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Chester is getting a brand new 352-seat theater

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Ground was broken Monday on the Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts in Chester.

"What started out as a local initiative has become a regional opportunity," Hugh Cline, chairman of the Chesterfield Cultural Arts Foundation, said. "The entire region will benefit tremendously. It will be a first-class venue that everyone can look to with pride."

The center, located in the Chester Village Green, will house a 352-seat theater, an art gallery and classroom, and a performance patio.

"Our community has been anticipating this project for nearly three decades, and it’s a credit to the outstanding partnerships, cooperation and generosity we’ve experienced throughout the years that construction is finally underway," Dorothy Jaeckle, Bermuda District representative on the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors," said. "This facility will be a home to many of the area’s performing arts groups and a cultural hub for the community, a gathering place for our citizens and a destination for visitors across the region."

A dream, that civic leader, Betty Matthews made the focus of her final years on Earth. She died at 92, in 2018.

But her son, Barry Matthews, was at the groundbreaking Monday -- to see her dream become reality.

"My mother loved the arts and she loved community," said Matthews. "She was a voice an advocate, but none more so than building a center for the arts in Chesterfield."

Executive Director, Bruce Miller, said the new center will not only give more opportunities to artists, but audiences as well.

"It gives more opportunities to audiences that for whatever reason have been saying 'it's too hard to drive out of town, or go to all of the trouble to go far away, but now I have it in my own backyard, and I can be a part of it,'" said Miller.

Miller said the budget for the Center is about 16.9 million dollars. It's expected to be completed in the Fall of 2020.

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