When Myrtle Woldson, a 104-year-old Spokane philanthropist and businesswoman, died in 2014, she left Gonzaga University $55 million, the largest donation in university history. While $25 million went to a scholarship endowment, the other $30 million was used to fund the construction of the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center, which opened its doors on April 25.
The MWPAC features the Fr. Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J. Theater, which seats 759 people and the 168-seat Martin and Edwidge Woldson Recital Hall, named for Woldson’s parents. The Coughlin Theater is the main stage of the performing arts center, giving a home to GU productions from the music, theatre and dance departments.
“A New Season,” an interdisciplinary collaboration between music, dance and theater directed by Suzanne Ostersmith, was performed as the grand opening of the building on April 25. “A New Season” featured performers from different disciplines, poems written by local Spokane poets and an oratorio called “A Time to Dance” by composer Alec Roth. It symbolized the new season of performing arts brought to Spokane by the MWPAC.
As well as functioning as a performance venue, the MWPAC also features educational spaces for students. The performing arts design studio hosts classes like Interdisciplinary Arts and Scenic Design, and houses top of the line design equipment for students to learn on.
This fall, performances such as the Gonzaga Music Department Showcase, the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra Concert and the Gonzaga theatre and dance department’s “Romeo and Juliet” will go up on the main stage. The MWPAC is also a draw for professional performers such as Taylor 2 Dance Company, Dallas String Quartet Electric and Hiplet Ballerinas, who will also perform on the main stage.
This building provides a home for multiple departments and traveling professional artists. It also gives students and community members a place to grow knowledge, passion and appreciation for the arts.
More information about the upcoming season at the MWPAC can be found at: www.gonzaga.edu/myrtle-woldson-performing-arts-center/events.