Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts

Fall-Winter 2004
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Marketing & Communications,
Strategic Planning
Organization Type
Arts & Culture,
Government or Public Services


First opened in 1990, the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts attracts over a quarter-million visitors every year and houses three theaters and the Bedford Art Gallery. The Center offers a variety of productions, including dramatic and musical theater, dance, opera, children’s theater, a speaker series, and rotating art exhibits. The Center is owned by the City of Walnut Creek, which provides financial support. Center Rep, an anchor performing group, is also funded by the City.


Located in Contra Costa County, the City of Walnut Creek is home to approximately 66,000 residents with a claim to fame that it owns more open space per capita than any other community in California. The city, working in partnership with the community, is committed to enhancing the quality of life by promoting a positive environment where people live, work, and play; a vibrant local economy to enhance and sustain long-term fiscal stability; and a progressive workplace where dedicated employees make a difference.

Project Objectives

ACT was commissioned to help develop a strategic plan for the Center based upon the recommendations presented in the Arts Vision Task Force report. The Task Force report was used by the team as a foundation for the broader perspective. The Task Force was composed of key user stakeholders. Specifically, the ACT Team focused on the Center and its supporting and performing organizations, with an emphasis on overall revenue generation and marketing.

Project Overview

The ACT team conducted a review and analysis of the Task Force report, as well as interviews of key stakeholders and others within the industry whose input the team felt would be enlightening. The team then completed an assessment of competitive facilities and attendance trends in the arts and an analysis of available documentation.

Key Recommendations

  • Governance and management should define the role of the center as either: a facility for community performing organizations or a regional center responsive to the demographics of the patrons
  • Establish realistic goals, review marketing programs (to performing groups and patrons) of similar venues, and identify geography focus
  • Avoid fundraising programs that might compromise individual efforts by performing arts organizations and create a development framework that can be used as a template by others to avoid conflicts
  • Improve communication and address concerns of performing arts organizations
  • Make structural enhancements to visitor experience

Final Report Outline

Data and observations of entertainment venues including the following:

  • City
  • Center Rep
  • Performing groups
  • DRAA
  • Area demographics
  • Task force report
  • Marketing
  • Summary


  • Financial information for the Center
  • Information regarding the operation of an entertainment venue (Marin Center)