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The Living Legacy Plan

The Living Legacy Plan is a comprehensive roadmap for the future of the Cunningham Dance Foundation, as envisioned by founder Merce Cunningham. The precedent-setting plan represents Cunningham’s vision for continuing his work in the coming years; the transitioning of his Company once he is no longer able to lead MCDC; and the preservation of his oeuvre. The Plan will position the Merce Cunningham Trust – established by Cunningham in 2000 as the successor organization to the Cunningham Dance Foundation – to hold and administer all rights to his choreography after Cunningham’s own involvement in the Foundation ceases.

To support the multifaceted plan, the Cunningham Dance Foundation has launched an $8-million campaign.

[Click to Donate] to the Living Legacy Campaign.

The Living Legacy Plan is the first of its kind in the dance world, and involves systematic preparation, a high-profile international tour, comprehensive documentation and digitizing efforts and, at the appropriate time, a thorough and well-prepared closure of the Cunningham Dance Foundation’s operations and organized handover to the Merce Cunningham Trust. It will enable the Company and its partners worldwide to celebrate Cunningham’s creative achievements and to ensure that present and future generations of students, scholars, artists, and audiences will be able to study and enjoy the work of this groundbreaking artist.

To support the Living Legacy Plan, please contact Tambra Dillon, Director of Institutional Advancement, at (212) 255-8240 x25 or

The Living Legacy Plan currently allows the Cunningham Dance Foundation and MCDC to:

  • Continue to create and perform new work under Cunningham’s leadership, which this year included the premiere of Nearly Ninety and a spring benefit gala on April 16, 2009 – the actual date of Merce’s 90th birthday; maintain its educational and training programs; carry out innovative residencies and performances, such as the recent series of Beacon Events at Dia:Beacon; and continue pioneering new programs like webcast series Mondays with Merce. See MCDC’s upcoming performance schedule.
  • Preserve Cunningham’s oeuvre in digital form by creating dynamic “Dance Capsules” that will document his legacy for future generations and allow ongoing study and enjoyment of his work;

When Cunningham is no longer able to serve as Artistic Director, the following components of the Living Legacy Plan will take effect:

  • Celebrate Cunningham’s work with a world tour and a final performance in New York City;
  • Provide dancers, musicians and staff with compensation and resources for career transition upon closure of Company;
  • Transition to Merce Cunningham Trust, which has been established by Cunningham as the successor organization to the Foundation and will hold and administer all rights to his work.

Download the [Living Legacy Plan PDF] press release.

Photo: Mark Seliger

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