June 25, 2018

The Joffrey’s Ashley Wheater will assume the title of The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director


CHICAGO – June 25, 2018 – The Joffrey Ballet has received a $5 million endowment gift from the Paul Galvin Memorial Foundation Trust in honor of Mary B. Galvin, a long-time supporter and Board Director of the Joffrey, to establish The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director position. The gift will be distributed in two installments of $2.5 million over the next two years. Effective immediately, Ashley Wheater will assume the title of The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director. The Galvin Foundation gift is the largest single endowment gift in Joffrey history, and the first to name a position at the Joffrey.


“Mary and her family’s dedication to the Joffrey has been remarkable,” said Wheater. “Over many years, their foundation has provided the financial support for opportunities that otherwise would never have happened. Words can hardly express how grateful we are to the Galvins for their generosity and loving spirit. For me personally, this is a truly humbling moment and one that I will cherish.”


“This is a rare type of endowment for a major dance company,” added Joffrey Board Chair Zachary Lazar. “Like all of us, the Galvin family believes in Ashley and the future of the Joffrey. I know they would prefer that the attention be focused elsewhere, but this is an opportunity to acknowledge their commitment to the performing arts, along with Mary’s place in history as one of Chicago’s great arts patrons. Mary knew long ago that the Joffrey was special. She worked tirelessly to make sure that everyone else knew it too.”


Statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel


“The Galvin family recognizes that exceptional leadership is at the heart of any thriving organization,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The Joffrey has been an example of national excellence for the last decade, and when local organizations thrive, so does Chicago. My sincere thanks to the Galvins for continuing to invest in our city’s great cultural institutions and its future.” 


Mary B. Galvin and The Joffrey Ballet


Mary B. Galvin has played a vital role in shaping the Joffrey since its arrival in Chicago more than 20 years ago. As a founding board member, Galvin was instrumental in carving a philanthropic niche to establish the Joffrey as Chicago’s resident ballet company.


“There were considerable obstacles when the founding board first discussed bringing the Joffrey to Chicago,” said longtime Board Director Bruce Sagan. “Mary was among the first to make a significant personal and financial commitment. Her determination was unwavering even then. There might not be a Joffrey today if not for her example.”


"The Galvin family is one of the great philanthropic families in Chicago," added Board Director and Galvin family friend Shelley MacArthur Farley. "Mary Galvin was incredibly important and influential in bringing the Joffrey to Chicago in 1995. Now she and her family have most generously given this extraordinary gift. I am overjoyed that her name will be forever tied to the Joffrey. I am so pleased to not only be a personal friend of the Galvin family but to have also been the catalyst to secure The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director position. It is more than well deserved.”


Together with her peers, Galvin oversaw and contributed to several of the Joffrey’s foundational milestones that established the Company as one of the world’s premier cultural organizations, including the construction of Joffrey Tower in the heart of downtown Chicago, the creation of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, the Rudolf Nureyev Fund at The Joffrey Ballet (the Joffrey’s first permanent endowment), retiring organizational debt, and the commissioning of Christopher Wheeldon’s blockbuster adaptation of The Nutcracker, set in Chicago. Galvin was also partly responsible for recruiting Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron to join the Joffrey.


Galvin’s consistent annual support has allowed the Joffrey to thrive. For over a decade, the Paul Galvin Memorial Foundation Trust has registered as one of the Joffrey’s top five general operating gifts annually—an extraordinary financial commitment.


The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director


The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director position represents a significant investment for the long-term future of The Joffrey Ballet.


The Artistic Director creates the culture for the dancers, sets the artistic vision, and produces a meaningful experience for more than 100,000 audience members each year. The ability to attract and retain top artistic directors in the future will require increasing sums of money to remain competitive while keeping a world-class product and company thriving. The $5 million gift from the Galvin Foundation to name and endow the Artistic Director position ensures that the level of artistry that Ashley Wheater has brought to the Company will be sustained in perpetuity.


“My mother and our family have a deep love and appreciation for the Joffrey, which has flourished under Ashley’s direction,” said Christopher Galvin. “We are so fortunate to be a part of its history, and we take immense pride knowing that the Joffrey leadership will remain the best in the world for years to come.”  


About The Joffrey Ballet­­


Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its Company, audiences, and repertoire, which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.


The Company’s commitment to accessibility is met through an extensive touring schedule, an innovative and highly effective education program, including the much-lauded Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, Community Engagement programs and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.


Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.

For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, visit Connect with the Joffrey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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