A.C.T. Successfully Completes $30 Million Dollar Fundraising Campaign
The Next Generation Campaign achieves goal ensuring strong financial foundation for artistic excellence and world-class actor training.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, January 4, 2010—American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is proud to announce the successful completion of The Next Generation Campaign, the theater's historic effort to create an endowment while sustaining artistic excellence and high quality actor training in these challenging economic times. Led by Campaign Committee Chair/Board of Trustees Vice Chair Nancy Livingston and Campaign Cabinet Chair/Board of Trustees Chair Emeritus Alan L. Stein, together with star of stage, film, and television and graduate of A.C.T.'s actor training conservatory Annette Bening, who served as chair of the Campaign Artistic Advisory Committee, The Next Generation Campaign raised $30,939,236 by its close at midnight on December 31, 2009. The Next Generation Campaign is one of the largest endowment campaigns undertaken by a theater company in the United States and the most significant fundraising effort in A.C.T.'s 44-year history.
The successful completion of this ambitious campaign is a rare accomplishment in the theater world and is due to the leadership of the members of A.C.T.'s board of trustees, many of whom made the largest gifts of their lives to the endeavor. Commitments to the campaign will establish A.C.T.'s first-ever endowment, increase the theater's producing capacity, and help make vital improvements to A.C.T.'s historic home, which is located near Union Square in the heart of San Francisco's theater district. The major objectives of the campaign were to provide support for artistic excellence on the mainstage (including A.C.T.'s first endowed core acting company position), for excellence in actor training (including A.C.T.'s first three endowed Master of Fine Arts Program scholarships) and for excellence in developing large-scale, visionary new works for the mainstage (including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fund for New Works) and for young actors in the conservatory (including the Craig Slaight New Plays Fund, named in honor of the beloved director of A.C.T.'s acclaimed Young Conservatory).
The success of The Next Generation Campaign also speaks to the generosity of the Bay Area philanthropic community and its regard for the unique role A.C.T. plays in the cultural landscape of the region. As one of the leading performing arts organizations in San Francisco and one of the first theater companies in the country to win a Tony Award, A.C.T. is known nationally for its impressive record of producing classics for the stage, developing and producing large-scale multidisciplinary new works, and for its multigenerational theatrical training programs. Despite its rich legacy and status as a cultural, educational, and economic catalyst for the entire Bay Area, the company was without an endowment until the launch of the campaign in 2005 and relied solely on annual income from ticket sales, tuition, and contributions to sustain its season programming and actor training. Thanks to the 3,600 donors, including 115 "Leadership Donors" who made commitments of $25,000 or more to The Next Generation Campaign, A.C.T. has built a solid financial foundation upon which the theater can forge new artistic paths and reach new audiences through a deep and wide-ranging series of initiatives.
"We are gratified by the outpouring of support to The Next Generation Campaign from our community, especially in these challenging economic times. As San Francisco's flagship theater company, A.C.T. has always been able to count on the generosity of the Bay Area's philanthropic community, and its significant investment in A.C.T. today will pay huge dividends in the future," says A.C.T. Board of Trustees Chair Emeritus Alan L. Stein, who as The Next Generation Campaign Cabinet Chair led the early fundraising for the campaign. A longtime supporter and friend of A.C.T. with more than two decades of volunteer service to the company, Stein also led the successful capital campaign to rebuild the Geary Theater after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Under Stein's leadership, more than $13 million had been committed by A.C.T.'s board of trustees and closest friends before the campaign was announced to the public on March 22, 2006, at a launch party held in the company's prop and scene shop south of Market Street in San Francisco.
The Next Generation Campaign Committee Chair and A.C.T. Board of Trustees Vice Chair Nancy Livingston adds: "It was truly an honor for me to lead the public phase of this campaign, because I believe so strongly that A.C.T. deserves the same level of community embrace as our sister performing arts institutions who have had endowments for years. Today A.C.T. is poised for even greater artistic achievements thanks to the financial foundation we have put in place through The Next Generation Campaign. The campaign committee and I could not be more pleased." Livingston and the committee were charged with taking the campaign out into the community and engaging A.C.T.'s large family of subscribers, donors, and audience members in contributing to the campaign. Originally conceived as a $25 million initiative to establish an endowment, early fundraising success gave A.C.T.'s board of trustees the courage to dream bigger and increase the campaign goal to $30 million in September 2007.
"What is thrilling about endowment is that it's about the future," says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. "Through the visionary leadership of Nancy Livingston, Alan Stein, and Annette Bening, and the generosity of a huge community of donors, A.C.T.'s future is extremely bright." Perloff speaks to the long-term effect of The Next Generation Campaign on the day-to-day life of A.C.T.: "Our remarkable M.F.A. Program students will receive the scholarship and faculty support so crucial to their growth and development. Our ability to take major creative risks onstage with such world-class artists as John Doyle, Robert Wilson, Ping Chong, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Tom Stoppard, and so many more, will grow immeasurably. And our passion for enriching the lives of our audiences through educational initiatives, rich programming, and community outreach will be nurtured. The Next Generation Campaign allows A.C.T. to commit to long-term artistic programming, take important creative risks, and sustain the artists, students, and staff who make us such a unique and vital institution. We are deeply grateful to every single individual who contributed to its success."
A.C.T. expanded the scope of the campaign to include support for current programs and capital improvements in the fall of 2008 and aggressively sought increased commitments from current campaign donors, as well as new gifts from a number of close friends of the theater who rallied around A.C.T. in the face of the economic recession. This final leadership phase of the campaign, known as the Bridge Initiative, has helped to ensure that A.C.T. remains vibrant and strong during this recessionary period and has enabled the Campaign Committee to meet its ambitious goal during one of the most difficult fundraising periods in recent history.
Lead donors to The Next Generation Campaign at the $2 million and above level include prominent Bay Area foundations with a commitment to the arts, including The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Bernard Osher Foundation, as well as philanthropists Burt and Deedee McMurtry and Jeff and Laurie Ubben. Deedee McMurtry and Jeff Ubben are both members of the A.C.T. Board of Trustees. Other distinguished supporters at the $1 million and above level include Ray and Dagmar Dolby, James and Jean Douglas, and Ruth and Alan L. Stein. Dagmar Dolby, Jean Douglas, and Alan Stein are former trustees of A.C.T. and continue their active involvement with the company. In addition to these munificent individual and foundation supporters, American Express has made a generous grant to the campaign in support of the restoration of the façade of the American Conservatory Theater in anticipation of the theater's 100th birthday in January 2010.
A.C.T. will celebrate the successful completion of The Next Generation Campaign on Friday evening, January 8, 2010, at a leadership dinner for donors who have made commitments of $25,000 and more, hosted by Artistic Director Carey Perloff and the Campaign Committee. Held in the beautiful American Conservatory Theater, the black tie affair will include an unveiling of the campaign wall of honor, which will recognize leadership donors in perpetuity, an elegant dinner on the stage, and a special surprise performance. For more information about The Next Generation Campaign, please visit www.act-sf.org/ngc.
American Conservatory Theater is a Tony Award–winning theater and educational institution dedicated to nurturing the art of live theater through dynamic productions, intensive actor training in its conservatory, and an ongoing dialogue with its community. A.C.T. embraces its responsibility to conserve, renew, and reinvent its relationship to the rich theatrical traditions and literatures that are our collective legacy, while exploring new artistic forms and new communities. A commitment to the highest standards informs every aspect of A.C.T.'s creative work. Founded in 1965, A.C.T. opened its first San Francisco season at the historic Geary Theater in 1967; more than 320 productions have since been performed to a combined audience of more than seven million people. Today A.C.T. is recognized nationally for its groundbreaking productions of classical works and bold explorations of contemporary playwriting, honored with a Tony Award for outstanding theater performance and training (1979) and the prestigious Jujamcyn Theaters Award (1996). The first actor training program in the United States not affiliated with a college or university accredited to award a master of fine arts degree, A.C.T.'s conservatory has moved to the forefront of America's actor training programs, while serving as the creative engine of the company at large.