Mission & History
We inspire and nurture a love of theatre and the arts.
Our goals include:
- The establishment and maintenance of a permanent multi-arts and theatre facility.
- The sponsorship and coordination of education and cultural programming in visual arts, theatre and community events.
Audiences enjoying the corporation's programming come from the Portland metropolitan area; Vancouver, Washington and the greater Willamette valley.
The Lakewood Theatre Company is a popular and financially successful member of the arts community, it is the cornerstone around which Lakewood Center for the Arts has been built. Lakewood Theatre Company began in November, 1952, when a group of Lake Oswego residents decided that their community was not complete without a theatre and decided to organize what was known as the Oswego Players. From that first production of Blithe Spirit, the players performed in junior and senior high schools and halls throughout the Lake Oswego area, having no permanent home during its first nine years.
In 1961, a fund drive was launched that led to the purchase of a vacant Methodist church on Greenwood Road. Beginning with Arsenic and Old Lace, the company, then known as Lake Oswego Community Theatre, staged more than 110 productions there before they outgrew the facility. By then the I00 seat theatre was continuously sold out, the building provided no room for class and rehearsal space, and off-stage storage was extremely limited.
When the Lakewood School became available in 1979, an advisory task force determined that acquiring the building would encourage people to learn, teach, display and, above all, participate in the arts. With this in mind, the Lakewood Theatre Company nonprofit corporation decided to expand its purposes and became the Lakewood Center for the Arts.
A $1.1 million capital fund was established to purchase and renovate the school and put programs on line. After eight years, in 1987, the goal was realized and the final payment was made to the school board. The funds came from individuals, businesses, corporations, foundations and civic groups. None of the money came from city, state or federal sources.
In the fall of 1990 the theatre company changed its name from Lake Oswego Community Theatre to Lakewood Theatre Company. The name change was instituted to more closely identify the theatre with the programs at the Center and its mission of providing high quality entertainment and education.
In November, 2003 Lakewood completed a $3 million project to build a new stage house for Lakewood Theatre Company. The new auditorium features 220 seats with none further than 35 feet from the stage, a new stage house with fly lofts, traps and a new hearing-assisted sound system. Theatre programs now enjoy an average 85-90% sell out rate, mostly from pre-sold subscription packages.
The Center is run by an elected board of directors made up of community leaders, legal, business and arts professionals, and a small staff which includes Executive Director Andrew Edwards and Executive Producer Steve Knox.
The key to operating the Center, however, is the support of volunteers. According to Edwards, 400-500 volunteers are needed to make things work, in all areas from office work to the daily running of the individual organizations to the physical labor that went into renovating the building.
Lakewood Theatre Company, as the parent non-profit, is the oldest and best known of the building’s occupants, and key to the Center’s financial success. Lakewood is the oldest continually operated not for profit theatre company in the Portland metro area and attracts more than 40,000 people to its shows.
Other tenants at the Center include the Dance Studio, home of classes in Danceaerobics, exercise, and ballet; tap, and jazz by area instructors, Lakewood Entryway Gallery, a regional display and sales gallery of art work in our main foyer; the Community Arts Pre-School, offering 3 and 4 year olds a program enriched with art and dance; the Children’s Theatre, a small studio theatre used for classes; and the Children’s Art Studio, offering display space for art and classroom space for short term use. The Center also houses ReRuns - Secondhand Treasures, is a resale shop originated and staffed by the Lakewood Associates, a support auxiliary of the Center. Volunteers collect donated merchandise and re-sell them to the public. The proceeds are used to renovate and improve the building
Downstairs is the Community Meeting Room, sponsored by an $80,000 renovation grant from the Lake Oswego Rotary Club. The hall seats up to 150 people for wedding receptions, banquets, cabaret theatre, conferences, and Rotary luncheons. Also downstairs is the Costume Workroom, providing storage and workspace for Lakewood Theatre Company productions.
An annual June event at the Center is the Festival of the Arts. This event occurs the weekend after Father's Day each June. This city-wide celebration is a arts education program created, staged and administered by the Lakewood Center. It enjoys the volunteer and financial support of multiple civic groups, volunteer organizations and the City of Lake Oswego. More than 23,000 people attend exhibits at the Center and the park and view more than 1,500 pieces of artwork. Artists come from Oregon, Washington, California, and Idaho to participate.
Fundraising is a continuing activity realized through contributions, gifts-in-kind, special projects, and the proceeds of the resale shop. The combined operating budget for the LTC and Lakewood Center is $1.9 million per year. Income from ticket sales, fees, classes, room rentals, and special events cover about 70% of total expenses, an unusually high percentage for arts centers by national standards. The balance comes from contributions.
Lakewood is grateful for the yearly season support from the following:
- Oregon Arts Commission
- Regional Arts & Culture Council
- Work For Art
- National Enowment for the Arts
- The James F & Marion L. Miller Foundation
- Media support: OregonLive - The Oregonian
The LTC/Lakewood Center is a 501(c)(3) not for profit, tax exempt organization and your contribution is tax deductible to the extent provided by law. We welcome your support! Come be a part of our success. Our non-profit number is 93-0700108.
Board of Directors (2019-20)
Jeanne Denton, President
Joann Frankel, Treasurer
- David Avison
- Ryan Birge
- Fred Breuer
- Linda Brown
- Jan Coulton
- Elaine Franklin
- Joan Freed
- Kelly Giampa
- Cyndie Glazer
- Nancy Hawkins
- Ken Hick
- Lisa Hilty
- Don Irving
- Steve Jurney
- Jeff Kantor
- Joanne Kantor
- Dr. Ricky Korach
- Skip O'Neill
- Don Plumb
- Martha Schrader
- Aaron Nigel Smith
- Bill Warner
- Dee Denton