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David Geffen Gifts $150 million to Yale School of Drama

David Geffen also funds The David Geffen Auditorium in Jerusalem.

David Geffen Auditorium ((Simulated image Herzog de Meuron, Mann-Shinar Architects)

Entertainment mogul David Geffen has donated $150 million to the Yale School of Drama. The money will be used to make the school’s program tuition-free for all of its students. This comes after David Geffen endowed an auditorium for The National Library of Israel (NLI) now under construction.

The David Geffen Auditorium will be located at the new NLI campus which is being built up in the Givat Ram area of Jerusalem. The location is right by the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University which hosts the school’s humanities and social science divisions. It is also just opposite Israel’s government complex where the Knesset and ministry office buildings are located.

The new theater will have 480 seats and hold 5,000 square feet of space. The auditorium’s rear stage will have a 24-foot high glass curtain wall, through which the audience will be able to view the campus’s Idan and Batia Ofer Park, which offers a public outdoor amphitheater, plaza, and pedestrian area.

NLI stated that “The David Geffen Auditorium will be a centerpiece of the new campus, playing host to concerts, conferences, lectures, film screenings, performances and other special events produced by NLI, as well as other institutions and organizations.”

Simulated image of David Geffen Auditorium (Herzog de Meuron Mann Shinar Architects)

As for David Geffen’s incredible largesse that he granted to Yale, its school is now called the David Geffen School of Drama. This is the school that boasts Oscar nominees and winners like Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, and Lupita Nyong’o among their alumni. The $150 million donation was the largest on record in the history of American theater.

“It’s an honor to partner with Yale University to create the first tuition-free drama school of its kind in the nation,” said Geffen, who taught a course at Yale in the late 1970s. “Yale is well known for having one of the most respected drama programs in the country. So, when they approached me with this opportunity, I knew Yale was the right place to begin to change the way we think about funding arts education. “

“Yale already provides some of the best professional training available to actors, writers, directors, designers, and theater managers from diverse backgrounds. Removing the tuition barrier will allow an even greater diversity of talented people to develop and hone their skills in front of, on, and behind Yale’s stages. I hope this gift will inspire others to support similar efforts to increase accessibility and affordability for arts education at colleges and universities across the country.”

“David Geffen’s gift will be transformative for us at the School and for the American theater at large,” said James Bundy ’95 M.F.A., the School’s Elizabeth Parker Ware Dean and its leader since 2002. “Full tuition support of our training will help us attract talent from the broadest possible spectrum of potential applicants, and it sends a clear message that Yale is a place where a stimulating mix of gifted students can devote their energies first and foremost to artistry. This will lead to a fuller representation of our society in every aspect of professional practice.

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