Ensemble Theatre Receives $75,000 Matching Challenge for 2012 Founder's Circle Campaign

In conjunction with the opening of its 36th season -- Bridge Art to the Heart, The Ensemble Theatre board of directors announces receipt of a $75,000 matching challenge from longtime supporters, Becky and Ralph S. O'Connor. In support of The Ensemble Theatre's 2012 inaugural Founder's Circle campaign and theatre endowment, the O'Connors will match, dollar-for-dollar, up to $75,000, when The Ensemble raises $75,000 in additional funds for the Founder's Circle. The matching funds will be dedicated to the enhancement of The Ensemble Theatre's endowment.

Through the generosity of the O'Connors, The Ensemble Theatre board and staff is encouraging the Houston community and others to help them match the challenge by making donations by Wednesday, October 31, 2012.

"Successfully matching the challenge will help to ensure The Ensemble Theatre sustains the financial resources to support its artistic excellence," said The Ensemble Theatre board chair, Argentina James.

The O'Connors serve as honorary chairs of the Founder's Circle campaign, along with Audrey and the Rev. William A. Lawson, and Michelle and Reggie Hedgebeth. Under the leadership of the honorary chairs, $175,000 was raised prior to the matching challenge. The Ensemble Theatre Founder's Circle is a leadership giving group of diverse investors and stewards committed to ensuring the theatre continues as Houston's premier center for African-American artistic expression.

For additional information visit: www.ensemblehouston.com/founders or call 713-520-0055.

The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African-American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. This theatre is known as the only professional theatre in its region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African-American experience. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African-American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African-American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team. Board President Emeritus, Audrey Lawson, led the capital campaign for The Ensemble's $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997.

The Ensemble Theatre produces a main stage season of six contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African-American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre's Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-In-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre; and the Young Performers Program offers intensive summer training for youth ages six to 17, encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts. Through its varied programs, The Ensemble Theatre benefits an audience and artistic constituency of approximately 65,000 people annually.

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