BECKET — Jacob’s Pillow will hold in-person performances this summer, the organization announced Thursday.
Pillow officials also said that the historic Ted Shawn Theatre will undergo substantial renovations, including the addition of an air conditioning system.
In-person performances will take place this summer at a multiplatform on-site and virtual festival, according to a news release.
“The Pillow has endured, despite experiencing the toughest year in our history with the cancellation of Festival 2020 and the tragic loss of the Doris Duke Theatre,” Jacob’s Pillow executive and artistic director Pamela Tatge said in the release. “We put these losses in the context of all of the tragedy our country, and the world, has experienced this past year.
“Back in 2017, we set ambitious goals for the future and the evolution of Jacob’s Pillow. We have had extraordinary momentum thanks to the generosity of our Board and the many donors who understand the importance of investing in dance and artists.
“There is still so much to do, but with the support of our community … I’m confident that we will complete the final chapter of our plan, the Ted Shawn Theatre renovation, in time for our 90th anniversary in 2022.”
The organization also announced the launch of a public campaign — Dance We Must — to raise the remaining $2 million of its $22 million Vision ‘22 strategic plan.
The Ted Shawn Theatre, built in 1942 by Joseph Franz, who also designed Tanglewood’s Koussevitzky Music Shed, is the first performance space in the country designed specifically for dance. It has undergone several updates in the intervening years.
Renovations will include:
• New eco-friendly, ice-chilled air conditioning and ventilation system.
• New orchestra pit for live music, which will be replaced with seating when not in use.
• Enhanced artist accessibility backstage and new accessible audience seating.
• Stage depth will increase by 10 feet.
• New industry standard electrical system with three-phase power that can support incandescent fixtures as well as eco-friendly LED theatrical lighting.
• Expanded clearance height from 17 feet to 25 feet, allowing for more complex productions, rigging and fly systems.
• New indoor artist crossover (replacing current outdoor crossover).
• New stage house and a lower level that will include new dressing rooms, wardrobe spaces, an elevator, accessible ramp system, and a maintenance room to host the new air conditioning and ventilation system.
The multiplatform dance festival, which will take place June 30 to Aug. 29, will feature in-person, outdoor performances from leading dance artists across genres. It also will include talks, classes, exhibitions and site-specific works.
On-site and virtual professional training programs will be offered at The School at Jacob’s Pillow — all under strict COVID-19 protocols. Additional details will be announced in April.
“It is vital that we help to put artists back to work this summer and we know that audiences are longing to come together again, provided there are strong COVID-19 safety protocols in place,” Tatge said. “We are excited to give many of the Festival artists residencies on campus just prior to their engagement so that they have the time and space they need to prepare to perform for live audiences again.
“All Pillow performances will have limited capacities due to social distancing requirements. Those who aren’t able to visit in person will have the chance to view these performances online, joining the thousands of audiences around the U.S. and abroad who experienced the Pillow for the first time last summer.”
Vision ’22 was established in 2017 and is led by Tatge. Its goals are “strengthening the Pillow’s artistic core, boosting civic leadership and community engagement, and renewing campus facilities,” according to the release. “Two threads run through all of the plan’s activities: strengthening inclusion, diversity, equity, and access at the Pillow; and advancing environmental sustainability.”
Of the $22 million needed to accomplish the plan’s goals, $2 million remains to be raised. The Dance We Must fundraising campaign is designed to raise that sum by April 2022, in advance of the Pillow’s 90th anniversary Festival.
“It was a real challenge to come this far without an anchor gift,” Tatge said. “In 2019, the family of treasured Pillow Trustee member Wendy McCain stepped forward with that gift. I’m so grateful to Wendy and her daughter, Dr. Victoria Nosler, who serves on the Board of the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Foundation and recommended a grant of $3 million towards the Ted Shawn Theatre renovation, in honor of her mother.”
Components of Vision ’22 include:
• Expansion of year-round artistic programming, including the Pillow Lab, a redesigned artist residency program and an incubator of new work that has supported the development of work by more than 40 companies over the past four years.
• Creation of a community engagement department and new programs that are grounded in long-term reciprocal relationships with community partners.
• Expanded convenings for dance administrators and practitioners from across the U.S. on topics ranging from dance for social change to the intersection of medicine and embodied movement practice.
• Expansion of Blake’s Barn, home to Jacob’s Pillow’s renowned archives, including a new special collections room, climate-controlled exhibition spaces and additional storage space for archival materials. The expansion is scheduled to be complete in time for Festival 2021.
• The Perles Family Studio, a 7,300-square-foot, year-round rehearsal and convertible, informal performance space, home to The School at Jacob’s Pillow, which was completed in 2017.
• New four-season campus housing for more than three dozen interns and seasonal staff, also completed in 2017.
The campaign title is inspired by statements made by Jacob’s Pillow founder Ted Shawn during World War II: “Jacob’s Pillow has great and necessary work to do ... and we must carry on no matter what the difficulties ... Dance we must!”