Ford Foundation Presents Public Theater With $2 Million Grant

News   Ford Foundation Presents Public Theater With $2 Million Grant
 
The Ford Foundation has awarded the Public Theater a $2 million grant to complete work on the $40 million renovation of its Lafayette Street home, which is aiming for a summer 2012 completion.

The announcement was made during the Oct. 26 event "A Celebration of The Public Theater" at the Ford Foundation, which included a screening of the documentary "Joe Papp in Five Acts" by Tracie Holder and Karen Thorsen.

On hand for the event were Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Suzan-Lori Parks and Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis.

The Public will unveil its renovations in fall 2012, which will include the renaming of its lobby as the Ford Foundation Lobby.

"The foundation has long supported the institutions and organizations that create New York City's rich and vibrant cultural landscape," Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas said in a statement. "The Public Theater’s commitment to new ideas, it’s emphasis on openness and public access, and the strength of its artistic leadership have made it an enduring New York treasure. We are committed to doing everything we can to help the city’s cultural organizations emerge from this economic crisis stronger than ever."

The Public Theater broke ground on renovations of the 158-year-old Astor Library, which has served as its residence since 1967, in March 2010. The expansive renovations transform the lobby and entryway of the building, including a new mezzanine lounge that will overlook the current lobby area and an increase in the size of the lobby by an additional 468 square feet. The redesign features a new centrally located box office, glass enclosures around the staircases leading into the lobby. The Public's historic façade, which will be completely restored, will feature a new glass canopied granite veranda, including an outer staircase and two ramps flanking the building to provide easier access for disabled patrons. The plans for the expanded entryway encroach on the current Lafayette Street sidewalk, so the Public and its architects have expanded the sidewalk to allow for pedestrian traffic. New poster boxes and lighting are being installed on street level as well.

Internal renovations include increased restrooms, as well as upgrades to the heating and air-conditioning systems. The Public's nightlife and music venue, Joe's Pub, recently underwent a summer renovation, and reopened its plush doors in early October.

The Public currently presents King Lear, starring Sam Waterston; as well as Mike Daisey's acclaimed monologue  The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs; and the Shakespeare Lab production of Love's Labor's Lost.

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Meryl Streep, Gail Merrifield Papp, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tracie Holder, Oskar Eustis, and Kevin Kline at the Ford Foundation screening of
Meryl Streep, Gail Merrifield Papp, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tracie Holder, Oskar Eustis, and Kevin Kline at the Ford Foundation screening of Photo by Simon Luethi
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