Large Grant Will Help Fund Struggling Theatre & Dance Department

    The Wagner family has pledged a $2.2 million donation to UCSD’s Department of Theatre and Dance in response to budget cuts and concern over professional training opportunities for theatre students.

    The donation is a lead gift in establishing the UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities’ Student Production Fund. Founding chairman of the department Arthur Wagner and his wife Molli Wagner will serve as co-chairs of the Student Production Fund, which aims to achieve a $7 million endowment to ensure and support student performances.

    “It’s very important to have a source of guaranteed funding, especially in a time when state funding is so unpredictable,” Theatre and Dance Department Chair Jim Carmody said. The Wagner gift will be used exclusively towards the department’s undergraduate and graduate theatre and dance productions. Funds will cover sets, costumes, sound, lighting and projections for shows, as well as provide a guaranteed funding source for department necessities.

    “The gift will not allow us to start producing more elaborate shows, but it will allow us to plan next year’s season and those that follow with some confidence,” Carmody said.

    Arthur Wagner has served as a UCSD faculty member for almost 20 years and continues to support the department by donating gifts with his wife, Molli. In 2008, a performance space in Galbraith Hall was renamed the Arthur Wagner Theatre as recognition of his support.

    “It is time to launch a fundraising effort that will sustain the future quality of theater at UC San Diego, one of the top programs in the nation,” Wagner said in a UCSD press release Dec. 10. “We need to ensure that the show goes on for students.”

    Camrody says the UCSD Theatre and Dance Department’s high reputation rests on foundations of excellent faculty, outstanding students and a high level of professionalism during production season.

    “Without these production opportunities, we cannot have a highly-ranked program,” Camrody said. “To that extent, the Wagner gift is an investment in the continuing and future excellence of the department.”

    The department’s professionally produced shows are performed in theaters shared with the La Jolla Playhouse, a prominent professional theatre. UCSD’s theatre program is ranked as one of the top three in the country, next to Yale’s and New York University’s. UCSD’s Department of Theatre and Dance celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

    “It has been our true life’s passion to build and to nurture theatre and dance at UC San Diego,” Wagner said in the Dec. 10 press release.

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