The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has announced a $12 million endowment gift from longtime donor Joan H. Gillings in support of performing arts programming.
The largest gift ever by a living donor to the university for the performing arts will enable the Department of Dramatic Art to recruit and retain top graduate students with additional scholarships in acting, costume production, and technical production, and to foster the development of innovative and socially conscious plays. The endowment also will help expand the education and outreach programs of PlayMakers Repertory, the university's professional theater in residence, including its Mobile Shakespeare initiative and K-12 matinee and teaching artist residency programs. In recognition of the gift, the Center for Dramatic Art, home to the department and PlayMakers, will be named the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art.
Gillings' previous gifts to the school have supported the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Carolina Performing Arts, and UNC Children's Hospital. In 2011, she was awarded the William Richardson Davie Award, the highest honor bestowed by the UNC-Chapel Hill board of trustees, for extraordinary service to Carolina.
"I acquired a love of theater while attending plays on Broadway and in London's West End," said Gillings. "I have been proud to serve on the Friends of PlayMakers Advisory Council since 2008 and as its chair since 2013. The high quality of PlayMakers productions, including the work of the graduate students, has inspired me to make this gift. The future of theater is in the hands of our students. I am excited about what the future holds for them."