Star Wars creator George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, are donating $25 million to the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools to aid in the construction of an arts building. This is in addition to the $25 million donation they made last year to the charity program After School Matters – which was founded by late Chicago first lady, Maggie Daley.
The hall will named in honor of Gordon Parks. Parks was the first African-American photographer to work for Life Magazine, and he was the first African-American to direct a major Hollywood movie. He is best known for directing the 1971 film Shaft. He was also a novelist, a poet, and a composer.
Lucas and his wife issued these statements to the media:
“It was important to us that the University of Chicago campus have a building named for an African American, given the diverse community in which it sits, and the outstanding contributions to our society by people of color,” Hobson said.
And from Lucas: “We believe in the power of art to transform lives and communities. Gordon Parks’ work did just that.”
The fundraising campaign for the arts hall had hoped to raise $40 million, but this gift from the George Lucas Family Foundation helped to boost the total amount raised to $80 million.
The Laboratory Schools has an enrollment of 1,770 students, ranging from nursery school through 12th grade. The Gordon Parks Arts Hall will be a 3-story, 86,000 square foot facility that will feature a 700-seat auditorium, 250-seat theater, 150-seat drama studio, as well as four art studios. The construction cost is estimated at $43.7 million, and the plan is for the hall to open in 2015.
(Source: Chicago Tribune)
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