UK & World News

  • 25 February 2014, 18:43

George Lucas Donates $25m To Chicago School

Filmmaker George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson have donated $25m to a prestigious school in Chicago.

The grant from The George Lucas Family Foundation will pay for a new arts hall at the University of Chicago's Laboratory Schools.

The school, in Hyde Park, has about 1,800 students in nursery school through to 12th grade.

The 86,000sq ft building will open in 2015 and will be named after Gordon Parks, a photographer, musician and social justice advocate.

Lucas said in a statement that he hopes Parks' legacy will inspire future generations.

"We believe in the power of art to transform lives and communities," the Star Wars creator said. 

"Gordon Parks' work did just that.

"Keeping his example at the heart of one of the nation's outstanding urban schools will serve to inspire future generations for many years to come."

Parks made 10 films during his career, including the popular 1971 private-eye thriller Shaft.

The accomplished photographer was renowned for his focus on American culture, particularly in the areas of race relations, poverty and civil rights. He died in 2006 aged 93.

Ms Hobson, who is president of Chicago-based Ariel Investments, said: "It was important to us that the University of Chicago campus have a building named for an African American, given the diverse community in which it sits, and the outstanding contributions to our society by people of colour."

The university said the Gordon Parks Arts Hall will consist of an art gallery, a 700-seat performance auditorium, a 250-seat theatre, a 150-seat drama studio, four art studios and a digital media and photography lab.

The centre will also house rehearsal spaces, practice rooms, a theatre scenery shop and a costume shop.

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