Writers Theatre announces $31 million Campaign to establish a Theatre Center designed by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects Commitments exceed $22 million to date

1456541_10202322929176901_586614261_nWriters Theatre is pleased to announce the On To A New Stage Campaign, a $31 million fundraising campaign that will establish the nationally-recognized company’s new home – a theatre center designed by Chicago’s internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by principal Jeanne GangThe center, to be located on the site of the current Woman’s Library Club of Glencoe, will provide Writers Theatre with two intimate, state-of-the-art performance spaces under one roof, patron and artist amenities, and rehearsal and production space.  For more than two decades, Writers Theatre has been attracting enthusiastic audiences throughout Chicago and the country with its commitment to the artist and the written word.  The center will ensure Writers Theatre’s future as a cornerstone of the Chicagoland cultural community and strengthen its national reputation for the finest theatrical productions.

“Writers Theatre has been offering sophisticated productions and nurturing the finest dramatic artists in Chicago for over two decades.  With the creation of our new theatre center we will have a home that matches the quality of our art and allows us to make an even more significant investment in the artists who have been so integral to our success,” said Artistic Director Michael Halberstam.  “I think it is vital to take this moment to acknowledge the passion and commitment of our foundational donors who have simply taken my breath away with the scope of their generosity and vision in bringing this project to such a confident and significant launch.”

The sustainably-designed theatre center will replace two performance spaces that have long exceeded their maximum life span, and will allow the Theatre to uphold first-rate standards for both audiences and artists going forward.  Among the key features in the new center:

  • ·         A 250-seat theatre purposefully designed to maintain Writers Theatre’s hallmark intimacy;
  • ·         A 50 to 99-seat flexible theatre space that pays tribute to Writers Theatre’s first performance space at Books on Vernon in Glencoe;
  • ·         A “Theatre in a Park” atmosphere, with patron access to surrounding parks, outdoor rooftop terraces, landscaped and rooftop gardens, and beautifully integrated views of existing parks to the east and west;
  • ·         A spacious main lobby with seating tribunes that functions as a central gathering area, where patrons and students will enjoy supplementary artistic, family and educational programs; and
    • ·         A luminous grand gallery walk, structured entirely from wood by renowned engineer Peter Heppel, suspended around the lobby and serving as viewing area and “front porch” to the building

“Writers Theatre’s approach to the word and the artist mirrors Studio Gang’s focus on materials and the environment within architecture, and the results of our partnership have been very exciting,” said Jeanne Gang.  “The new theatre center features renewable materials and exciting social spaces that will add to the community’s vibrancy.”

The On To A New Stage Campaign has raised $22 million to date, with early lead support from a wide range of Chicagoland’s distinguished philanthropists, including:

  • ·         Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols, who have donated a gift of $5 million.  The 250-seat theatre will be named the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre in their honor.
  • ·         Alec and Jennifer Litowitz, who have donated a gift of $3 million.  The theatre center lobby will be named in their honor.
  • ·         Gillian and Ellis Goodman, who have donated a gift of $3 million.  The flexible 50 to 99-seat theatre will be named the Gillian Theatre.
  • ·         Mary Winton Green and the Green family, who have donated a gift of $2 million.  The rehearsal and special events room will be named for the Green family.
  • ·         Stephanie and Bill Sick, who have donated a gift of $1 million.  The rooftop terrace and garden will be named in honor of Stephanie and Bill Sick.
  • ·          An anonymous donor who has contributed a gift of $2 million.
  • ·         Generous contributions of $500,000 have also been committed by each of the following: Julie and Lawrence Bernstein, Harrison and Lois Steans, Mary Pat and Andy Studdert, and an anonymous donor.

“An amazing group has come together with a common understanding of Writers Theatre’s importance to Chicago and the nation, and with a desire to ensure the company’s future,” said Board President and Campaign Co-Chair Elaine Tinberg.  “The synergy of Jeanne Gang’s sophisticated design and Writers Theatre’s exceptional art make the theatre center very special.  There are iconic naming opportunities in this one-of-a-kind facility, and we now invite partners to join with us to realize this remarkable project.”

The estimated $31 million project cost includes: theatre center design and construction; transition costs, including additional theatre space rented during construction; an operating reserve for programs; and a project contingency.  The company also plans to grow its cash reserve fund to $3 million.  Writers Theatre anticipates that the 2013/14 Season will be its last in the Woman’s Library Club.  A groundbreaking will occur in fall 2014, with the opening of the new theatre center planned for early 2016.  The company will continue to raise funds for named gifts through 2014, and anticipates a broad-based public campaign in 2015.

“Writers Theatre’s new center has been developed in partnership with the Woman’s Library Club and the Village of Glencoe to build a strong sense of place and community and attract visitors to performances, restaurants, shops and open spaces,” said Executive Director Kathryn Lipuma.  “Along with the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Botanic Garden and Kohl Children’s Museum, our new home will help strengthen Chicago’s North Shore as a national destination for culture.”

The project has already been awarded a prestigious and highly-competitive National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” Grant, which recognizes civic collaborations that engage in creative place-making to enhance and revitalize their communities.  The NEA application was unanimously supported by local, state and federal government officials.

On To A New Stage Campaign leadership is reflective of Writers Theatre’s wide geographic reach, and includes:

  • ·         Honorary Co-Chairs Mary Winton Green, Jennifer and Alec Litowitz, and Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols;
  • ·         Co-Chairs Gillian and Ellis Goodman and Elaine and Richard Tinberg;
  • ·         Glencoe Co-Chairs Roberta Olshansky and Christopher and Sara Pfaff;
  • ·         North Shore Co-Chairs Stephanie and Bill Sick and Mary Pat and Andy Studdert;
  • ·         Chicago Co-Chairs Beth L. Kronfeld and Matthew D. Means and William and Amalia Mahoney; and
  • ·         Committee Members:  Janice and Philip Beck; Susan and Donald Belgrad; Julie and Lawrence Bernstein; Hersch and Avril Klaff; Emily and Christopher N. Knight; Dolores Kohl Kaplan; Jane and Richard Lipton; Lucy R. Minor; Laurie and Michael Petersen; Harrison and Lois Steans; Bobette Takiff; and Roger and Pam Phillips Weston, to date.

# # #

ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE: For more than 20 years, Writers Theatre has captivated Chicagoland audiences with inventive interpretations of classic work, a bold approach to contemporary theatre and a dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible, establishing the Theatre as a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence.

Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has been deemed the “best drama company in the nation” by the Wall Street Journal and achieved twenty years of surplus operations.  Prized for the finest interpretations of classic and contemporary theatre in its two venues, Writers Theatre’s work includes Artistic Director Michael Halberstam’s world premiere in Glencoe and subsequent production of A Minister’s Wife at Lincoln Center Theater; David Cromer’s productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Picnic; and the commissioning, world premiere and New York premiere of Crime and Punishment, which has received more than 30 subsequent regional theater productions.

You can find Writers Theatre on Facebook or follow Writers Theatre on Twitter at Twitter.com/WritersTheatre.  For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org.

ABOUT STUDIO GANG ARCHITECTS: MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang is the founder of Studio Gang Architects, a Chicago-based collective of architects, designers, and thinkers practicing internationally.  Studio Gang uses architecture as a medium of active response to contemporary issues and their impact on human experience.  The Studio’s work is designed to resonate with its specific site and culture while addressing larger global themes such as reuse and sustainability.  With this approach, Studio Gang has produced some of today’s most innovative and visually compelling architecture. The firm’s projects range from tall buildings like Aqua Tower, whose façade encourages building community in the vertical dimension, to the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, where fourteen acres of biodiverse habitat are designed to double as stormwater infrastructure and engaging public space.  Honored and published widely, Studio Gang’s work has been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Building Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.