(Washington, D.C.—May 3, 2021) Executive Director David J. Kitto announced today that The National Theatre Corporation is now The National Theatre Foundation. The change in the name of the nation’s second oldest continuously operating theatrical organization underscores its non-profit status and more clearly communicates its overarching mission.
“At The National,” explained Mr. Kitto, “our aim is to provide community programming and education, as well as preservation of the theatre and operation of The National’s main stage, which occupies a distinctly important place in the nation’s theatrical history and in Washington’s cultural landscape. The new name better expresses our mission and purpose.”
The National Theatre’s luminous history began in 1835, hosting since then nearly every major star of the stage, as well as nearly every U.S. President, over its 185+ years. The National Theatre Foundation creates and provides free education and community programming, undertakes needed capital improvements, maintains the archives, and oversees theatre operations.
“In David’s 18 months at the helm, we have truly seen a new day at The National. The progress has been remarkable,” stated The National Theatre Board Chairman Charles C. (Sandy) Wilkes. “Even with the nation in the throes of a pandemic, David has kept us moving forward. He has overseen important physical improvements to the theatre, significantly improved fund-raising, revamped and made our educational programming available online, and is now leading the development of a new master plan.”
Recent achievements and developments include:
- The securing of a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities allowing the Foundation to develop a comprehensive master plan for the future; charting a course of preservation and enhanced audience experience.
- A 300%+ increase in the “Friends of The National” as the result of two membership challenges, and a more than 200% increase in “The National Theatre Circle,” the leadership donor group. “I would particularly like to thank our new Chief Development Officer Dave Steadman,” stated Mr. Kitto. “Although we have much to do, the advance has been outstanding.”
- Thanks to the continued sponsorship of the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, one of The National’s marquee community programs, “Saturday Morning Live! (SML!),” has pivoted from an in-person series to virtual offerings created specifically for The National Theatre. This programming, the first in The National’s history to be available online, has included performances by acclaimed artists Paige Hernandez and David Gonzalez as well as collaborations with Northwestern University and Arts on the Horizon.
- The evolution of The National Theatre’s 30-year-old “Community Stage Connections” program, designed to provide artistic experiences to those with limited access to performances, into online experiences through Zoom and WebEx. Eleven of the 30 planned performances have taken place, further enhancing The National’s online presence and reach.
- A new offering of “Community Stage Connections” is now in production for Children’s National Hospital. The acclaimed puppeteering duo, Alex & Olmsted, is creating a new video series for patients in the dialysis unit, demonstrating how to make puppets and film videos. The Washington Children’s Foundation, a new supporter of The National Theatre Foundation, is the sponsor.
- Creation of new social media accounts specifically for The National Theatre Foundation to further build the identity of the theatre by showcasing the theatre’s history, its vast archives, education and community programming, and recent capital improvements.
- Installation of a new state-of-the-art Broadway quality sound system as part of a series of renovations in 2020 that also included internet infrastructure upgrades for improved operations and an enhanced patron experience. The internet infrastructure allows for later installation of GalaPro—the automated system delivering subtitles, closed captioning, dubbing, audio description, and amplification to the user’s own mobile device. Additionally, a new CCTV system now provides greater security backstage and in all public spaces.
“We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of our community. To our lead sponsors, as well as to all the individuals who joined The National’s family of supporters over the past year, we offer our profound thanks,” concluded Mr. Kitto. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the theatre safely, and hopefully very soon.”