IRT celebrates retiring Margot Lacy Eccles Artistic Director Janet Allen’s legacy with a capital campaign that renames the Upperstage Theatre in her honor

Fundraising efforts also support the IRT’s endowment and artistic development

July 1, 2023

Indianapolis, Ind.— On June 6, 2023, the Indiana Repertory Theatre announced its Back to the Future capital campaign as part of a retirement celebration for Janet Allen, the Theatre’s longest-running Margot Lacy Eccles Artistic Director. The $6 million campaign will support the renaming of the Upperstage Theatre to honor Allen’s legacy and career at the IRT, as well as upgrades to the performance space and will add to the IRT’s endowment.

IRT recently closed its 50th Anniversary Season which celebrated the history of the organization, the hopes for the future, and Allen’s impactful tenure. This year-long celebration culminated in an announcement of the renaming of the Upperstage Theatre, one of the IRT’s three performance spaces and one close to Allen’s heart due to the intimate nature of plays produced in that space. This announcement was a surprise for Allen, and the exact naming of the space will be determined at a later date.

On behalf of the Mayor’s office, Deputy Mayor Judith Thomas attended the reception and announced an official proclamation naming June 6, 2023, Janet Allen Day in Indianapolis. In addition to that honor, Allen was awarded the esteemed Sagamore of the Wabash from Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb, joining her with presidents, musicians, citizens, and more in being recognized for their great service to the state and Hoosier heritage.

“Janet has been an integral part of the growth of this organization, not only in financial stability and sustainability, but through the Theatre’s multigenerational art, student programming for Indiana youth, and community involvement,” Managing Director Suzanne Sweeney said. “Naming the Upperstage Theatre in her honor speaks to Janet’s vision, legacy, and hope for the longevity of this arts and culture landmark.”

The campaign, chaired by community leaders Gene Tempel and Michael Harrington, has received $3.5 million in commitments toward the $6 million goal. The money raised will allow for ongoing sustainability endeavors at the IRT, including technical and performance space upgrades, increased support of artistic development, and endowment contributions.

“Leading this campaign to honor Janet, her commitment to the community through art, and engaging Indiana’s audiences has been important,” Gene Tempel said. “As a long-time supporter of the IRT and its work in the community, I believe this campaign can bring this institution some of the greatest gifts–additional financial stability and improved sustainability.”

The IRT extends a special thank you to Sarah and John Lechleiter and the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation for their lead gifts, as well as every donor who has contributed to the success of the campaign thus far.

Janet Allen will officially retire at the end of the month, and Benjamin Hanna will become the IRT’s Margot Lacy Eccles Artistic Director and co-lead the institution with Suzanne Sweeney. To contribute to the campaign and IRT’s next 50 years, gifts can be made by contacting Suzanne Sweeney at


Founded in 1971, the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is the largest professional not-for-profit theatre in the state and one of the leading regional theatres in the country. The mission of the Indiana Repertory Theatre is to produce top-quality, professional theatre and related activities, providing experiences that will engage, surprise, challenge, and entertain people throughout their lifetimes, helping us build a vital and vibrant community.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA): The IRT strives to celebrate and serve the diverse people and cultures that make up our whole community. The IRT is committed to providing access for all; to creating and maintaining an antiracist theatre that is inclusive, safe, and respectful.

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