Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre have received a transformational $18 million gift from the Robina Foundation that will permanently endow the creation of new plays and musicals for the American stage through the Binger Center for New Theatre.
“Since their founding, Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre have championed the development of playwrights and the production of new plays,” said Yale University President Richard C. Levin. “Yale serves as both classroom and laboratory for the theatre arts, launching new contributions from the University to the wider world. This extraordinarily generous gift from the Robina Foundation ensures that the School of Drama and Yale Rep will bring exciting innovation to the production of new theatre for generations to come.”
Established with a grant from the Robina Foundation in 2008, and supported by additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and individual donors, the Yale Center for New Theatre is an artist-driven initiative that devotes major resources to the commissioning, development, and production of new plays and musicals at Yale Rep and across the country. Among the Center’s programs, a key component is its Production Enhancement Fund, which provides financial support for productions at other theatres of works commissioned by and/or first produced at Yale Rep. The Center also facilitates residencies of playwrights and composers at Yale School of Drama.
“Over the past four years, under the inspired leadership of James Bundy, Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre have demonstrated tremendous thoughtfulness, innovation, and passion in developing a successful and viable model for the creation of new works for the American stage,” said Peter Karoff on behalf of the Robina Foundation. “The Robina Foundation gift to endow the Binger Center for New Theatre honors our donor’s great love of theatre. This gift is fundamentally an investment in creativity, and in the exciting and important role that theatre plays in the human experience. We hope our gift will inspire other donors to be bold, to be transformative, and to invest deeply in all of the arts at organizations and institutions across the country.”
This $18 million gift combines $3 million in operating funds with a $15 million gift for endowment. It follows a grant of $2.85 million from the Robina Foundation, which established the Yale Center for New Theatre in 2008, and an additional $950,000 gift made in 2010 to support the Center’s activities through June 30, 2012—bringing the Robina Foundation’s total giving to the Center to $21,800,000.
Effective today, the Yale Center for New Theatre has been renamed the Binger Center for New Theatre in honor of James H. Binger (1916-2004), the noted businessman, theatre impresario, and philanthropist who created the Robina Foundation.
James Bundy said: “We are profoundly grateful to the Robina Foundation. They have helped us to establish this program, assess its intrinsic ongoing value, envision its long-term impact on the American theatre, and now, to support the Center’s aims in perpetuity. We believe that these significant investments in artists themselves, in combination with robust production opportunities and the fostering of an artistic community, can and will promote vibrant new American plays and musicals for generations to come. It is an honor, in this effort, to commemorate the joyful generosity of James Binger—a great man of the theatre.”
“The early success of the Center stems from our flexible capacity to tailor each process to meet the needs of our commissioned artists, putting resources directly in their hands," added Jennifer Kiger, Associate Artistic Director of Yale Rep and Director of New Play Programs. “The Center responds to the critical challenges of the field, providing meaningful compensation for writers—including both time to work and reasonable financial incentive to make live theatre—and significant production opportunities for ambitious new work that takes risks, including musicals and plays with larger casts.”