Berkshire Theatre Group and Artistic Director/CEO Kate Maguire have announced in a press release the generous gift of just over $1 million dollars from the family of the late Mary Anne Gross in honor of her lifetime love of both theatre and the Berkshires.

This award also recognizes the heroic and tireless efforts of Berkshire Theatre Group in producing the first live Actors’ Equity approved musical in the United States in summer 2020, following the shutdown of live performing arts due to the onset of the COVID-19
pandemic in March. The Gross Family will also award just over $1 million to Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company.

The Gross Family gift will support payroll and basic operating costs for the next six months in order to ensure that there are no furloughs or layoffs while the theatre continues to raise funds in support of future artistic programming. A portion of the gift is structured as a matching grant to leverage additional donations for 2021.

“The idea,” said Phill Gross, “is to keep the infrastructure in place so that when the world is ready, they are ready to get back to as close to normal operations as soon as possible.” Mr. Gross is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Adage Capital Management.

The gift came by way of Mary Chris and Alan Bassman, who were seeking a way to honor the recent passing of her mother in December 2019. “We wanted to do something in my mother’s memory that could make a difference in the community and be meaningful to Alan and me,” said Mrs. Bassman. “My mom loved the theater and she exposed me to theater at a young age, which fostered a love for the performing
arts in me. My brother, Phill and his wife Liz have been involved with many non-profits and offered to help with a charitable endeavor that would be meaningful to us. We thought this would be a wonderful and fitting tribute to our mother.”

Mr. Bassman added, “Mary Chris and I have been coming to the Berkshires for 15 years. Two years ago, we bought a condo in Pittsfield. In June we moved here full time. We both love theater and last year were volunteer ushers for the summer. We saw the outdoor performances of both Harry Clarke and Godspell this summer and were moved by the courage, imagination and determination that it took to put on these shows. We felt that it would be a huge loss if these theater companies did not remain viable.”

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Kate Maguire acknowledges, “The arts are critical to the vitality and quality of life. This gift recognizes the economic, educational and cultural importance of all that theatre brings to our community. Berkshire Theatre Group will celebrate 100 years of activity
in the coming decade, this support will lead us to our future.”

(information sent to WSBS from the Berkshire Theatre Group for online and on-air use)