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Julia Morgan Center Merges With Berkeley Playhouse, Expands Programs

The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts announced today that it has merged with Berkeley Playhouse. The unification of the two well-respected organizations will expand already successful programs, create efficiencies, and strengthen the core missions of both.

The Julia Morgan Center is a historic landmark, offering rehearsal, meeting and performance space to a variety of resident and community groups. Over the past several years, the Center has undergone significant updates and renovations, as well as planning for improvements to its audience and performance spaces. Berkeley Playhouse is a critically acclaimed musical theater company for all ages, entertaining tens of thousands of patrons each year, and serving hundreds of children and adults through its education and outreach programs.

The two organizations' core missions are very similar. It is expected that they will complement and strengthen each other in terms of financial and human resources and community support, building on the trend of growth and success each has enjoyed separately over the past several years.

Prior to the merger, the two organizations already shared office space at the historic College Avenue location, and all of Berkeley Playhouse's 2009-2010 season shows were booked at the Julia Morgan stage.

Jerry R. Foust, the current General Manager of Berkeley Playhouse, will become Managing Director for the combined organizations, which will share a total budget of nearly $1 million. As part of the merger, the combined entities are developing a board of respected community and arts leaders, to be announced shortly.

In addition to being a home for Berkeley Playhouse programs, the Julia Morgan Center will continue to work closely with its two other resident organizations, Berkeley Ballet Theater and Heart's Leap Pre-School, and will also continue to be a rental home for a wide diversity of Bay Area arts groups, offering one of the best mid-sized theater spaces in the East Bay.

"We are delighted with the combination of these two entities into a thriving non-profit," said Tim Choate, Board President of the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Inc. "Together, there is a great opportunity to expand our reach to serve more families, children and schools throughout the East Bay, and this core of programs will give the Julia Morgan a true identity and niche in the community."

"I believe that the Berkeley Playhouse and Julia Morgan Center together will make theatre more accessible for families and children by providing them with quality programming at affordable prices in a beautiful venue. I look forward to watching this entity thrive and gain recognition over the coming decades," said Karen Racanelli, Berkeley Playhouse Advisory Board Member and General Manager, Berkeley Repertory Theater.

"The Julia Morgan Center is a perfect venue for our programs. With the recent building improvements, it offers an environment that is comfortable for audiences of all ages, while retaining a historic quality, and adding a unique, modern intimacy to our productions," said Elizabeth McKoy, Artistic Director of Berkeley Playhouse.

Foust, who has over 15 year experience working in education and non-profit management, added, "While non-profits across the country are struggling, both the Julia Morgan and Berkeley Playhouse continue to grow and improve. By combining efforts, we are setting the stage for a long, rich legacy of serving the community with meaningful theatre and arts education opportunities."


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