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Mill Mountain Theatre Joins Elite Few With Gift From Shubert Foundation

Mill Mountain Theatre celebrates a significant achievement by securing a $15,000 grant from the renowned Shubert Foundation. After an 18-year pursuit, this accomplishment highlights Mill Mountain Theatre’s artistic impact on the stage of opportunity.

The Shubert Foundation, a subsidiary of the Shubert Organization, is the oldest professional theatre company in the United States and the largest owner of Broadway theatres. As a leading supporter of nonprofit theatres and dance companies, the foundation ensures that the funds can be directly used for operating expenses. In 2022, $37.6 million was distributed among over 600 nonprofit organizations.

“To be awarded a Shubert grant is not just being welcomed into an exclusive elite of the theatre industry. Rather, it is recognition of inclusion among professionals who care deeply about their communities and audiences.” Said Mill Mountain Theatre’s Director of Development, John Levin. “They are theatres with programs that expand live theatre’s impact and reach. Mill Mountain Theatre’s nine-year-old Young Audiences Series that builds reading skills for young children is such a Shubert-worthy project, maybe it’s what got their attention.”

Mill Mountain Theatre will meet with its board of directors to discuss the opportunities that an unbudgeted, unrestricted grant permits and how it will be distributed.

While Mill Mountain Theatre had been on the Shubert Foundation’s radar for quite some time, after the theatre’s first submission for the grant in 2005, contact ceased during the theatre’s restructuring from 2009 – 2013 due to financial hardship. In 2014, Levin re-established contact with the foundation’s program director, at the time the Shubert Foundation expressed concerns over the theatre’s sustainability.

Undeterred, Levin persisted in pursuing a grant from the Shubert Foundation, maintaining annual communication despite receiving rejection letters. With each passing year, his optimism grew. In 2022, Levin and Ginger Poole, the theatre’s producing artistic director, concluded their annual conference call and were requested to apply by the Shubert Foundation’s program director.

Levin and Poole pointed out to one another after the call “The tone in her voice seemed warmer.”

The application process for the Shubert Foundation Grant is 15 pages long, a notably long application for an online format. The foundation required detailed information encompassing the theatre’s programming, finances, audiences, staff, board of directors, facilities, associations with other nonprofits and recent efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion.

Levin commented on the challenges of the application process, stating, “The absence of word limits in the text boxes necessitates editing and refining the content, ensuring focused responses to specific questions while avoiding hyperbole. Maintaining transparency is crucial, considering the foundation’s extensive industry connections where secrets are hard to keep.”

Notably, several other Virginia theatres have also been honored with Shubert grants including the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Signature Theatre in Arlington, Richmond Triangle Players and Virginia Repertory Theatre in Richmond and Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk.


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