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Center Theatre Group receives major grant

October 14, 2008 |  3:15 pm

CtgthumbCenter Theatre Group, parent of the Mark Taper Forum, left, Ahmanson Theatre and Kirk Douglas Theatre, will receive as much as $1.1 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Nonprofit Finance Fund to serve as a very large guinea pig for the performing arts.

CTG and nine other groups are the focuses of a $15.1-million, five-year experiment, announced today, aimed at discovering a cure for the economic uncertainty and declining attendance plaguing many nonprofit theater and dance organizations.

The hope is that the 10 performance companies and festivals -- six based in New York City -- will develop better business tactics that can be copied by others. CTG, whose annual budgets of $40 million or more make it by far the largest organization involved, will develop new business models and seek new ways of reaching young audiences.

Arts donors have come to expect "carefully predicted outcomes" in exchange for their largess, said Clara Miller, president of the Nonprofit Finance Fund. The new initiative will back "true experimentation and change." Amounts will be determined as the experiment goes along, with a ceiling of $1.1 million for each of the pilot groups.

Others receiving "Leading for the Future" grants are the New York-based Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Cunningham Dance Foundation and Misnomer Dance Theater, the Jacob's Pillow Dance festival in Becket, Mass., Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the New York-based experimental theater companies the Wooster Group, SITI Company and Ping Chong & Company, and Atlanta's National Black Arts Festival.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Mark Taper Forum. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho /Los Angeles Times