Just Give Them the Money: The Shubert Foundation's Latest Round of Unrestricted Grants

Here's a funder we dig: The Shubert Foundation, which is the nation’s largest private foundation giving unrestricted grants to not-for-profit theaters, dance companies, and professional theater training programs. This week, the foundation announced that it is awarding a whopping $22.5 million to nearly 500 arts organizations across the country.

That's a record amount for the foundation, but otherwise just another day at the office for the folks at Shubert who believe in writing big checks without asking lots of pesky questions.

"Our longstanding practice of providing help in the form of general operating support remains unchanged," said foundation president Michael I. Sovern in a statement. "We are convinced that talented artists and administrators are best able to decide how to use the funds we grant."

Amen to that. And here's a suggestion to Sovern: Put down that thought in a short email and blast it out to every foundation president in America, since so many still haven't heard what nonprofits have been telling funders for decades: Just give us the money

The Shubert Foundation has been backing the performing arts community for 32 consecutive years, and they’re not restricted to theater hubs such as New York or LA. Grants in this latest round of giving range from $10,000 to $300,000 and support arts organizations that vary in size, location, and interests. Shubert understands that no matter where groups are located, chances are that they are struggling to keep the doors open. 

"The challenges facing not-for-profit arts organizations today are greater than ever," said foundation chairman Philip J. Smith. "We want to help lift some of the financial burden so that the companies we support are able to focus on producing thought-provoking, relevant theatre for the widest possible audience."

So who got what? Among this year’s grantees are The Actors Company in New York ($70,000), Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville ($200,000), Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery ($140,000), Arena Stage in Washington ($220,000), Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield ($60,000), Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley ($190,000), Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn ($200,000), Classic Stage Company in New York ($60,000), Denver Center Theatre Company in Denver ($140,000), Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles ($110,000), Goodman Theatre in Chicago ($300,000), La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla ($160,000), Lincoln Center Theater in New York ($300,000), New York City Center in New York ($100,000), Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland ($200,000), Playwrights Horizons in New York ($265,000), The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival in New York ($230,000), Roundabout Theatre Company in New York ($235,000), Seattle Children's Theatre in Seattle ($100,000) and Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago ($200,000).

In addition to helping resident theaters develop and produce new work, The Shubert Foundation has established a new Shubert Scholars Program, which will award grants to eight leading colleges and universities to enable the institutions to offer scholarship assistance to students in graduate degree programs in theatre arts, and will continue its commitment to the Shubert Archive, which was created by the Foundation in 1976.