$1 million challenge gift announced for IRT’s Front and Center campaign
To extend the impact of all donations, community leaders pledge additional gift
Indianapolis, Ind.—In February 2019, the Indiana Repertory Theatre publicly announced its $18.5 million Front and Center capital campaign to raise funds for the Theatre’s immediate needs and sustainability. The IRT has raised over $17.9 million. To help lift the IRT to surpass this goal, Honorary Campaign Co-chairs Sarah and John Lechleiter have presented a challenge gift. If the campaign reaches $19 million, the Lechleiters will donate an additional $1 million dollars, topping the campaign at an exciting $20 million and extending the value of each donation given so far to Front and Center.
“We are excited by the impact this challenge gift from Sarah and John Lechleiter will have on the work of the IRT, and we are grateful for their leadership,” Jennifer C. Turner, Director of Development said. “When we began planning the Front and Center Campaign the IRT identified $24 million in current and future sustainability needs and this challenge gift will help the IRT work towards meeting those priorities. We hope that the community will join in supporting the IRT’s Front and Center Campaign so we can reach $19 million and achieve the additional $1 million gift.”
For nearly 50 years, the IRT has served the state of Indiana, welcoming nearly five million people through its doors to entertain, educate, and enlighten. Campaign contributions will allow the IRT to further invest in the community by using professional theatre to make Indianapolis a more vibrant place for cultural expression, economic vitality and an informed, engaged citizenry.
Focused on innovation, efficiency, education and sustainability, the key areas of investment include deepening IRT’s commitment to new work and multigenerational work; outfitting the performance spaces and artisan shops with state-of-the-art technologies; maintaining the nearly 100-year-old historic building; and growing the IRT’s endowment from $12 million to $24 million to ensure the IRT will be producing impactful theatre generation after generation.
Thanks to a major campaign gift from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, the IRT revealed the completely remodeled Upperstage Lobby and Cabaret Lobby earlier this season. Other work that the campaign has already supported include the addition of lighting, projection and sound technologies, and new safety features for both staff and audiences.
“A campaign of this scope has not been done by the IRT in 20 years,” IRT’s Managing Director Suzanne Sweeney said. “As Indiana’s largest professional theatre, the IRT values its role as a community leader, educator and thought-provoking entertainer. We know the impact from Front and Center will strengthen the institution for years to come.”
The IRT extends a special thank you to Lilly Endowment, Inc., Sarah and John Lechleiter, Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, and Rollie and Cheri Dick for their lead gifts of $1 million and above, as well as every donor who has helped us reach this level of success with the Front and Center Campaign.
To help the IRT reach their campaign goal and ensure the Theatre is front and center in the future of Indianapolis, gifts can be made online or by contacting the IRT Development team.
For more information, contact Kerry Barmann, Marketing Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317.916.4824.
ABOUT THE IRT
Founded in 1971, the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is the largest professional not-for-profit theatre in the state and one of the leading regional theatres in the country. The mission of the Indiana Repertory Theatre is to produce top-quality, professional theatre and related activities, providing experiences that will engage, surprise, challenge, and entertain people throughout their lifetimes, helping us build a vital and vibrant community.
Jane Austen’s life, when compared with those of other famous novelists, was relatively quiet. She preferred a life far from the city and successfully banished fame from her door. Yet her work is celebrated for its unsurpassed knowledge of human behavior. At the core of Austen’s work is her ability to create compelling human relationships, personal motivations, and actions with consequences. These themes, along with her humor and ability to craft satire, have made her one of the most beloved authors throughout the world.
While the world in which Austen wrote feels very far from the one we live in today, the basis of her work, human relationships, still rings true to a modern audience, especially youth. Through her books and the numerous adaptations of her work, students can learn ideas on class, marriage, etiquette, money, and more, and connect them to current ideas. Below are ways to tie in Austen’s Sense and Sensibility into your classroom.
Have your students form two circles, one inside circle and one outside circle. Each student on the inside is paired with a student on the outside facing each other. Pose a question to the whole group and have the pairs discuss their responses with each other. After some time, have the students rotate so that they are talking to someone new. Once everyone is seated, another question can be offered, or you can continue with the same question.
Communication in the 1800s
The fastest and most common way people in Austen’s time kept in touch with each other is through letters. The written word kept people up to date on the day-to-day lives of family members or popular gossip happening around town. Similar to letter writing, most of us today communicate via email or text, using these as a way to connect with those around us.
In an activity, students should take passages from Sense and Sensibility and translate them into text message conversations. Divide the students into different groups and have them each work on part of the story. Students should be encouraged to modernize the text into their own words – how would they tell their friends about what’s happening? Once the groups are done, they should share what they wrote with the class. Students should be encouraged to express how they feel about each other’s work. Do they have a better understanding about what is happening between the characters? Did anyone gain insights or new perspectives?
Core to Sense and Sensibility is the interconnection between all of the characters within the story. Reading stories with these complex relationships helps develop what cognitive psychologists call our “theory of mind.” Theory of mind is what allows us to assess the mental states (thoughts, feelings, beliefs) of others and use that assessment to predict and explain what people are thinking. Theory of mind allows us to strategize in a business context and navigate the unspoken steps of building romantic relationships. Austen’s novels are filled with dozens of characters who constantly guess at the thoughts and intentions of the other characters; each interacts with the others in complex ways that influence the relationships of nearly everyone in the book.
In the link below is a drawn out map that displays all of the characters within Sense and Sensibility and how they connect to one another. At first glance, this fictional network can seem very complicated, but in our own lives we are used to managing such complex connections every day. After studying this map with your students, instruct them to create their own relationship map using a story they’ve read or television show they are currently watching (Grey's Anatomy, KUWTK, etc.). Once students are done, have them compare what they created to the Sense and Sensibility map. What similarities do you notice?
Continue your engagement with one of Austen’s beloved novels by viewing our study guide, coming online soon!
Student matinees for Sense & Sensibility at the IRT are available in April (10:00AM on April 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30). For more information, please visit irtlive.com/studentmatinees or contact Kristen Carter, Youth Program Coordinator, at email@example.com.
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The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
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