Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater renamed to honor donor

The Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in downtown Medford has been renamed The Craterian Theater at The Collier Center for the Performing Arts, in recognition of a major donation from James Collier. (Correction: This story has been updated to include the entire new name.)

While the amount of the donation was not released, Stephen McCandless, executive director of Craterian Performances, said it was the largest ever received by the theater. The previous largest single amount donated was $200,000, he said.

For Collier, who lives in Medford, this will be the second local theater to bear his name. The Camelot Theatre in Talent is now housed in the James Morrison Collier Theatre Building, following Collier's donation of $300,000 to the theater's move into new quarters.

"It is only fitting," McCandless said in a press release announcing the renaming of the theater. "Who he is and what he means to the arts in Southern Oregon is immeasurable. We are honored, grateful and proud that the Rogue Valley's most prominent arts philanthropist is investing so generously in Craterian Performances."

Collier previously donated a grand piano to the Craterian and paid for the recent conversion of its marquee to LED technology. He also has donated to numerous other performing arts venues and groups, including the Rogue Valley Symphony, Rogue Valley Chorale and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Collier is a retired teacher who inherited most of his money.

Collier's latest donation is unrestricted, so the theater company may use it as it chooses. McCandless said the details on where the money will be directed have not been worked out.

McCandless said the Medford theater still plans to honor legendary actress and dancer Ginger Rogers by naming its stage after her. Rogers lived in the Rogue Valley during her later life and had performed on the Craterian stage as a young performer. The theater was given her name when it reopened in recognition of her contributions to the arts, but she was not a donor to the theater and there was no stipulation that the name remain.

The theater was originally built in 1924 and first presented plays and Vaudeville acts on its stage. It was later converted to a movie house but fell into disrepair before being donated to the Rogue Valley Art Association and eventually restored into a performing arts theater.

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