Hall Family Foundation pledges $5 million to Rep, UMKC

Lead gift calls on donor community to support Spencer Theatre renovation


June 4, 2014

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre (KC Rep) today announced a $3 million lead gift from the Hall Family Foundation in support of its 50th Anniversary Celebration project to renovate Spencer Theatre and lobby; as well as a $2 million gift to UMKC Theatre for student scholarships.

This gift is the largest in Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s history. The project includes renovation of the lobby of UMKC’s James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, home of the Spencer Theatre. The total fundraising goal for the 50th Anniversary Celebration project of $5 million must be reached by December 31, 2014 in order for construction to begin in the summer of 2015 and completed in time for A Christmas Carol during the 2015 holiday season.

“The Hall Family Foundation is pleased to support the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and UMKC Theatre Department in this exciting project. The Rep is a vibrant community resource and we are proud to be a part of moving this project forward,” said Don Hall, chairman of the Hall Family Foundation.

Irvine O. Hockaday, who is co-chairing the 50th Anniversary Celebration project with his wife, Ellen, stated, “The Hall Family Foundation has had a consistent commitment to the arts and education and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre represents the nexus of those two critical areas. It is through that nexus that our next generation learns important life lessons. There is nothing more effective in reaching young people than a live performance, which the Rep does so very well. I personally witnessed this powerful connection between a young audience and the Rep’s recent production of Death of a Salesman. This gift will enable the Rep to continue to reach this vital audience.”

Eric Rosen, artistic director of KC Rep, said “The productions that have happened on the Spencer Theater stage over the past 35 years have turned the Rep into a nationally acclaimed regional theater and our city into a nationally recognized theater town. Now is the best time to create a frame for the works of art that we create, to contextualize the Rep’s local, regional, and national significance, and to create the best possible space to engage our extraordinary and diverse audience. We are the epicenter of Kansas City theater, and the renovated Spencer Theater will be a home for our region’s and our nation’s best artists to create the best possible work.”

Angela Gieras, executive director of KC Rep, praised the Hall Family Foundation for its generosity and vision. “The Hall Family Foundation’s generous contribution is a catalyst for the future of Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Through the foundation’s investment, we commit to providing a high-quality environment for audiences and our artists for the next fifty years. Our 50th anniversary season is a celebration of and for the Kansas City community.”

UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton voiced his thanks as well. “This gift is so much more than about the Spencer Theatre and scholarships,” Morton said. “What this is really all about is creating the next generation of world-class artists right here in Kansas City. UMKC can continue to be an artistic resource for the entire community. The Spencer Theatre can now continue to host a rich array of UMKC student performances for the benefit of our students, alumni and the entire community we serve.”

Scott Boswell, KC Rep Board Chairman, first announced the gift this past Friday at KC Rep’s 50th Anniversary Fearless Fete, co-chaired by Greg and Deanna Graves. The Rep’s annual benefit raised a record-breaking $724,000 for the work of Kansas City’s largest, non-profit theatre.

The total gift from the Hall Family Foundation breaks down as follows: $3 million for the renovation of the Spencer Theatre and lobby, $2 million for UMKC Department of Theatre student scholarships, and $600,000 in support of the great plays Kansas City Repertory Theatre produces for the Kansas City region.