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Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Foundation goes off-Broadway with $25 million gift

January 30, 2012   Rob Copeland

The charity shelled out for a Gehry-designed New York theater.

The Pershing Square Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bill Ackman’s $10.4 billion Pershing Square Capital Management, led in part by his wife Karen, recently announced a $25 million donation to New York’s Signature Theater, set to open off-Broadway this week. The Frank Gehry-designed venue, to be named “The Pershing Square Signature Center,” boasts three small theaters, rehearsal space, a café, bar and bookstore. It is located on far west 42nd St, inside the ritzy, new MiMa residential development.

"Signature has made a remarkable contribution to the cultural life of New York. With the opening of their new home, their impact on the city will increase significantly. We are especially pleased to support their groundbreaking program to provide access to great theatre, which we see as an investment in New York and the theatre community that will pay dividends for generations to come,” Bill Ackman said in a statement.

In particular, the donation would extend to 20 years an initiative that allows the theater to offer $25 ticket prices to all productions.

"Theater has to engage with the diversity of who we are, both in terms of what we see on the stage AND who is in the audience, or else it ceases to be vital,” Signature board member Edward Norton said. "That's what's so special about what Bill and Karen have done here because they've said 'Let's not just build a great new theatre, let's commit to making sure that it's truly for everybody.' That's just magic."

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