Award-winning actor, USM alum Tony Shalhoub breaks ground on new Crewe Center for the Arts

University of Southern Maine (USM) students, leadership, alumni, and community supporters celebrated the official groundbreaking of The Crewe Center for the Arts, the new performing and visual arts facility being built on the Portland campus. The name of the Center, announced by award-winning actor and USM graduate Tony Shalhoub ’77, recognizes the generosity and commitment of Daniel Crewe ’22H, a longtime champion of the arts and Chair of USM’s just-completed Great University Campaign, which raised a record-breaking $50 million.

Commenting on the significance of the groundbreaking milestone, Tony Shalhoub ’77, Honorary Chair of USM’s Center for the Arts Campaign and a 1977 graduate of USM’s Theatre Department, recalled his personal experience at the University.

“Being able to work so closely with dedicated professors and mentors in USM’s Theatre Department allowed me to discover my own potential and passion for acting––and helped me go further than I ever imagined,” said Mr. Shalhoub. “Building a new Center for the Arts on USM’s Portland campus will help ensure that today’s talented students will discover their own greatness, too.” 

Remarks at the groundbreaking event were punctuated with student performances by the Concert Band at USM’s Osher School of Music, directed by Dr. William Kinne. The program included a reading of USM’s Land Acknowledgement by USM Theater students, remarks by Tony Shalhoub, and a ceremonial “groundbreaking” by university officials, campaign leadership, and USM arts students. Architectural renderings of the new building were on hand, along with displays of visual arts that would be featured in the new Crewe Center.

Describing the game-changing impact of the new arts facility, USM President Jacqueline Edmondson said, “Beyond bricks and mortar, the Crewe Center will better serve our talented faculty and students, open the doors to wider community collaboration in music, theatre, and the visual arts, and greatly benefit Maine’s unique creative economy. We are deeply grateful to our trailblazing donors who are helping us realize this vision and to leaders like Tony Shalhoub and Dan Crewe, who are committed to building a great future for the arts at USM.”

The Crewe Center for the Arts will become the new home of USM’s highly acclaimed Dr. Alfred and D. Suzi Osher School of Music, named in honor of Mrs. Osher and her late husband, Dr. Alfred Osher. A $10 million gift from Mrs. Osher paved the way for construction of the new facility––the largest monetary gift in USM Foundation history. Another significant contribution of more than $6 million came from the Crewe Foundation, established by Dan Crewe to honor his late brother, the legendary singer, songwriter, and producer, Bob Crewe.

The $63 million Crewe Center project and construction is being funded through a combination of private philanthropy and public investment, including $9 million from ongoing capital funding provided to the University of Maine System by Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature.

Speaking of the ongoing Crewe Center fundraising campaign, Ainsley Wallace, President and CEO of the USM Foundation said, “So many generous people have stepped forward to support this project––and there are still many opportunities, at every level, to join in. To date, we’ve raised more than $20 million in philanthropic donations. With Dan Crewe and Honorary Chair Tony Shalhoub leading the way, we’re confident we can raise the additional $5 million needed to complete this transformational project.”

With a footprint of approximately 40,000 square feet, the Crewe Center will have state-of-the-art facilities for music teaching, learning, and performance, and establish a Portland presence for USM’s theatre, dance, and visual arts programs. The Center’s key spaces include the 200-seat Performance Hall that can accommodate smaller ensembles, opera, and dance performances; the multipurpose Arts Lab for recitals, rehearsals, and other events; the Great Hall Gallery exhibition space; and the Visual Arts Studio, home to the Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 Center for Book Arts. Outdoor spaces are planned for concerts, a sculpture garden, and visual arts terrace.

When completed in 2025, the Crewe Center for the Arts is expected to boost enrollment at USM’s Osher School of Music, attracting talented students from Maine and throughout the northeast. The Osher School has a 60-year legacy as a premier program and training ground for musicians and teachers and its influence can be felt all over the world. Distinguished and award-winning graduates include Grammy winners, Metropolitan Opera singers, nationally known soloists, and music entrepreneurs. The school is also the backbone of K-12 music education in Maine, with choral and band professionals leading programs across the state.

Situated at the corner of Deering Avenue and Bedford Street, the Crewe Center for the Arts is a signature part of USM’s Portland campus transformation, which also includes the newly opened McGoldrick Center for Career & Student Success, Bean Green campus quad, and Portland Commons residence hall. These buildings are among the most sustainable ever constructed at USM. The new Crewe Center for the Arts is expected to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. The design/build team includes Pfeiffer Partners Architects, Oak Point Associates, and Consigli Construction.