A Closer Look at the Putnam Foundation, New Hampshire's Deep-Pocketed Arts Funder

Let's play a word association game. I'll say a phrase and you tell me the first U.S. geographic region that comes to mind. It'll be fun. OK. The phrase is "innovative and provocative theater." Well?
Time's up. The answer is "southwest New Hampshire."
Yup, southwest New Hampshire. Specifically, New England College in Henniker, NH. For many decades now, it has acted, all stealth-like, as a pipeline for some of the country's most accomplished and successful actors, directors, and writers. With its total student population hovering around 2,000, the college has sent more students to the Actors Studio MFA Program than any other college or university in the country.
The college's success may be lost on the general public, but not on Tom and Barbara Putnam, the Putnam family, and the Putnam Foundation, which collectively gave $3 million recently to the college for the purposes of constructing a new, two-story, 350-seat theatre. The new Rosamond Page Putnam Center for the Performing Arts will accommodate a variety of programming such as dramatic productions, dance and musical performances, political forums and debates, professional lectures, and summer arts programs for K-12 students.
This gift shines a light on the Putnam Foundation, which has been an integral part of the New Hampshire philanthropic world since the trust was established in 1952 by Tom's father, David. The Putnam Foundation's mandate and purpose is to provide funds on a regional basis in New Hampshire and, in particular, the Monadnock Region for historic preservation, cultural enhancement, and ecological maintenance.

Foundation grants are limited to New Hampshire-based organizations. Past recipients include the Currier Museum of Art, Arts Alive!, the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery at Keene State College, the MacDowell Colony, the Saint-Gaudens Memorial, the NH Business Committee for the Arts, and the National Business Committee for the Arts.

The state of New Hampshire, to say the least, is grateful for the foundation's benevolence. The state's Council on the Arts named Tom and Barbara its Governor Arts Award recipient in 2013.
As for that pipeline of Hollywood talent we alluded to, some of the college's alumni include Oscar award-winning actress Geena Davis, five-time Emmy award-winning cinematographer Jay Kulick, and Emmy award-winning producer Cris Graves.

And while we're on the topic of theatre news in New England, check out our take on the Newman's Own Foundation's $75,000 Challenge Grant to Connecticut's Westport Country Playhouse.