Kelly Strayhorn Theater receives $1.05 million grant

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The Heinz Endowments has awarded a $1.05 million grant to the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty.

Janera Solomon, the theater’s executive director, announced the gift today and said the funds will help the theater increase attendance, create fellowships for artists and broaden the theater's base of donors.

When it opened in 1914 as the Regent Theatre, the building offered seating for 1,100 moviegoers and featured a grand organ that provided accompaniment for silent films.

This fall, the theater marks its centennial. The building was renamed in 2000 for two of Pittsburgh’s outstanding artists: actor, dancer, choreographer and movie director Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, a pianist, jazz composer and arranger who had a lifelong collaboration with Duke Ellington.

The terracotta-trimmed building was restored in the late 1990s and reopened in 2003. Initially, it was used mostly by small theater groups and non-profits that rented the space for receptions and charity benefits.

In 2009, the Kelly Strayhorn began offering original programming and in 2012, it merged with Dance Alloy, which gave it an opportunity to offer dance and movement classes. That year, the theater celebrated its fifth season of offering original programming that includes contemporary dance, music, concerts, theater, fashion events and films.

The grant marks a continuing investment in the theater by the Heinz Endowments. In 2000, the foundation made a grant of $370,000 to the theater.

Marylynne Pitz: 412-263-1648 or

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