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Berkshire Theatre Group Awarded $1 Million Gift in Honor of Mary Anne Gross

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Theatre Group and Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire announced a generous gift of just over $1 million 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 tireless efforts of Berkshire Theatre Group in producing the first live Actors’ Equity-approved musical in the U.S. this past summer, 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 there are no furloughs or layoffs while the theater 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.

In July, Berkshire Theatre Group’s musical, Godspell, the first musical in the U.S. approved by the Actors’ Equity Assoc. (AEA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, opened a five-week run under a tent outside of the Colonial Theatre. Due to popular demand and critical acclaim, the run was extended for two weeks. The musical ran from Aug. 6 to Sept. 20. Berkshire Theatre Group has just been approved once again by AEA and will present Truman Capote’s Holiday Memories outdoors at its Stockbridge campus from Nov. 20 to Dec. 20.

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,” she said. “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 nonprofits 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.”

Added Maguire, “the arts are critical to the vitality and quality of life. This gift recognizes the economic, educational, and cultural importance of all that theater 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.”

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