Foundation puts $2 million toward renovation

The Public Theater has scored a $2 million grant from the Ford Foundation to put toward the ongoing renovation of the legit company’s downtown home, now on track to be completed by summer 2012.

Grant was announced Wednesday evening at a Ford Foundation screening of doc “Joe Papp in Five Acts,” about the Public’s founder. The Public’s new lobby will be named after the foundation, a philanthropic grantmaker.

The Ford coin pushes the nonprofit theater’s fund-raising tally to almost $38 million, just shy of the $40 million overall cost of the building update. Ford’s chunk of change is the second-largest to be earmarked for the project, behind the $28 million provided by the city of New York.

Extensive refurbishment of the Public, which began last year, includes an expanded lobby, a remodeled entrance, expanded restrooms and new HVAC systems.

Programming has remained housed in the building during renovation, with current offerings including “The Agony and the Ecstasty of Steve Jobs,” “Love’s Labors Lost” and a production of “King Lear” toplined by Sam Waterston.

Public intends to fete the renovation with a reopening in fall 2012.

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