Arts take in $2.5 million gift

A $2.5 million gift from a double alumnus will help fund MainStage productions, add scholarships for theater students and hand GW a $200,000 art collection, the University announced Wednesday.

The planned gift from 65-year-old Marc Albert – a D.C. bankruptcy lawyer and 1973 GW Law School graduate – will help bolster the University’s theater, dance and fine arts programs as GW looks to push forward a broader arts initiative.

“There’s no reason why we can’t compete with others. This is a great theater city,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to attract more talented actors, and any support I can give, I’d be delighted.”

Albert, who also earned his bachelor’s degree from GW in 1970, said in an interview that he hopes the gift spurs more philanthropy for the University’s art programs. He has been consistently involved in the programs by producing student shows like “Sweeney Todd,” “Hair” and “The Merchant of Venice.”

The University has increasingly looked toward donations left in wills to add to GW’s growing donor base. Those types of gifts grew by 56 percent last year, as the University brought in $23.5 million from 81 donations that mature when donors die.

Part of Albert’s gift will help fund one undergraduate scholarship per year for a theater major or minor.

Albert, a lawyer at the firm Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, said he also donated to help ensure his nearly $200,000 art collection was in good hands. His late partner, alumnus Michael Green, who died in 1987, painted some of the pieces in the collection.

“He was one of the finest Washington art school painters. He was a painter’s painter,” Albert said. “I was getting more concerned as I was turning 65 [with] what I was going to do with my artwork and how I want to treat my property.”

Albert has kept strong ties with GW, especially with the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. He sits on its council of arts and sciences, helping to interview the college’s dean candidates.

His gift also jumpstarts an arts initiative the University is beginning to roll out with Columbian College Dean Peg Barratt at the helm. The initiative focuses on expanding performance and gallery space and increasing arts departments’ visibility on campus.

The University recently partnered with D.C.’s flagship theater, Arena Stage, to fund and house student-produced performances that explore different aspects of the Civil War. It is also adding artists-in-residence next year.

“The Arts Initiative is an ongoing multiyear effort to place GW at the forefront of creative and cultural activity in the nation’s capital,” Columbian College Dean Peg Barratt said in a release. “The long-term vision is to further showcase our arts profile and make GW the venue for cultural education, research and performance.”

This article was updated April 18, 2013 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet clarified that the arts initiative is University-wide, and not organized solely by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Peg Barratt, the college’s dean, is leading the initiative.

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