Reser Center poised to change arts landscape
It remains to be seen who actually will perform and what will show at the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton, which could be completed by late 2021, and which will provide the west side of the Portland-metro area with its own entertainment complex.
But, it'll be busy, and it'll be grand, said Chris Ayzoukian, the center's general manager. Plenty of organizations and artists already have approached organizers about filling the place located at The Round off Southwest Hall and Cedar Hills boulevards with plays, concerts, dance, art and gallery showings, including many from Portland.
"To have a space like this coming online," Ayzoukian said, "it's been met with a lot of excitement and support."
At a cost of $51 million, of which nearly all has been raised and donated, the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts will feature a 550-seat performance venue, an art gallery, rooms for education workshops and events, a multipurpose room called "The Lab," meeting rooms, a big lobby and a plaza that promise to be showcases as well.
About 96% percent of financing has been secured. Patricia Reser donated $13 million, fundraising has netted about $10 million, and additional funding has come from the likes of the city of Beaverton and the Washington County Visitors Association. Ayzoukian said additional fundraising must be done but "we have only $1 million left to raise in private funds to cover construction costs."
And, because Oregon didn't shut down construction during the COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions period, it's been full steam ahead on the project, which has been led by general contractor Skanska.
Need and desire prompted movement on the project. Beaverton leaders have long wanted a performance complex, as designated in the Beaverton Community Vision action plan, and west-side groups, artists and arts enthusiasts have long wanted their own place to call home.
"They would still go downtown (Portland) for big stuff, but if there are more offerings on the west side they would partake," Ayzoukian said. "And, concurrent with that, there's been a need for more spaces for groups in Portland and the metro area.
"We'll combine both of those to serve the west-side audiences."
Portland has its Portland'5 Centers for the Arts (including Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and Keller Auditorium), Rose Quarter, theaters small and big including The Armory and Artists Repertory Theatre, music venues such as Aladdin Theater, Revolution Hall and Alberta Rose Theatre, and art galleries galore.
Ayzoukian said some Portland theater companies, music organizations and artists have inquired about using the Reser Center for the Arts.
"There's been real interest in how they can do a production out there," he said. "They're interested in the diverse audiences on the west side — 'This is an opportunity for us.'"
It helps that The Round is located next to a TriMet MAX Blue Line and stop, and Beaverton is the first suburb out west from Portland. There'll also be a huge parking structure.
And, the center would open up west-side space for local performers and artists, and perhaps serve as an alternative venue for the likes of Broadway Rose in Tigard and Bag&Baggage in Hillsboro.
As far as Beaverton-specific organizations like iSing Choir, Beaverton Civic Theater and Beaverton Symphony Orchestra, "my hope is that there'll be a presence from all these groups at the center," Ayzoukian said.
About 10 west-side groups have expressed interest in using the Reser Center.
There won't be just one featured theater group taking the stage. It might be how Artists Repertory Theatre operates its building and theater — when it's not being rebuilt, as is the current case — where Reser Center serves as a hub.
"It's traditionally known as nonresident theater, serving a variety of offerings. We're not going to be a producing theater; we're looking to bring top-notch producers into our space," Ayzoukian said. "When we're eventually mature, after the first few years, you'll see varied and a mixed calendar of offerings — music, dance, film, speakers, art galleries, workshops.
"We'll get touring artists, and artists and organizations from across the metro area, both community and professional groups. We're talking to a lot of groups across the region; no groups have been set in stone. It's a little bit too soon. ... We have the advantage of being flexible, trying different things for a couple years. Over time, the center will really develop its niche."
Ayzoukian hopes the art gallery will focus on Northwest artists. "We want to make this center a place that is really relevant and tied to the community," he said. He envisions it being a free art gallery without peer sales, and it'll be curated by the center itself.
Although it's early, the staff could number about 12 full-time employees, as well as volunteers.
In general, the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts wants to be an addition to the Portland arts landscape.
"As we all navigate through this, we want to do it in a way that is really considerate of audiences and societal behavior," Ayzoukian said. "We want to be a partner."
Said Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle: "In many ways, the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts will very much become a hub within the city; a venue for showcasing the community's diversity through the arts."
For more, see www.centerfortheartscampaign.com.
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