Nora Roberts Foundation
The Nora Roberts Foundation has played a significant role in moving Shepherd University and the Contemporary American Theater forward. The foundation's early support of the Shepherd Create the Future campaign helped encourage others to participate in the campaign.
The Nora Roberts Foundation is the family foundation of nationally acclaimed romance novelist Nora Roberts. The primary mission of the foundation is focused on supporting literacy. In addition, the foundation supports children's programs, arts organizations, and humanitarian efforts. The Nora Roberts Foundation's gift to the campaign has been targeted to help build Shepherd's Center for Contemporary Arts.
Jason Aufdem-Brinke, one of Nora Roberts' two sons, has been coordinating the foundation's efforts supporting the campaign. Aufdem-Brinke commented, "We're enthusiastic about plans for the Center for Contemporary Arts which will include a theater space for the University and the Contemporary American Theater Festival. The region will be greatly enriched by the performances and the art exhibits that the center will present."
Aufdem-Brinke is a theater artist himself. He is the resident lighting designer for the Maryland Shakespeare Festival in Frederick, Maryland, and has worked at a wide range of regional theaters including Cirque Voila, Washington Shakespeare Company, Imagination Stage, and Adventure Theater. His wife, Kathryn Pong, is an artist working in scenic design and painting as well as sound, set, and props design. She is currently the technical director of Discovery Theater.
"Like novels, theater is a storytelling medium," stated Ed Herendeen, producing director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival. "It's been a natural fit working with Jason and the Nora Roberts Foundation. The support will help build a creative study lab and a national showcase for the arts. The Center for Contemporary Arts will enable Shepherd University to attract not only the nation's finest theater and visual artists and students, but also will draw many thousands of visitors from across the country to our region."
Jason Aufdem-Brinke (r.) and Ed Herendeen, producing director of Shepherd's Contemporary American Theater Festival