Sacramento region creating its own future in arts and entertainment

150 150 Susan Lovenburg

“Pictured is one idea of what a new complex may look like, but it does not represent a proposed design.” – City of Sacramento

We at California Forward believe government must be accountable to everyday Californians, who are both its constituents and its greatest resource.

That’s why California Forward is pushing for innovations through its action fund, like the Government Performance and Accountability Act, that make it easier for citizens to see if government is using its resources efficiently and effectively. 

We’re talking to the best and the brightest Californians to investigate solutions to this and other challenges.  

We’ve found more than solutions, we’ve found inspiration. If the state’s Forward Thinkers are any indication, California is still great. It’s time for California’s government to reflect the passion, drive, and commitment of its people.

Richard Lewis, executive producer of the California Musical Theatre, and the 2012 winner of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership VIBE (Visionary Innovators in Building Excellence) Award, is one of those Forward Thinkers.  

Richard Lewis was destined for a life in the theater. He’s the son of Russell Lewis, who in 1951 co-founded Music Circus – now known as Sacramento’s acclaimed California Musical Theatre (CMT). CMT is the city’s oldest professional performing arts organization and the largest nonprofit musical theatre in the state. 

But Lewis also sees the broader perspective. He is a businessman, who has forged alliances with the city and county of Sacramento to bolster not only the arts community but the local economy.

In 2003, CMT collaborated with Wells Fargo and the city and county to build a new venue. The 2,200-seat Wells Fargo Pavilion opened to rave reviews, replacing CMT’s old home in a big canvas tent and allowing the theatre to attract more than 300,000 people a year to downtown Sacramento. 

Lewis said the partnership succeeded, thanks to trust, flexibility, willingness and determination.

City leaders are counting on these same qualities to help them realize their newest vision: an entertainment and sports complex in downtown Sacramento. 

At last Tuesday’s State of the Downtown Breakfast, Mayor Kevin Johnson described the project as transformative and catalytic for economic development.

Despite the recent blow dealt by the Supreme Court ruling that dissolved redevelopment agencies, Johnson told an audience of 500 civic leaders, “We are going to find a way to go forward.”

“We have got to embrace the future of downtown.”

Richard Lewis concurs with that sentiment.  “Every region needs a heart. The heart of Sacramento is downtown. We need to keep the heart beating.”

Read Richard’s Lewis’ full profile here.

Susan Lovenburg is Sacramento region partnerships coordinator for California Forward.


Susan Lovenburg

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