center when he read the city of Bellevue’s study on the matter. “… It basically said something that stuck with me — and I don’t pretend to be an expert on this topic — except I know what communities need and I will work hard to bring those things here and a performing arts center is one of them.”
Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, said his company has been committed to bringing a performing arts center to Bellevue for over a decade. He noted that Microsoft is investing in the Tateuchi Center because all great metropolitan centers around the world have a series of “crown jewels.”
“Great metropolitan centers have great transportation infrastructure, they build new bridges the way we have with 520,” Smith said. “They invest in all of the areas where investment is needed and clearly you can’t have a great collection of crown jewels in an area if you don’t have crown jewels for the arts — that’s what the Tateuchi Center means. This is the missing crown jewel at the moment in greater Seattle.”
He also noted the project currently has “more momentum” than ever before.
“We believe that there will come a day when people will stop talking about why it took so long and instead say thank goodness it is here, why wasn’t it here long ago,” Smith said to applause.
The Tateuchi Center’s Capital and Endowment Campaign has raised $122 million of its $195 million goal.
The 175,000-square-foot facility is expected to break ground in spring 2018 and be completed in 2020. It will be located in Downtown Bellevue on the corner of Northeast 10th Street and 106th Avenue Northeast — land that the Freeman family also donated for the project.
For more information, visit www.tateuchicenter.org.