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Philanthropists gift $2 Million to Old Globe Theatre to help develop new plays

Before the pandemic, an audience in The Old Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre awaits a performance.
Craig Schwartz
Before the pandemic, an audience in The Old Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre awaits a performance in this undated photo.

San Diego's Old Globe Theatre received a $2 million gift from philanthropists Paula and Brian Powers to create the Powers New Works Fund, it was announced Tuesday.

The gift will support new play development at The Old Globe, and builds on the couple's previous contributions supporting the theater's operating fund and annual Powers New Voices Festival. The Powers New Works Fund will be spent over 10 years.

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"Through our involvement with the New Voices Festival, we saw how many steps a new play goes through on its way to full performance — from script sourcing and play commissions to script development, readings, and workshops," the Powers said in a joint statement. "The Powers New Works Fund will provide the Globe with additional resources to support and expand this effort to bring the best new plays to the stage."

The theater will use the funds to bolster its programs and activities, including the annual Powers New Voices Festival, playwright commissions, production of digital works, residencies at the Globe for playwrights and the staffing and administration of the newly created Department of New Plays and Dramaturgy.

"[The Powers] have been demonstrating their commitment to the importance of new writing through their namesake Powers New Voices Festival, our annual week of public presentations of new plays," said Barry Edelstein, the Globe's artistic director. "Now they have provided jet fuel to our efforts in the form of this extraordinary gift. The not-for-profit arts sector cannot do its work without the civic-minded generosity of leading philanthropists, and with their largesse, Paula and Brian Powers, already indispensable to the cultural life of San Diego, take pride of place as shining stars in the constellation of funders who make our city — and the Globe — as spectacular as they are."

Paula Powers joined the Globe's Board of Directors in 2011, serving as board secretary, chairing the Philanthropy Steering Committee, and serving on the Executive, Nominating and Board Governance Committees. The Powers New Voices Festival was named for the couple in 2017.

The Old Globe will present the eighth annual Powers New Voices Festival, featuring readings of new American plays, from April 6-10 in the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, part of the Globe's Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.