Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts & Education Hosts Virtual Opening

Community members and art enthusiasts joined Chesterfield County officials to celebrate the new Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts & Education during a virtual opening on December 19. DLR Group’s design provides new opportunities to engage in arts and culture in Chesterfield County, a region previously lacking a cultural resource.

classical style architecture with brick exterior and white columnsThe Baxter Perkinson Center for Arts & Education in Chester, Virginia by DLR Group. Photo by Virginia Hamrick. 

Perkinson Center, which is managed by the Chesterfield Cultural Arts Foundation, provides patrons with modern amenities in an intimate space to enjoy a variety of arts and cultural events. It consists of the 354-seat Jimmy Dean Theater, the Baxter & Elaine Perkinson Gallery, a classroom for educational activities, and a multipurpose space equipped for large meetings, rehearsals, and ballroom functions that opens to a semi-enclosed outdoor courtyard.

"Perkinson Center is a robust arts facility that will serve as a valuable resource for local arts programs, and will provide multiple opportunities for revenue generation," said DLR Group Senior Principal Paul Westlake, FAIA, IIDA. “The building design also complements the character of Chester Village and the adjacent Chester Public Library, further establishing its roots as a premier destination and community asset.”

DLR Group's design combines key acoustical elements with exceptional sightlines, a modern orchestra pit, and advanced technical systems to enhance the patron and performer experience. To maximize the acoustical performance, DLR Group incorporated a low-noise HVAC system, dedicated audio mix position in a prime location within the audience chamber, and an efficient building layout that separates key noisy areas to allow for simultaneous use of spaces. The theater also features a 21-lineset rigging system that allows for maximum flexibility in theatrical scene management, as well as stage lighting controls to boost artist creativity and patron delight.  

“This grand opening is much different than what we all originally had in mind. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not only our responsibility to show up for our community right now, but our promise to do so. Thanks to our generous sponsors and donors we can entertain our community, virtually, so that you are safe at home and still connected to and thriving through the arts,” said Marly Fuller, Perkinson Center Executive Director.

Watch the virtual opening performance on YouTube.