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Thursday, 05 April 2012 12:05

The Irene Diamond Fund Donates $10 Million to Signature Theatre

Signature Theatre Company
THE IRENE DIAMOND FUND

DONATES $10 MILLION TO SIGNATURE THEATRE 

GIFT WILL BE RECOGNIZED WITH NAMING OF THE LARGEST THEATRE
IN THE PERSHING SQUARE SIGNATURE CENTER

New York, NY (April 5, 2012) – Signature Theatre (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director) announced today that the Irene Diamond Fund has made a $10 million gift in support of The Pershing Square Signature Center, the Company’s new, permanent home which opened on January 31, 2012. In recognition of the Irene Diamond Fund's gift, the Center’s largest theatre, the 299-seat End Stage Theatre, currently the home of Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque, will be named "The Irene Diamond Stage."

{module ad_left_body}Spanning an entire city block at 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, The Pershing Square Signature Center is designed by Frank Gehry and features three intimate theaters, a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, and a public cafe and bookstore. The Center is envisioned to be both a theatre community hub and a neighborhood destination, and has been designed to foster interaction among playwrights, artistic collaborators, and the public. 

“The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center will serve as a lasting legacy to the city Irene loved and to its vibrant arts community,” said Jane Silver, President of the Irene Diamond Fund. “Irene believed deeply in providing artists with the support they need to create works of art and Signature Theatre is a model for fostering creative spirit and connecting artists with the larger community.”

Signature Theatre is distinguished for its pioneering programs that celebrate the playwright’s body of work. The Pershing Square Signature Center has enabled the 20-year old Company to expand its programming, introduce new initiatives, and build audiences. The Company presents up to nine plays each season at the Center, which serves as the artistic home for as many as 11 playwrights at any one time and has allowed Signature to expand its commitment to playwrights and foster a creative community that brings together audiences and theatre artists. The first three shows at the Center, Athol Fugard’s Blood Knot, Katori Hall’s Hurt Village, and Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque, have all sold out their initial runs, and the latter two shows were both extended.

“We are most grateful to the Irene Diamond Fund for this extraordinary commitment to Signature Theatre and The Pershing Square Signature Center,” said Signature Theatre Company’s Founding Artistic Director James Houghton. “Irene Diamond was a great visionary, making an indelible impact on the performing arts and the New York cultural community. With the naming of the Irene Diamond Stage. her legacy will be a source of inspiration to artists and audiences alike. We are deeply honored to have this beautiful new theatre bear her name.”

“The Irene Diamond Fund’s generous commitment is an extraordinary milestone for this campaign, and a moving tribute to the legacy of Irene Diamond.” said Signature Theatre Trustee and actor Edward Norton. “To have Frank Gehry’s iconic design for The Pershing Square Signature Center’s largest theatre associated with the magnanimous philanthropic spirit of Irene Diamond is incredibly fitting.  We are extremely proud to have The Irene Diamond Fund as partners in creating this cultural landmark, and want to extend our fullest gratitude to the trustees of the Fund for their leadership.”


Signature previously announced the naming of two of the three theatres at The Pershing Square Signature Center, “The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre” in honor of scholar and educator Alice Griffin and “The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre” in honor of Signature’s founding playwright-in-residence, Romulus Linney, named by Signature Theatre Board Trustee Margot Adams, in memory of Mason Adams.

About SIGNATURE THEATRE

Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature Theatre exists to honor and celebrate the playwright.  Signature makes an extended commitment to a playwright’s body of work, and during this journey, the writer is engaged in every aspect of the creative process.  Signature is the first theatre company to devote an entire season to the work of a single playwright, including re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres. By championing in-depth explorations of a living playwright’s body of work, the Company delivers an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright’s singular vision.

Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, the Negro Ensemble Company, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, August Wilson and Lanford Wilson.  Signature remains deeply committed to season-long residencies, and during the company’s tenth and fifteenth anniversaries, Signature introduced the Legacy Program.  The Legacy Program invites past Playwrights-in-Residence back to Signature through two series: the Signature Series, which presents “signature,” or more well-known works; and the Premiere Series, which presents New York and world premieres.

Signature, its productions and its resident writers have been recognized with a Pulitzer Prize, fourteen Lucille Lortel Awards, sixteen Obie Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and twenty-two AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions. The National Theatre Conference recognized the company as the 2003 Outstanding National Theatre of the Year. For more information on Signature please visit us on-line at signaturetheatre.org.

About THE IRENE DIAMOND FUND

The Irene Diamond Fund was created and funded by noted philanthropists Irene and Aaron Diamond (who are both deceased). The Fund supports many charitable causes and to date has distributed more than $400 million in advancement of public health and public policy, including AIDS prevention and research, human rights and the performing arts.

About THE PERSHING SQUARE SIGNATURE CENTER

The Pershing Square Signature Center is the new, permanent home of Signature Theatre.  Spanning an entire city block at 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center features three intimate theatres, a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, and a public café and bookstore and will serve as both a theatre community hub and neighborhood destination. Working hand-in-hand with Signature leadership and architect of record H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture LLC, Gehry’s design has been carefully calibrated to foster interaction among playwrights, artistic collaborators and the public. The Pershing Square Signature Center allows the 20-year old Company, critically acclaimed for its programs that celebrate the playwright’s body of work, to expand and enhance its programming, introduce new initiatives, and build audiences.

At The Pershing Square Signature Center, the Company’s expanded programming includes: Residency One, the continuation of Signature’s core program which provides audiences with an immersive exploration of the work of a singular playwright; Residency Five, which provides five-year residencies for multiple playwrights, guaranteeing three full productions of new work over the course of each playwright’s residency; and the Legacy Program, which honors the lifetime achievement of playwrights who have previously been in residence at Signature through the production of a premiere or earlier play.   The Pershing Square Signature Center serves as the artistic home for as many as 9 playwrights at any one time, fostering a dynamic creative community where playwrights will engage directly with audiences and one another.

As part of the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that guarantees affordable and accessible tickets to every Signature production for the next 20 years, tickets to the initial runs of all productions during the inaugural season at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $25. Serving as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country, the Initiative was founded in 2005 and is made possible by a lead gift from The Pershing Square Foundation with supplemental support from the Ford Foundation, Margot Adams, Time Warner Inc., the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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