The City of Beaverton is a step closer to bringing its $46 million arts center to life. Philanthropist Pat Reser was revealed Tuesday as the lead donor in a low-key fundraising campaign years in the making.
Beaverton, the state's sixth largest city, is surging — with a population nearing 96,000. Its arts and culture scene features dozens of theaters, cultural dance groups, a full symphony orchestra and more, but, like many Oregon cities, it needs more venues for art.
Pat Reser, an educator and philanthropist who chairs her family's foundation — and the Beaverton project campaign — recalled a quote from Aristotle "to the effect that, 'The purpose of city is that its population flourish.' That's my hope."
Reser, for whom the new complex will be named, had been interested in a home for Beaverton's creative life for several decades.
"It's not just libraries and parks cities might be interested in but the quality of available art."
But it was not until Mayor Denny Doyle's idea for a combined performance venue, education center and meeting hub gained traction that Reser made her move. Reser gave $13 million in seed money to kick-start public and private fundraising for the project. It's the largest single gift the Reser Family Foundation has ever made.
Design plans call for a 550-seat performance venue, a gallery, studios for art classes, rehearsal space and more in an adjacent garage.
But Reser notes, the Center for the Arts has the potential to create something extra: gravitational pull for related development.
"Beaverton has had a hard time defining the center of the city," she said. "If you ask three different people, you'd hear three different answers. I could see that this could be a catalyst."
The city is contributing $21 million in public resources, and reports that combined public and private fundraising now totals eighty percent of the projected cost.
Chris Ayzoukian is the project's general manager.
"We are looking to build a place that will support the local and regional arts infrastructure and grow it. I can't say how critical it is that this center develops as an ally and partner and service organization to local and regional arts groups."
Programming for the performance space, Ayzoukian said, will be an evolving mix of local arts and culture with some out-of-town artists who might draw audiences via TriMet's Blue Line MAX train.
"Because of its location in Beaverton," Ayzoukian said, "we really see this as a gateway and bridge between the West Side and downtown Portland area."
The city hopes to break ground on the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts late next year.