The Pershing Square Foundation Donates $25 Million to Signature Theatre

NEW YORK, Jan. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Signature Theatre and The Pershing Square Foundation announced today a $25 million gift to Signature Theatre to fund the innovative Signature Ticket Initiative, as well as dedicating the theatre’s new home as The Pershing Square Signature Center. 

The gift is being dedicated to Signature Center, the Company’s new Frank Gehry-designed home, and will help fund the Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that will guarantee affordable and accessible tickets to every Signature production for the next 20 years.   In recognition of the gift, Signature’s new home will be called “The Pershing Square Signature Center,” and the Signature Ticket Initiative has been doubled from the original 10-year timeframe. Tickets to all productions of Signature’s inaugural season at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $25.

Launched in 2005, the Signature Ticket Initiative was created to remove the economic barrier to theatregoing and make theatre truly accessible to all. For the past six seasons, Signature has made affordable tickets available for every seat during the initial run of every Signature production.   This innovative program has served as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country.  With the opening of The Pershing Square Signature Center, the Company will launch the next phase of this initiative, A Generation of Access, a commitment to making tickets affordable and accessible for every Signature production for the next 20 years.  The gift from The Pershing Square Foundation to support the Signature Ticket Initiative is in keeping with The Pershing Square Foundation’s support for creative programs in arts and culture. The Signature Ticket Initiative is made possible by a lead gift from The Pershing Square Foundation with supplemental support from the Ford Foundation, Margot Adams, Time Warner Inc., the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Pershing Square Capital Management’s founder and CEO Bill Ackman said, “Signature has made a remarkable contribution to the cultural life of New York. With the opening of their new home, their impact on the city will increase significantly. We are especially pleased to support their groundbreaking program to provide access to great theatre, which we see as an investment in New York and the theatre community that will pay dividends for generations to come.”

The gift to Signature Theatre is the largest single gift from The Pershing Square Foundation to an arts institution.

“Signature is aspiring to provide a home for artists and audiences to celebrate all that is possible in the theatre.  This remarkable gift from The Pershing Square Foundation makes that aspiration a reality,” said Signature’s Founding Artistic Director James Houghton.  “Their commitment to both the company and the Signature Ticket Initiative is inspiring and will provide unprecedented access to all of the exciting cultural activity that will take place at our new home.  We are deeply indebted to Bill and Karen Ackman and thank them on behalf all who will benefit from their vision and generosity for years to come.”

“Theatre has to engage with the diversity of who we are, both in terms of what we see on the stage AND who is in the audience, or else it ceases to be vital. If it’s just for a fortunate few, it’s not relevant. One of the main reasons I’m so involved with Signature is that it’s the only major company I know of that is really facing up to the challenge of making sure that theatre is an experience that’s affordable and accessible to a diverse crowd,”  said Edward Norton, Signature Theatre alum, board member, and capital campaign co-chair. “That’s what’s so special about what Bill and Karen have done here because they’ve said ‘Let’s not just build a great new theatre, let’s commit to making sure that it’s truly for everybody.’ That’s just magic.”

Spanning an entire city block at 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, The Pershing Square Signature Center is designed by Frank Gehry and will feature three intimate theatres, a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, and a public cafe, bar and bookstore. The Center will be both a theatre community hub and a neighborhood destination, and has been designed to foster interaction among playwrights, artistic collaborators, and the public.

Signature Theatre is distinguished for its pioneering programs that celebrate the playwright’s body of work.  The Pershing Square Signature Center will enable the 20-year old Company to expand its programming, introduce new initiatives, and build audiences.  The Company will present up to nine plays each season at the Center, which will serve as the artistic home for as many as 11 playwrights at any one time, allowing Signature to expand its commitment to playwrights and foster a creative community that brings together audiences and theatre artists.

Since its founding in 1991, Signature has presented entire seasons honoring the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, the Negro Ensemble Company, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, August Wilson and Lanford Wilson.  Signature’s recently concluded 20th Anniversary season presented the work of Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner.  During its inaugural season, which begins January 31, 2012, Signature will present plays by Edward Albee, Will Eno, Athol Fugard, Katori Hall and Kenneth Lonergan.

The Pershing Square Signature Center, a $66 million project, is being funded through a public-private partnership and will be staffed by more than 400 people annually.  The Pershing Square Signature Center is housed within MiMA, Related Companies’ newest high-rise mixed use development.  The 63-story glass tower is also home to rentals and condo units and YOTEL, the innovative European pod hotel.

About The Pershing Square Foundation

The Pershing Square Foundation, based in New York, was founded in December 2006 by Karen and Bill Ackman. Bill is the CEO and Portfolio Manager of Pershing Square Capital Management. The goal of The Pershing Square Foundation is to support innovation within communities, as well as the right of each individual to a healthy and fulfilling life. It invests in social entrepreneurs and leaders with innovative solutions that tackle the injustice of poverty globally, and programs that support our communities.

Since it was founded, the Foundation has committed over $130 million in grants and social investments, in the areas of livelihoods, education, health, and human rights. The Pershing Square Foundation also supports innovative programs in arts and culture, and actively promotes social entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

About The Pershing Square Signature Center

Opening January 31, 2012, The Pershing Square Signature Center is the new, permanent home of Signature Theatre Company.  Designed by Frank Gehry, working hand-in-hand with Signature leadership, The Pershing Square Signature Center spans an entire city block at 42nd Street between Dyer and 10th Avenue.  At the Center, the Company’s expanded programming will include: Residency One, the continuation of Signature’s core program which provides audiences with an immersive exploration of the work of a singular playwright; Residency Five, which provides five-year residencies for multiple playwrights, guaranteeing three full productions of new work over the course of each playwright’s residency; and the Legacy Program, which honors the lifetime achievement of playwrights who have previously been in residence at Signature through the production of a premiere or earlier play.  The Pershing Square Signature Center will serve as the artistic home for as many as 11 playwrights at any one time, fostering a dynamic creative community where playwrights will engage directly with audiences and one another.  The inaugural season at The Pershing Square Signature Center features three plays by South African playwright and recent Tony Award-winner for lifetime achievement Athol Fugard, as well as a new production of Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque, world premieres by Katori Hall and Kenneth Lonergan, and a United States premiere by Will Eno. In addition, Annie Baker and Regina Taylor will also be in residence at the Center as Residency Five playwrights. More information on The Pershing Square Signature Center and Signature Theatre Company’s expanded programming can be found at

SOURCE  The Pershing Square Foundation