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(SAN DIEGO, CA) - Cygnet Theatre Company, under the leadership of Artistic Director, Sean Murray, and Executive Director, Bill Schmidt, has been selected as one of four San Diego arts organizations to receive grants from the San Francisco-based The James Irvine Foundation as part of its Arts Regional Initiative. The grants are intended to increase the financial stability of the selected arts organizations and to increase cultural participation. Cygnet Theatre will receive $325,000, over the next three years of the initiative, with a specific focus on expanding its audience and deepening patrons' experiences, as well as developing a strong strategic plan.
Cygnet Theatre was founded in 2003 by Bill Schmidt and Sean Murray. In just six short years, Cygnet has grown from a fledgling theatre with a yearly budget of $200K to a San Diego arts leader with an annual budget of $1.5M and an outstanding artistic reputation. Cygnet's first six seasons received over 60 awards for artistic excellence and in 2007 and 2008 the San Diego Critic's Circle named Cygnet's productions of Yellowman and Fences the top dramatic productions in the city. Annual attendance has increased from 8,160 to over 30,000, and in 2008 Cygnet successfully raised over $1M to renovate the Old Town Theatre in the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
"This came at a truly perfect time," said Bill Schmidt, Executive Director of Cygnet Theatre. "With our recent move to Old Town and our desire to introduce more San Diegans to Cygnet, we are incredibly grateful for this support from The James Irvine Foundation." James E Canales, the Irvine Foundation's President and CEO, stated, "In this tough economy, we want to underscore our commitment to these regional arts organizations as they explore new ways of achieving financial sustainability and attracting culturally diverse audiences."