Christel DeHaan Family Foundation awards $35,000 to Conner Prairie in support of museum theater program


    Duane Brodt
    Director of Public Relations
    Conner Prairie
    (800) 966-1836

    FISHERS, Ind. (Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016) – The board of directors of the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation has awarded a $35,000 grant to Conner Prairie that will help bolster its museum theater program.

    Since opening in 1974, Conner Prairie has utilized various theatrical methods to help visitors imagine themselves in a different time and space. As the museum has evolved from an historic site focused on pioneer life to a dynamic, multi-disciplinary place of community engagement, its use of immersive theater has grown and changed.

    Presentations today have expanded from characters inhabiting a pioneer village to pop-up, improvisational occurrences, mixed-media performances and scripted plays.

    “Over many years, we have employed different kinds of theater, especially in our daily improvisational living history interpretation,” said Dr. Catherine Hughes, who oversees Conner Prairie’s daily interpretation operation. “We have reached the point where we need to create a more robust museum theater program that will offer collaborative opportunities with outside partners to present new, quality scripts and performances, serve diverse audiences and challenge people to see history in new ways.”

    The Christel DeHaan Family Foundation grant will allow Conner Prairie to hire theater professionals and secure new stage and technical equipment, props and costumes for the program.

    Conner Prairie has been partnering with Asante Children’s Theatre on a pilot initiative called Giving Voice, which included hosting an African-American playwright-in-residence last year who wrote a series of short plays highlighting African-American stories from Indiana’s history. Staged readings of the plays were performed at Conner Prairie, the Phoenix Theater and Indiana Landmarks earlier this year.

    The Christel DeHaan Family Foundation was founded in 1993 as the RCI Foundation before reorganizing into a private family foundation in 1997. Since, foundation board members have overseen grants in excess of $50 million to arts, education, child welfare and human need organizations. Currently, the foundation provides grant support to organizations that provide valuable contributions to the development and enhancement of the arts in central Indiana.

    Spanning 800 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes nearly 390,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.


     # # #

    Conner Prairie's mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences. Created by Eli Lilly in 1934, Conner Prairie combines history with science, technology, engineering and math and encourages visitors to explore Indiana’s natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive and interactive experiences. Inspiring visitors of all ages to discover more about the events, discoveries and forces that shaped the American Midwest, Conner Prairie offers various historically themed, indoor and outdoor experience areas throughout its 800 acres of wooded property in Fishers, Ind. Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that relies on grants and philanthropic donations from corporations and individuals for sustainability and growth. Visit connerprairie.org or call (800) 966-1836 for admission dates, hours, ticket prices and opportunities to donate and volunteer. Conner Prairie is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.