When Steve Lerian sat in the audience for the first time, it was a cathartic experience.
A line up, including Broadway’s Bernadette Peters, had brought his hard work to fruition.
“It was a big deal for us, considering we’d never had anything in the theater,” said Lerian, Kirkland Performance Center’s executive director, of the center’s opening day 10 years ago. “It was very gratifying because we’d all killed ourselves to get this done and many times didn’t think it would happen.”
Since then, audiences have been amazed at the intimacy that KPC provides and the quality of artists that Lerian has strived to bring to Kirkland.
Yesterday, Lerian celebrated his last day as executive director of KPC.
Lerian resigned as he accepted a position as director of Cal Poly Arts, the arts presenting program at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
“I ain’t no spring chicken anymore as they say,” Lerian joked. He looks at the new oppurtunity as one last new challenge.
Mary Pat Byrne, arts specialist for the City of Bellevue, said Lerian has made a difference in the arts not only on the Eastside, but also regionally. Both Byrne and Lerian helped found the Eastside Arts Coalition. In addition, Lerian served as board president of the Washington State Arts Alliance and on the legislative committee.
“This is a guy who will serve on any committee,” Byrne said of Lerian. “He is always ready to roll up his sleeves.”
Kirkland City Manager Dave Ramsey referred to Lerian as the “heart and soul” of KPC.
“He has brought in some high quality, diverse performance and kept KPC in a unique place in the whole entertainment market,” Ramsey said. “We thank him for all he’s done and we’re going to miss him.”
Lerian said his new opportunity means managing both a 500-seat and 1,300 seat auditorium, much different than the 400-seat auditorium at KPC.
While he looks forward to moving closer to his mother, who lives in Los Angelos, he said it will be a difficult move.
“I have a lot of ties here,” he said. “Leaving is going to be in many ways sad and many ways invigorating.”
He urged the community to continue to care for the Kirkland Performance Center.