NYC's Irish Rep Has $4.2 Million to Buy Its Home; Campaign Continues

News   NYC's Irish Rep Has $4.2 Million to Buy Its Home; Campaign Continues Off-Broadway's Irish Repertory Theatre has raised $4.2 million in gifts and pledges in a $6 million capital campaign to buy its current home on West 22nd Street in New York City, announced Ellen McCourt, chairperson of the Rep's board.

For the past year the Irish Repertory Theatre has been in the "quiet phase" of the capital fund-raising effort, called The Campaign for a Permanent Home, and has secured a number of leadership commitments. Francis J. Greenburger, president of Time Equities, Inc., has made a leadership gift of $1 million, and the theatre will honor his gift by naming its Mainstage space for him. Other major gifts and pledges include those from Ellen and Frank McCourt, Genevieve Smith, Susan Hynes McCallion, James and Ellen Hillman, Patricia Smith, the Dorothy Strelsin Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, I & J Brown Foundation, and the One World Foundation.

According to a Dec. 13 statement, "While still seeking additional leadership and major gifts, the Irish Repertory Theatre's Campaign for a Permanent Home will now be expanded to reach out to its broader member and donor base, and to other theatre supporters throughout the region and beyond. The Theatre is seeking gifts and grants at all levels to meet a deadline of December 2006, when the current lease expires."

The resident Equity company devoted to Irish-oriented or Irish-written plays is not in danger of immediately losing its home with the end of the lease.

Significant government support includes grants from the City of New York ($1.75 million), the Manhattan Borough President's Office ($500,000), various agencies of the State of New York ($300,000), and assembly member Richard N. Gottfried's Office ($50,000).

Prospective donors may contact the theatre by mail, phone (212) 255-0270, or through its website, www.irishrep.org. *

According to Irish Rep, "The theatre's purchase and campaign achievements to date comes at a critical juncture when performance spaces in New York are disappearing, with such notable theatres as the Promenade Theatre, Variety Arts, Perry Street Theatre, New Perspectives, Blue Heron, and Greenwich Theatre all losing their spaces to real estate development."

Ciarán O'Reilly, the Rep's producing director, noted, "The Irish Repertory Theatre is convinced that we, and other small and threatened theatres, make a vital and indispensable contribution to the cultural and economic fabric of New York City. Our goal of acquiring our facilities and thus continuing to grow artistically and institutionally is part of a larger effort by the city to maintain its international cultural leadership role. By owning our space, we want to strengthen our contribution to New York's continued cultural pre-eminence."

The goal of the campaign is to acquire the theatre's current space in Chelsea, where the theatre has operated two performance theatre spaces and rehearsal, production, and administrative facilities since 1995. The Irish Repertory Theatre leases the first and second floors and basement of the building, which the owner is converting into condominium properties.

Now that the building is being converted into condominiums, the Irish Repertory Theatre has taken an option to buy its current space with the goal of securing a permanent home for long into the future.

Negotiations with the landlord have been completed, with the closing expected before year-end.

The Campaign for a Permanent Home presents a number of named gift opportunities to honor leadership contributions. The box office will be named in recognition of the gift from Ellen and Frank McCourt and the concession area in honor of the Dorothy Strelsin Foundation. Other spaces offered for recognition include the theatre as a whole, the lobby, dressing rooms, and other areas.

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