CHESTER – A recent $350,000 donation toward an arts center has brought the facility closer to reality.
The Chesterfield Cultural Arts Foundation announced Friday that Donna Meade Dean Stevens and Jayson Stevens made the donation in honor of country musician, TV show host and actor Jimmy Dean, Dean Stevens’ late husband.
As a result, a 350-seat theater will be named the “Jimmy Dean Theatre.”
The proposed “Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts” will be located in the Chester Village Green next to the Chester Library. The proposed 22,000-square-foot art center will also include a multipurpose room, outdoor patio, classroom, art gallery and lobby.
“We can’t say enough about the support we have received over this long process to bring a first class, nonprofit arts center to Chesterfield County,” foundation chair Hugh Cline said. “The [Stevenses] are the latest example of the generosity of the region for the betterment of the region. The entire CCAF Board is thrilled not only with the [Stevenses’] financial contribution but also the entertainment background and expertise they have to offer.”
Donna Stevens is a country music artist who married her childhood sweetheart Jayson in late 2012. She was married to Jimmy Dean from 1991 until he died in spring 2010. Baxter Perkinson Jr. is a well-known local artist who primarily uses watercolors and often donates them to individuals and nonprofits, Cline said.
He noted that through the generosity of Baxter and Elaine Perkinson, the Stevenses and others, the foundation is closing in on its fundraising goal of $3 million. The Perkinsons had earlier donated $1 million toward the projected $10 million-$12 million arts center.
The Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority plans to construct the arts center and lease it to the nonprofit foundation, Cline said. He added that the partnership is one of the largest public-private projects in county history.