A $25,000 donation by Ford’s Theatre Trustee Ronald O. Perelman has assured that the theater building will be open for the remainder of its planned run of The Laramie Project, notwithstanding the shutdown of the Federal government, the company announced yesterday. The Laramie Project begins its run at the Ford’s Theatre building tonight.
The Ford’s Theatre building is maintained by the National Park Service, and has been closed, along with large portions of the Federal government, since October 1 due to the inability of Congress to enact a budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which began on that date.
Ford’s Theatre Society director Paul R. Tetreault, inspired by the example of several states which had been able to reopen Federal parks in their jurisdictions by paying money to the Federal government, negotiated an agreement with the National Parks Service to reopen Ford’s Theatre for eight days in return for $25,000. Once Tetreault and the NPS had reached agreement, Perelman stepped up with the cash.
“For 45 years, Ford’s Theatre Society has been honored to operate Ford’s Theatre in a public-private partnership with the National Park Service,” Tetreault said. “For the last 15 days, both NPS and the Society have been exploring ways to reopen this important historic site to the public. Thanks to the generosity of Ronald O. Perelman, we have found a way to pay NPS’s expenses for the next eight days. We look forward to welcoming our patrons back to The Laramie Project…. While we are pleased that we have found a short-term solution, we sincerely hope that the shutdown ends soon, as private dollars cannot replace the government’s role at Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site in the long term.”
Perelman is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings Inc. He is also the Founding Sponsor of the Ford’s Theatre Society’s Lincoln Legacy Project, a multi-year programming which the company characterizes as “an effort to generate dialogue around the issues of tolerance, equality and acceptance.”
The Laramie Project, which is part of this year’s Lincoln Legacy programming, tells the story of a community’s response to the hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, as seen through the eyes of the Techtonic Theatre Company. Ford’s had been staging the play at the nearby First Congregational United Church of Christ during the shutdown.
Although the Ford’s Theatre building, a National Historic Site, is maintained by the NPS, the company is run by Ford’s Theatre Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
All remaining tickets for the play, which will run through October 27, are available for $25 apiece.
In addition to the production of the play, Perelman’s donation will keep the theater building open during the day. It will also provide for a continuation of walking tours conducted by actors playing detective James McDevitt, who investigated the Lincoln assassination conspiracy, and an artistic exhibit about the response to Shepard’s murder which is installed on the second floor gallery of the Center for Education and Leadership at 514 Tenth Street NW, Washington, DC.