Campaign Update

Stage Struck

Spring 2010 performance of Antigone at the Reed College Mainstage Theatre. From left: Dominic Finocchiaro ’11, Stephen Bennett ’11, and Jason King ’11. Photo by Orin Zyvan ’04

Parents and the Performing Arts

By Randall S. Barton

Jackhammers are pounding and construction crews are busy pouring the foundation of Reed’s new $28 million home for the performing arts. Even as the building takes shape, however, the college is working to bridge the $3.3 million gap that still remains in the project’s financing. Fortunately, the project has attracted strong proponents from an unexpected quarter: parents.

“Parents are an essential source of support and encouragement to the college, most obviously in entrusting their son or daughter to Reed, but also by serving as trustees, members of the Parent Council, career counselors, and donors,” says President Colin Diver. “They bring a unique perspective because they see firsthand the impact the college has had on their son or daughter’s intellectual and personal development. Parental support is therefore a particularly valued endorsement of what we do.”

Gretchen Shugart and Jon Maurer both come from families with an abiding passion for the arts, which is one reason they gave money for the new building. Another reason is their daughter, English major Stephanie Maurer ’14. “I believe that our schools follow us around for the rest of our lives,” Shugart says. “It’s in our interest and our daughter’s interest for her school to be respected and recognized as the great institution it is.”

Shugart runs, a New York–based company that provides technology to theatres and venues across the country. “All people, whether they realize it or not, benefit from the arts every day,” she says. “They give us reason to get up.”

A small college, she says, must pick its spots. If Reed chooses to teach the arts, it must have facilities that meet the needs of today’s students. “In my experience, good architecture stimulates creativity,” Shugart says. “There is something really wonderful about this performing arts facility at Reed. If you give people bases to meet and collaborate, both formally and informally, really wonderful things can come of that.”

Linda Finocchiaro grew up in the arts. Her mother was Bonita Granville—who starred as Nancy Drew in four films of the 1930s—and her father, Jack Wrather, produced television series such as The Lone Ranger and Lassie. Linda’s husband, Anthony, is also an actor; their son, literature-theatre major Dominic Finocchiaro ’11, graduated this year.

“Dominic loved his days at Reed,” Linda says, “It was transformative. But there was always a problem with the lack of rehearsal space. With the new facility there will be more opportunities for independent, impromptu performances that the kids put on for no more reason than the love of doing so.”

Linda looks forward to the day when the 450-seat proscenium theatre is added to the building. Planned as a second phase of the project, the proscenium theatre can begin construction when an additional $10 million has been raised through gifts.

“Reed is a phenomenal school,” Linda says, explaining why she made her gift. “I was motivated to make it even better, so that more people can get more out of it.”

Danny Sellers ’13 was a junior in high school when his parents, Joe and Laurie Sellers, began taking him to see colleges near their home in Washington, D.C. “They’re all nice schools,” Danny told them, “but the one I really want to go to is Reed.”

Joe is now the chair of the Reed College Parent Council, and though Danny is a political science major, his musical gifts include singing and playing piano. “Our interest in contributing to this building is to follow Danny’s interests and to show support for Colin Diver,” says Joe. “I’ve been really taken by Colin’s passion, vision, and views as an educator. I know this project has been something he’s cared a great deal about and invested energy in trying to secure.”

Half of the construction cost for phase I is being financed with bonds, and the other half will come in the form of gifts, of which $10.7 million has been raised.

“When parents contribute to the performing arts building, or make an endowment gift,” Diver says, “they make it possible for Reed to continue to provide future generations with the benefits that their son or daughter has received.”