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American Repertory Theater Receives $100 Million Gift For New Space in Allston

OBERON on Arrow Street is a venue of Harvard's American Repertory Theater.
OBERON on Arrow Street is a venue of Harvard's American Repertory Theater. By Megan M. Ross
By Peter E. O'Keefe, Crimson Staff Writer

Hedge-fund manager David E. Goel ’93 and Stacey L. Goel donated $100 million to Harvard for an arts research and performance space in Allston, the University announced Thursday.

The gift begins Harvard’s fundraising initiative to build a new “state of the art” center and provide a “future home” for the American Repertory Theatre, which currently operates out of Loeb Drama Center, according to a press release about the donation.

“There is something almost metaphorically perfect about the architectural license to build a center for the arts at the nucleus of Harvard’s expanding campus,” David Goel said in the press release.

Goel said he hopes the center will become “a physical representation of the idea that each set of academic disciplines is strengthened by proximity, dialogue, and contribution to the same tapestry of human understanding.”

A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane M. Paulus ’88 said in the press release that the gift will allow the the group to take more creative risks.

“We are excited by the transformative possibilities that come with the Goels’ astoundingly generous gift,” she said. “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 gift follows a precarious situtaion at the A.R.T. two years ago: in 2017, the Department of Education found that the A.R.T. Institute — which offered two-year graduate programs in acting, dramaturgy, and voice pedagogy — was saddling students with high levels of debt, leading to an admissions freeze. Later that year, the A.R.T. decided to shutter its Institute program for three years to “work on a strategic plan,” according to an email to affiliates at the time.

The Goels’ gift is intended to honor David Goel’s parents, according to the release. University President Lawrence S. Bacow said the gift will draw more support for projects concerning the arts at Harvard.

“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,” Bacow said in the press release. “The new space we envision will be a magnet for artists and audiences, as well as students, faculty, and staff.

David Goel is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The Goels endowed the Goel Center for Theater and Dance at Phillips Exeter Academy which opened its doors in 2018.

Correction: March 1, 2019

A previous version of the headline incorrectly referred to the American Repertory Theater as the American Repertory Center.

Correction: March 1, 2019

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Diane M. Paulus is the A.R.T. creative director. In fact, she is the A.R.T. artistic director.

Correction: March 1, 2019

A previous version of the caption for the photo accompanying this article incorrectly stated that OBERON is located on Mass. Ave. In fact, it is located at 2 Arrow St.

Correction: March 1, 2019

A previous version of the caption for the photo accompanying this article incorrectly stated that OBERON is owned by the A.R.T. In fact, is is a venue of A.R.T.

Correction: March 1, 2019

A previous version of the caption for the photo accompanying this article incorrectly referred to OBERON as "the OBERON."

–Peter E. O’Keefe can be reached at peter.o’keefe@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @CrimsonOKeefe.

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TheaterFundraisingEndowmentAllston