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Harvard’s ART to Build New Center in Boston

Thanks to a $100-million gift, the theatre will construct a new facility across the river from its current one.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.: American Repertory Theater is going to have a new home. Currently housed on the campus of Harvard University, the school announced due to a $100-million gift from alumnus David E. and  Stacey L. Goel, it will be able to build a new research and performance center in Allston, a Boston neighborhood just across the Charles River from its Cambridge campus.

“David and Stacey have given us a gift that will undoubtedly inspire support for one of our most exciting projects to advance the arts at Harvard,” said Harvard president Larry Bacow in a statement. “The ART is a magnet for extraordinarily talented individuals who change the way we understand the world through live theater. It has thrived under the leadership of Diane Paulus, and the new space we envision will be a magnet for artists and audiences, as well as students, faculty, and staff.

ART has been in residence at Harvard since its founding in 1980. It currently performs out of the Loeb Drama Center and Oberon, both on Harvard’s campus. The university has not released details on what the new performing arts center will contain, the timeline, or how much it will cost to build (though it will likely take years, according to the press statements). It does mean that ART will completely move its operations to Allston.

“The vision for a new research and performance center will reflect the ART’s core commitments to artistic excellence, rigorous pedagogy, civic leadership, global engagement, inquiry, and inclusion,” said ART artistic director Diane Paulus in a statement. “We are excited by the transformative possibilities that come with the Goels’ astoundingly generous gift. It will allow us to envision a sustainably designed center that encourages creative risk-taking in open, democratic spaces that will feel welcoming and porous to the city.”

The new arts center is part of Harvard’s plan to expand its campus. It is currently represented in the Allston neighborhood with its business school, its engineering school, and the ArtLab center that was completed in January.

Donor David Goel promises that the new space will be of “a versatile theatre space that can be reshaped as appropriate to express and share the abundant ideas originated by the College, the American Repertory Theater, and Harvard’s community already at home in Allston—and connect them through music, dance, theatre, debate, lectures, conferences, and dialogue in any format,” he said in a statement.

ART has won 19 Tony Awards and is currently represented on Broadway with Waitress. Its production of Jagged Little Play will play next season on Broadway. It also runs a master’s program, which is currently on hiatus after coming under criticism for the high debt its graduates accrue. The gift will also support the undergraduate arts programs at Harvard, but makes no mention of ART’s master’s program (which is not accredited by Harvard).

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