Theater will spend $3.8M to update mainstage


NEW HAVEN — Its hopes to build a brand-new theater on the site of the former Veterans Memorial Coliseum a casualty of the financial downturn, Long Wharf Theatre will instead make the most of the funky space it has called home for nearly a half-century.

On March 14 LWT announced that it would spend $3.8 million to renovate its existing space at the New Haven Food Terminal. The work, which will focus on audience amenities, will be performed this summer and is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2012-13 season.

The theater has also signed a ten-year lease extension on the 222 Sargent Drive space that it first occupied in 1965, ostensibly as a temporary space.

Of the $3.8 million needed to complete the job, roughly two-thirds has already been raised, according to Charles Kingsley, who chairs the theater’s board of trustees. Of that, $1.25 million was pledged by the New Canaan-based Tow Foundation. The main stage of the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage Theatre will be renamed for foundation benefactor Claire Tow.

“Everyone knows that our seats are cramped and our bathroom lines are long,” acknowledged LWT Managing Director Josh Borenstein. To create more legroom for theater-goers, the rear row of seats in each section will be removed and the remaining rows move toward the rear. This will reduce the number of seats in the mainstage theater from 486 to 400. In addition, the size of the ladies room will be doubled.

The most visible change will be to the theater will be a new and more inviting exterior whose glass-and-steel entryway will “embrace the industrial aesthetic of the site,” Borenstein said.

Indoors, the theater’s lighting grid, which dates from 1965, will be replaced, which will enhance he theater’s creative capacity and reduce operation costs. In addition, the lobby will be renovated and expanded and the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units will be relocated to the roof of the building, creating more space inside.

“What happens onstage is a collaboration between the audience and the artists,” explained LWT Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein. “If the audience is cranky or uncomfortable, that collaboration is compromised.”

Lead architect in the LWT renovation is Gregg, Wies & Gardner Architects of New Haven.

Lowest number, goals of fundraising campaigns in 10 years


HARTFORD — Three reports newly issued by the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy point to a ten-year low in major fundraising campaigns throughout the state.


Both the number of campaigns and the dollar goals have been steadily dropping since 2007, according to Nancy Roberts, Council President, at least in the New Haven, Hartford and Fairfield County regions.


"In the last year alone, the number of campaigns dropped from 64 to 51, and the combined goal total of $344 million is down nearly 30 percent from $492 million in 2010," Roberts reported.


The reasons for the lower goals are varied, she added.


"Twenty-two campaigns closed since our last report,” said Roberts. “Of those, 12 met their stated goal, while five decided not to move forward at this time. Others worked within the amounts they were able to raise."


Of the 43 continuing campaigns, Roberts added, several are re-evaluating their fundraising efforts, extending the length of their campaigns, or seeking other financing.


Only nine new campaigns were added in 2011, compared with 13 in 2010, 12 in 2009, ten in 2008, and an average of 24 in each of the previous three years.

"Collectively, only 47 percent of the combined goal has been raised or pledged to date, leaving nearly $162 million still to be raised," Roberts noted. She attributed the issues to the stalled economy.

 NEW HAVEN — The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and its "I Give It Forward" promotion generated more than $205,000 for area nonprofits from local donors November 7-8.


The charitable foundation introduced "giveGreater cards" at its annual meeting November 7. The cards are similar to gift cards in that they can be used to make a donation to any of the local nonprofits the community foundation features on, an online resource for finding, learning about and giving to nonprofits serving greater New Haven.


"We're anxious to see how donors are using new technology to support their community and delighted that new faces are joining the ranks of experienced philanthropists," says William W. Ginsberg, the foundation’s president and CEO.


Available in denominations of $50, $100, $250, $500 and $,1,000, giveGreater cards can be ordered on the community foundation's website through December 31. They must be redeemed on by March 31, 2012. For more information phone 203-777-2386.