We inspire audiences and artists of all ages through live performances, enriching the vibrancy of our community.
- To deliver diverse, affordable, high-quality performing arts programs;
- To support the artistic interests of performing arts groups within the region;
- To promote performing arts education in the south Puget Sound region for all age groups;
- To maintain fair and equitable community access to the Washington Center Performing Arts facility;
- To provide a well-maintained and contemporary performance center that is responsive to needs of audience and performer comfort, safety, and access;
- To operate in a fiscally responsible manner and form supportive partnerships with government, corporations, businesses, foundations, and individuals;
- To foster economic vitality, tourism and local development in the south Puget Sound region, and;
- To provide opportunities for staff to develop to their full personal and professional potential.
The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, South Puget Sound’s beloved performing arts facility, is committed to providing a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities for the residents of five counties. Located in the heart of Washington State’s capital city, the Center has become a community gathering place, providing a focus for the performing arts unique to the region.
We present our own season of nationally and internationally touring artists from a broad spectrum of genres and styles. We are also the home of over 20 local performance groups, otherwise known as our Artistic Partners.
Opened in 1985, our facility has played host to thousands of events, with almost 2,000,000 people crossing our threshold. Our history did not start in 1985, however. The Washington Center is really the grandchild of the old Liberty Theater, a 1924 vaudeville house which stood on the same ground the Washington Center does today. The Liberty Theater was renovated and refurbished in 1948, becoming the Olympic Theater movie house. The Olympic was then taken down to just a few exterior walls in the early 1980s, and completely rebuilt as the Washington Center. While the building’s facade still retains elements of the 1924 architecture, the interior is contemporary and modern. Read more about the theater’s rich history in this article by historian Ed Echtle.
The Washington Center building is owned by the City of Olympia, and The Washington Center for the Performing Arts is a private, not-for-profit organization – Tax ID 91-1182866 – with a long-term contract to operate The Center. We are a success story in public/private partnerships and are proud to cultivate a culturally vibrant community with support from the city.
It is important to take a moment to acknowledge that the Washington Center and downtown Olympia sits on the traditional lands of the Steh-Chass band of the Squaxin Island Tribe. We also recognize the Medicine Creek Treaty Tribes, and the Nisqually People of this region. As an arts organization, we encourage you to look around our community at the innumerable contributions that native artists have made, whose histories and cultures are woven into the fabric of our communities and our collective identities.