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From “New College Theatre” to Farkas Hall

10.25.11

The intimate performance space, seen from the stage, is equipped with thoroughly modern theater technology.

The intimate performance space, seen from the stage, is equipped with thoroughly modern theater technology.

Photograph by Alan Karchmer/Esto

Andrew Farkas

Andrew Farkas

Photograph ©Steve Friedman, 2010

The New College Theatre, created from 2005 to 2007 by new construction behind, and a renovation of, the façade of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals venue, finally has a name. The University announced today that Andrew L. Farkas ’82 had endowed the complex in honor of his father, Robin L. Farkas ’54, M.B.A. ’61. Andrew Farkas, who served as Hasty Pudding Club president during two of his undergraduate years, called his times there “amongst the most joyful and memorable” of his College experiences, according to the news release. “To know that the space will…serve to incubate the creative skills of Harvard’s emerging talent,” his statement continued, “is extremely gratifying.”

Farkas founded and was CEO and chairman of Insignia Financial Group Inc., a leading owner-operator of multifamily housing and provider of commercial real-estate leasing and management services. After its units were sold and merged, respectively, in 1998 and 2003, he founded Island Capital Group, a real-estate merchant bank, where he is CEO and chairman, and Island Global Yachting, which owns and operates yacht-oriented resorts.

In prior Harvard service, he was co-chair of the class of 1982’s twenty-fifth reunion fundraising efforts, which produced a class gift of $22.8 million in 2007. The newly announced philanthropy (the terms and size of which were not disclosed) comes as he is approaching his thirtieth reunion next May. Daughter Arielle S. Farkas is a member of the class of 2013.

Beyond his undergraduate theatrical experience, according to the news release, his wife, Sandi Goff Farkas, is a playwright; she founded the nonprofit Playwrights of New York to support emerging writers and serves on the board of Lark Play Development Group, in New York. 

The New College Theatre, at 12 Holyoke Street, was constructed when the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was willing to proceed on projects before outside financing had been secured; the project cost a reported $31 million. Since the 2008 financial crisis and recession, the University has reduced debt financing for building projects. The Hasty Pudding structure, dating from 1888, had deteriorated and was in need of urgent repairs; the renovation grew into a more ambitious program to provide badly needed undergraduate rehearsal and performance space—the first such new facility since the Loeb Drama Center opened in 1961.

As an arts venue, the theater within the newly named Farkas Hall, which seats 256 to 280, has become a focal point for undergraduate theatrical productions, as well as the annual Hasty Pudding extravaganza (it is also home to the Harvard Krokodiloes and Radcliffe Pitches a cappella groups), and is frequently used for lectures, guest-artist appearances, and other College programming. 

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