Long envisioned as a critically important element for Folsom Lake College, the visual and performing arts center was initially conceived as a facility to instruct, develop, and guide talented students to become actors, musicians, dancers, visual artists, and behind-the-curtain technicians. The scope and size of the Center expanded significantly with a 2003 feasibility study which validated the need for a facility that could also serve as a regional arts center for the greater community.
In 2004 the project proposal approved by the Los Rios Board of Trustees was submitted to the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office for final funding approval in the 2005-06 budget year. Construction of the $50 million project began in July 2008 supported by a State Educational Facilities General Obligation Bond, Local Measure A Bond, other District resources, and donations to the Folsom Lake College Foundation.
In February, 2011 the Center opened as "Three Stages at Folsom Lake College" and by the end of its second full season it had already attracted over 300,000 patrons to its offerings. In August, 2012, the Los Rios District Board of Directors announced the renaming of the facility to the "Harris Center for the Arts," honoring Chancellor Emeritus Brice Harris who, during his tenure, oversaw a doubling of the size of the District, including the development of Folsom Lake College. He, together with then President of the College Thelma Scott-Skillman, was perhaps most responsible for seeing the vision of a Regional Performing Arts Center for the community realized.