University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings announced a $1 million gift from a long-time friend of the university for the purpose of launching the new Center for the Arts project on the Portland campus. The donor, a passionate supporter of the arts who wishes to remain anonymous, is making this contribution as a memorial honoring Dr. Alfred Osher.
“This generous gift enables USM to take the next step toward realizing our dream of building a new Center for the Arts at USM in Portland," said President Cummings. "The time has come to create a visual and performing arts facility on our Portland campus that showcases the exceptional talents of our students and faculty, and opens the door to wider arts and cultural engagement in Maine and beyond."
The $1 million dollar gift will position USM to begin the selection process for an architectural/engineering team to design the new facility.
A key element in the university's master plan for the Portland campus, the Center for the Arts will meet the academic programming needs of USM's outstanding School of Music and departments of Theatre and Art, and it will feature a 1,000 seat concert hall, a recital hall, black box theater and art gallery. A concept plan and cost estimate were developed for the project last year.
The new Center for the Arts will help elevate awareness of USM’s superb reputation in music, theater and the visual arts. Among the university’s many notable alumni is Tony Shalhoub ’77, who serves as the honorary chair of the Center for the Arts Leadership Committee. Shalhoub is a three-time Emmy winner and recent Tony Award recipient for his role in the Broadway musical, The Band’s Visit. Co-chairing the Leadership Committee are Kate Cheney Chappell ’83, Bonnie Porta ’80, and Larry Rubinstein.
"This inspirational leadership gift is the catalyst for transformational changes on our Portland campus," said Ainsley Wallace, President and CEO of the USM Foundation. "With bold and exciting initiatives such as the Center for the Arts, we are significantly enhancing the student experience at USM and growing into the great university our great city of Portland deserves."
(Image shown for the Center is an early conceptual rendering done by Scott Simons Architects).