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LOWELL -- The UMass Lowell Center for the Arts, has announced that the center has received a gift of $25,000 from the Nancy and Richard K. Donahue Charitable Foundations Trust, with a promise of two additional $25,000 grants in the next two years.
According to Christine Brown, director of the center, says the award will be used to support the Discovery Series, a series designed for family audiences, and the STARTS program, which attracts school groups from throughout the region. These two programs entertain more than 55,000 school children each year in the University's Durgin Hall.
Brown says, "As much as 10-20 percent of our audience will be subsidized thanks to this generous gift, and it's giving our budget some breathing space. This will allow us to keep our already low ticket prices level, despite steadily increasing artist fees."
Typically, the center uses what available funds it has to provide passes to area shelters, like Lowell's Alternative House, or to defray the costs of schools that may not be able to afford to send classes. Students attend who may not otherwise get the chance to see live performing arts.
"When you see a Center for the Arts audience, it's Wham! It's so diverse, so reflective of this place. Many of these kids will attend two programs a year here until they're in eighth grade. That's 18 productions by the time they're thirteen or fourteen," says Brown.
Lowell cultural benefactor Nancy Donahue, who personally informed Brown of the gift, says, "Arts are so important to the children of the community, and the Center for the Arts has been a key provider of that."
"The Donahues' regular sponsorship has helped maintain the bedrock upon which the Center for the Arts was built," says Brown.
In future years, Brown says the financial assistance may allow the center to bring in acts with richer production values or who travel from greater distances.
"I felt so good about this tremendous vote of confidence," says Brown, "especially in such tough times."
"I just hope they continue doing what they've been doing," Donahue says.