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Release: Immediate

Hancher's 25 years at UI have required behind-the-scenes support

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Silver Anniversary of the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium has been the occasion for recalling many of the glorious events that have taken place on stage -- a list replete with names including Luciano Pavarotti, Rudolf Nureyev, Miles Davis, Vladimir Horowitz, "Les Miserables," Ella Fitzgerald, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Marcel Marceau, Andres Segovia, Pete Seeger, Leonard Bernstein, the Joffrey Ballet and even Johnny Cash.

But many of the events could never have occurred on the Hancher stage without financial support beyond ticket buying -- contributions by local individuals and businesses, and competitively won grants from foundations and government agencies.

Like at most non-profit arts organizations, Hancher ticket revenues cover only a fraction of the cost of presenting the live performing arts. Contributed support to Hancher is made more crucial by the fact that Hancher's programming receives no direct subsidy of taxpayer money appropriated by the Iowa Legislature.

Hancher, in collaboration with the University of Iowa Foundation, was a Midwest pioneer in arts fundraising -- the foundation established the Hancher Auditorium Gift Fund in 1980. In all, Hancher has attracted nearly $9 million in support during its first 25 years.

The majority of that support has come to the auditorium's annual giving programs and special capital projects through the University of Iowa Foundation. Gifts to the foundation for Hancher total nearly $6.3 million. Contributions through the annual giving program, now known as the Hancher Circle Fund, have increased by an average of 25 percent the last three years, and all Hancher series now enjoy corporate sponsorship.

Grants to Hancher from governmental and public agencies account for more than $1.7 million, including more than $1.3 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA funds include two large challenge grants -- a $250,000 grant that launched the auditorium's endowment, the Hancher Auditorium Enrichment Fund in 1982; and a $150,000 grant in 1993 that spurred fundraising for the auditorium's Ovation! campaign, which provided nearly $3 million in repairs and renovations.

NEA grants have also been instrumental in several of Hancher's most important commissioning projects, including the Joffrey Ballet world-premiere productions of "The Nutcracker" and "Billboards," and other projects by artists including Laura Dean, the Kronos Quartet, the Cleveland Quartet, Rinde Eckert, Paul Dresher, Pilobolus, David Parsons, Bill T. Jones, Pro Musica Nipponia, Urban Bush Women and Mark Morris.

In addition, Hancher has been awarded more than a quarter-million dollars from Arts Midwest, a regional agency that combines NEA money with contributions from Midwest corporations, foundations and individuals; more than $77,000 from the Iowa arts council; and smaller amounts from other public agencies.

In recent years, particularly in response to the uncertainties of federal arts funding, Hancher has become more active in competitions for grants from private and corporate foundations. Hancher has attracted more than $400,000 from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, including planning and implementation grants for the current residency activities of the Colorado Quartet.

A new grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund will enable Hancher and network partners in Burlington, Decorah and Pella to develop audiences during several coming seasons. The grant of $302,900 over three years is the largest ever received by Hancher.

Hancher recently completed a quarter-million-dollar series of commissioning projects it shared with On the Boards and Seattle and Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota with funds from the Northwest Area Foundation.

Other foundation support has come from Chamber Music America, the Meet the Composer program, Pioneer Hy-Bred, the US WEST Foundation, the General Mills Foundation, the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the US/Japan Foundation.

Another important financial boost began before the auditorium was even constructed. Hancher was built with bonds retired by UI student activity fees. In return for the student support, Hancher initially offered tickets to students at a $2-per-ticket discount. Once the bonds were paid off, however, Hancher not only continued but also expanded its discounts to UI students. Hancher now offers students a 20-percent discount, and enables students to attend events for no more than $10 whenever contracts with the artists allow.

For additional information on Hancher fundraising, contact Victor Mashburn at the University of Iowa Foundation, (319) 335-3305.