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$5 million gift to Joffrey Ballet is largest in company’s history

The Joffrey Ballet performs Alexander Ekman's "Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Auditorium Theatre. | Cheryl Mann

Long-time Chicago philanthropist Mary Galvin now has a position at the Joffrey Ballet named in her honor, after a $5 million endowment gift to the ballet — the largest in Joffrey history.

The dance company on Monday announced the donation from the Paul Galvin Memorial Trust Fund.

Ashley Wheater’s title is now Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director effective immediately, according to a Joffrey press release. The ballet company will receive $2.5 million installments for each of the next two years.

“Words can hardly express how grateful we are to the Galvins for their generosity and loving spirit,” Wheater was quoted as saying in the release. “For me personally, this is a truly humbling moment and one that I will cherish.”

Galvin was “instrumental in carving a philanthropic niche” for Joffrey Ballet when it first arrived in Chicago, according to the release. She helped establish the Joffrey Academy of Dance and commission the Chicago-based adaptation of The Nutcracker, among other accomplishments.

This is far from Galvin’s first monetary contribution; the trust fund is registered as one of the company’s top givers each year.

“There might not be a Joffrey today if not for her example,” board director Bruce Sagan was quoted as saying in the release.