Harvard University announced today that it has received a gift from College alumnus David E. ’93 and Stacey L. Goel, which will make it possible to reimagine the University’s arts campus and envision a future home for the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.). The Goels’ $100 million gift kicks off the University’s effort to fund a state-of-the-art research and performance center in Allston that will enhance the arts community at Harvard as well as in Greater Boston.
“David and Stacey have given us a gift that will undoubtedly inspire support for one of our most exciting projects to advance the arts at Harvard,” said President Larry Bacow. “The A.R.T. is a magnet for extraordinarily talented individuals who change the way we understand the world through live theater. It has thrived under the leadership of Diane Paulus, and the new space we envision will be a magnet for artists and audiences, as well as students, faculty, and staff. Allston will be home to one of the nation’s great incubators of creativity. We are so grateful to the Goels for their commitment to nurturing and connecting knowledge through one of humanity’s most enduring mediums.”
Goel, co-founder and managing general partner of Waltham-based Matrix Capital Management Company LP, and his wife, Stacey, said in a statement that their gift is intended to honor David’s parents, “whose love, mentorship, and sacrifice” made his education possible. Goel said they were inspired by President Bacow’s vision to more completely integrate Harvard’s arts programs across the University’s disciplines, and by a shared belief that “the arts humanize the pursuit and application of knowledge.”
“There is something almost metaphorically perfect about the architectural license to build a center for the arts at the nucleus of Harvard’s expanding campus, a physical representation of the idea that each set of academic disciplines is strengthened by proximity, dialogue, and contribution to the same tapestry of human understanding,” said David Goel. He added that he and his wife were eager to support the notion of “a versatile theater space that can be reshaped as appropriate to express and share the abundant ideas originated by the College, the American Repertory Theater, and Harvard’s community already at home in Allston — and connect them through music, dance, theater, debate, lectures, conferences, and dialogue in any format.”
Goel said he was impressed by the extraordinary arts practice and scholarship of the A.R.T. under the leadership of Tony Award-winning Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Paulus. “Diane radiates intelligence, awareness, and a kind of creativity so giving that it inspires those around her. She is a generational talent” who has had “a revolutionary impact on Harvard and the broader culture,” he said.
The A.R.T. has been the professional theater on Harvard’s campus since its founding in 1980. It draws artists from around the world to develop musicals, plays, and operas inspired and enriched by its partnerships with faculty members and Schools across the University. It catalyzes discourse, interdisciplinary collaboration, and creative exchange among academic departments, institutions, students, and faculty members, acting as a conduit between its community of artists and the University. Under the leadership of Paulus and executive producer Diane Borger, the A.R.T. is a leading force in American theater, producing groundbreaking work for Greater Boston and beyond. As it pursues its mission to expand the boundaries of theater, the A.R.T. includes the audience as an active and essential partner.
“The vision for a new research and performance center will reflect the A.R.T.’s core commitments to artistic excellence, rigorous pedagogy, civic leadership, global engagement, inquiry, and inclusion,” said Paulus. “We are excited by the transformative possibilities that come with the Goels’ astoundingly generous gift. It will allow us to envision a sustainably designed center that encourages creative risk-taking in open, democratic spaces that will feel welcoming and porous to the city.”
Dedicated to making theater accessible, the A.R.T. actively engages more than 5,000 local students and a network of community members in project-based partnerships, workshops, conversations with artists, and other enrichment activities, both at the theater and across Greater Boston. The A.R.T. has been honored with many distinguished awards, including the Tony Award for best new play for “All the Way” (2014); consecutive Tonys for best revival of a musical for “Pippin” (2013) and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” (2012), both of which Paulus directed, and 16 other Tonys since 2012; a Pulitzer Prize; a Jujamcyn Prize for outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent; and the Regional Theatre Tony Award.
As part of the University’s plan for its expanding campus, and adjacent to the athletic facilities on North Harvard Street, the new center will anchor Harvard’s arts presence in Allston alongside the Business School, the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the transformative science, entrepreneurship, and discovery activities already underway. The ArtLab, a new hub for arts innovation on North Harvard Street in Allston, was completed in January. It will complement arts programming offered through the Harvard Allston Ed Portal and the Office for the Arts’ ceramics studio on Western Avenue.
“David and Stacey Goel’s generous gift presents Boston’s artists of all ages an opportunity to collaborate and learn alongside world-renowned talent in their own neighborhood,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I am grateful for the opportunities that have developed through the city’s partnership with Harvard University and look forward to seeing how the A.R.T. will be able to build on our relationship in Allston and beyond in new creative ways.”
The Goels’ gift also will support arts programs throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, including new University uses for the Loeb Drama Center, as academic offerings in the arts continue to grow. The Goels also noted their intention to commemorate and support the tenure of Claudine Gay, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as “a leader who is tireless, uncompromising in her integrity, and dedicated to the relevance and timelessness of our institution.” David Goel said they were honored to help advance Gay’s vision to “nurture the creative passions of Harvard’s undergraduate and graduate students, and continue Harvard’s long tradition of excellence.”
The number of concentrators and secondary field students in Theater, Dance & Media has increased significantly since its first year. Similarly, concentrator numbers have risen steadily in both Music and Visual and Environmental Studies, with new courses and curricular offerings added in those areas. Gay will begin a review to evaluate and accommodate growth in these programs and to assess the increased need for teaching, rehearsal, and performance spaces.
“I am extremely grateful to David and Stacey for this extraordinary level of support for the arts at Harvard, especially coming at a time when faculty and student demand is driving growth of our programs across the board,” said Gay. “This gift will allow the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to reimagine how Harvard’s campus supports arts practice — ensuring our programs continue to grow and thrive and to realize the incredible opportunities and benefits of engaging artists in research and teaching across our many disciplines. Building on the A.R.T.’s reputation as a world-class producing theater, a new center in Allston will also expand the opportunities for collaboration with Harvard undergraduates and artists from our surrounding community and around the world.”
The University will continue to assess its design, fundraising, and planning needs in the coming months, and the A.R.T. will continue to produce work at the Loeb for several years while plans develop.