Qualifications for applying to Overture's Great Performance Fund have loosened up considerably.
Beginning this fall, grant money once set aside exclusively for Madison Repertory Theatre will be available to any professional theater company in Wisconsin. The change was announced March 4.
The Madison Community Foundation oversees the Great Performance Fund, which supports programming at the Overture Center for the Arts. Relaxing restrictions could provide a big boost to fledgling Forward Theater, but it also creates an opportunity for any other company, such as the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, which has produced at Overture this season.
The fund was created in 2001 to benefit Overture resident organizations such as the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Ballet and Children's Theater of Madison. (Kanopy Dance is an Overture resident but does not receive Great Performance Fund dollars.)
The fund has a $46 million endowment. Around $140,000 are distributed annually. After the Rep dissolved in 2009, the Community Foundation's board of governors concluded that the fund should be used to support "a broad array" of professional theater at Overture.
"Madison audiences have proven their thirst for live theater," says Tom Linfield, the foundation's vice president for grant-making and community initiatives. "This fund will ensure the production of theater at Overture for years to come, exposing audiences to a variety of professional theater companies."
Under new requirements, eligible theater applicants must be non-profits operating primarily in Wisconsin. They also must meet three of four additional requirements: they must have produced a minimum of three shows for two consecutive years; they must be Actors' Equity signatories; have at least two paid actors; and have one paid staff member per production.
The Community Foundation confirms that the Milwaukee Rep qualifies. Forward Theater meets the last three requirements, and will be applying for a fall grant.
"Obviously we're very pleased to hear that there is a significant amount of funding earmarked for supporting professional theater," says Jennifer Uphoff Gray, Forward artistic director. "I think the Community Foundation is to be commended for finding a way to honor the wishes of the original donors, whose contributions supported the Madison Rep. Now those gifts will support the next generation of companies producing exceptional theater in Madison."
To receive funding, letters of inquiry must be received by the Community Foundation by July 15. Full proposals are due Sept. 1. For more information visit the Madison Community Foundation's web site.