In the world of concert halls and performing arts centers, naming rights have usually been honors bestowed on bearers of large cash gifts.
The most telling example in this region came more than a decade ago when UC Davis named the Mondavi Center in honor of Robert and Margrit Mondavi for their $10 million gift that helped make the building a reality.
The trustees of the Los Rios Community College District, in bestowing a new name on the Three Stages performing arts complex at Folsom Lake College, took a different route. It recently announced that the $50 million center is to be renamed the Harris Center for the Performing Arts in honor of recently retired Los Rios Chancellor Brice W. Harris.
Harris, who led the community college system for 16 years before he retired Aug. 31, has been widely lauded for his stewardship during a time of expansion. Los Rios, the state's second-largest community college system, includes Folsom Lake, American River, Cosumnes River and Sacramento City colleges.
A lifelong supporter of the arts, Harris was a key player in establishing the idea that a regional performing arts center was a logical step at the Folsom college.
"It was really his vision that planted the seed for a performing arts center at Folsom Lake," said Ruth Scribner, one of seven members of the board of trustees at Los Rios.
"The board was unanimous and emphatic that this was a fitting tribute to Harris, especially in light of the fact that Brice started his career as a faculty member in the performing arts."
Harris, born in Oklahoma City, began his educational career nearly 40 years ago as a theater arts professor.
Three Stages, a regional magnet for the performing arts, had hoped to sell naming rights to the center and two of its performance spaces but had not found any takers, said Scribner.
It has been estimated that the naming rights could bring as much as $3 million to the center.
At Mondavi, executive director Don Roth lauds the Folsom renaming despite the perception of lost naming-rights revenue.
"Harris has been a wonderful force in our region and I was very pleased to hear about Three Stages being named for him. Obviously he was a big mover behind that complex becoming a reality," said Roth.
"When you name a building for someone who was so instrumental in its creation, you really can't put a price on it. In a case like this, it's just the right thing to do."
The center's draw as a regional arts center is its three performing halls: an 850-seat main theater, its 200-seat City Studio Theater, and a recital hall that seats 95.
A name has been assigned only to the City Studio Theatre in honor of the city of Folsom for its contributions to the center.
It was shortly after the building and completion of the Mondavi Center in 2002 that it became clear that a performing arts complex was needed in Folsom, said Harris. Originally, the idea was to build an arts teaching facility there, and nothing more.
"We asked the board, 'Why don't we do a feasibility study of the community and see if there is justification for a regional center?' " said Harris.
"Because when you think about it, the incremental difference between what we would build academically and what you would build to support a regional center might not be that great."
The board agreed, and Harris proved instrumental in a voter-approved bond measure to build it.
Before its February 2010 opening, Three Stages had targeted $2.5 million in ticket revenue for its first year. It brought in $2.75 million. Last season the center sold out more than half of its shows.
It is now the home base of the Folsom Symphony and the Sacramento Guitar Society, and has been a second home to the Sacramento Philharmonic and the Sacramento Ballet, among others.
An arts-endowment fund started by Harris and his wife, Barbara, has also been renamed in their honor.
The nearly $300,000 endowment fund is designed to allocate more than $12,000 per year for arts- related projects in the Los Rios Community College District, Harris said.
"We actually started that fund with a party in our backyard 12 years ago to raise money for the arts," Harris said.
Since then nine such endowment parties have been held. Half of the proceeds is spent on arts programs in the district and the other half is put into the endowment, Harris said.
Although the name change at Three Stages has been officially announced, the transition will not be immediate, said David Pier, executive director of Three Stages.
"The rollout of the new name will take a year or two," Pier said. "It will demand new signage. And in terms of marketing materials those are already out for this season.
"But as regards the new name, you will see it by next season."