Drama lacks theater donor

Though the School of Drama failed to find a donor to fund a new theater — its biggest fundraising priority — during the Yale Tomorrow campaign, administrators are still optimistic that they will eventually secure the necessary funds.

A new theater would provide a setting not only for performances and practice space but also for much of the school’s administrative offices, said James Bundy, dean of the School of Drama. He said the theater would offer a “home” for the school, which is currently spread across 10 buildings. University President Richard Levin has said the construction of the theater is a fundraising priority, but the lack of a donor demands that the project remain in a planning phase.

“We’re moving ahead with planning for that project, and we do want to be prepared once we secure the funding from donors to proceed,” Levin said.

He added the University could potentially fund the theater itself if Yale’s financial situation significantly improves. After the Yale Corporation meeting in April 2011, Levin told the News that the University’s finances will soon be able to support the assumption of additional debt to finance campus construction.

Deborah Berman, director of development and alumni affairs for the School of Drama, said that while the school is currently seeking donations, there is no official fundraising campaign for the new theater. Bundy said that specific plans for the project — including cost, design, and location — will not be decided until a donor is found.

The project has been a fundraising objective for the school since 2006, when it was officially announced as part of the campaign’s priorities. Two of the three major Yale-affiliated theaters — the University Theatre and the Yale Repertory Theatre — were built before 1930. The Iseman Theater opened in 2000.

Though the funding priority of the theater was not met, Bundy said he did not see it as a fundraising failure. Expecting to secure such a large donation during the five-year campaign may have been “unrealistic,” he said.

Berman said the school receives donations from its graduates as well as Yale College alumni who simply appreciate the arts. She agreed with Bundy that failure to secure funding for a new theater did not make Yale Tomorrow a failed campaign for the School of Drama.

“Of course, the major goal was to get a building, but we did well in the campaign,” said Berman. “That being said, we’re forever hopeful that the next big donor is out there.”

Berman deferred comment about how much money was raised for the school during Yale Tomorrow to Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach, who could not be reached Thursday.

All four School of Drama students interviewed said that they would appreciate more theater space. Kee-Yoon Nahm DRA ’12 said students sometimes have difficulty finding places to rehearse, so a new theater would give students better opportunities to practice.

But Nicole Marconi DRA ’13 said she thinks additional funds could be better utilized on other projects.

“If we need anything, it’s not a new theater,” said Marconi. “It’s probably better to allocate those resources elsewhere, like more work-study for us or paying our stage managers better.”

The Yale School of Drama was officially founded in 1955 but had functioned as the Department of Drama since 1924.

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