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 café, 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.