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January 16, 2003

MacArthur Foundation Announces Grants to Chicago Arts and Cultural Institutions

1.85 Million Dollars Goes to Chicago Equity Theatres

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced that it will donate $50 million dollars to arts and cultural institutions in the Chicago area. The financial support, which marks the Foundation's 25th Anniversary, recognizes the importance of the arts in building and sustaining the vitality of Chicago and its surrounding region.

Six Chicago Equity professional theatres will benefit from the grants: the Goodman Theatre, the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and the Steppenwolf Theatre each received $500,000; the Lookingglass Theatre Company was awarded $250,000; and the Black Ensemble Theatre and the Chicago Theatre Company each received $100,000.00.

"One of the great treasures of Chicago is the number of arts and cultural organizations that, like the Foundation, call this great city home," said Jonathan F. Fanton , President of the Foundation. "These organizations bring new works of art to the attention of international audiences, bind communities together, and stimulate economic activity. In these challenging times, it is important to remember how critical it is to support institutions that do so much to nurture the spirit, and so we are proud, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary year, to give this gift to these organizations."

The theatres were "totally surprised" by the awards, which were not solicited or pre-announced. "Frankly, I was speechless when they called me," said Michael Gennaro, departing Executive Director of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

At the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the grant "will allow us to dream in directions we might not have been able to dream," said Executive Director Criss Henderson . CST has enjoyed enormous growth since its move to Navy Pier several years ago, but was doing some cautious planning for next season.

The grants also are largely free of restrictions and may be used for a wide range of purposes, from general operating and development activities to special projects and endowment.

Equity's Central Regional Director Kathryn V. Lamkey said that the announcement of the MacArthur Awards "couldn't have come at more welcome time. Given the current economic climate and the challenges in fund-raising, this is wonderful news."

For more information about the MacArthur Foundation, visit http://www.macfound.org/anniv/chicago.htm.

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