Signature's Schaeffer Gets D.C. Cultural Alliance Award

News   Signature's Schaeffer Gets D.C. Cultural Alliance Award
Eric Schaeffer, artistic director of Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, will be among the recipients of The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington's Founders Awards on May 23.

Schaeffer, whose two-venue not-for-profit presents new musicals and plays, as well as lauded revivals of works, will receive the honor in the category of Arts Founder. Schaeffer's next Signature show is the American premiere of the musical The Witches of Eastwick.

The awards are presented annually to individuals, organizations, and businesses that have been outstanding contributors to the cultural life of the Washington metropolitan region.

The evening gala will take place at JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The other awards for 2007 will be presented to Jane Lang, trustee of the Sprenger.Lang Foundation and founder of the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Northeast Washington DC, for Distinguished Service to the Arts; and The Gazette community newspapers of Maryland for Business Arts Patron.

Schaeffer is the co-founder and artistic director of Signature Theatre. In 1989, Signature opened as part of the Arlington Arts Incubator program, with 126 subscribers. Three years later, Signature renovated and moved into a garage space on Arlington's Four Mile Run. The theatre now has over 5,000 subscribers, a $4.5 million budget, and recently opened a newly built, $16 million two-theatre complex in Shirlington Village. With 54 Helen Hayes Awards and 216 nominations to its credit, Signature was honored by the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation for "its artistic vision and commitment to the support and development of musical theatre artists." Signature has presented more than 20 world premiere productions, and was recently awarded a $1 million grant from The Shen Family Foundation for the creation of The American Musical Voices Project, a program consisting of Composer Grants and Leadership Awards.

Schaeffer has won four Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Direction, and his musical productions have received six Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Musical.

Honoree Jane Lang's work is described this way by the Alliance: "In an effort to find a suitable mid-sized venue for productions by emerging playwrights, Jane Lang visited the dilapidated Atlas Movie Theater on H Street Northeast, and a much more ambitious plan took shape: a performing arts complex with roots in the community, which would become both a local and regional hub for the arts. Since 2001, Lang, a former attorney, has devoted herself full-time to the development of the non-profit Atlas Performing Arts Center. As Chair of the Atlas Board and of the Atlas Capital Campaign, she has raised over $17.6 million to date. Now completely restored, the Atlas boasts four theatres, three dance studios, a café, great hall, conference/classrooms, dressing rooms, a scene shop, and offices. In 2005, she received the Bridge Builder's Award from Partners for Livable Communities for her work in the Near Northeast neighborhood where the Atlas is located."

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington's mission "is to sustain and increase regional leadership, appreciation, support and resources for arts and culture."

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