Westport Country Playhouse Names Campus in Honor of Howard J. Aibel

by Michael Eddy

Westport Country Playhouse announces that in recognition of a $3 million gift from Howard J. Aibel of Weston, CT, the historic institution will name its entire campus “The Howard J. Aibel Theater Center at Westport Country Playhouse.” Westport recently staged a production of Evita as a part of its resident conservatory Broadway Method Academy. Here's a video discussing the set design of the show:

"I have found live theater to be life transformative,” said Aibel, an active member of the Playhouse board of trustees, currently serving as vice chair. “Being a supporter of Westport Country Playhouse has been a rich and grand experience.”

Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director, noted that since Aibel first joined the board in 2005, “Howard’s passion for and appreciation of our work has been a sustaining force for the Playhouse. His generosity of spirit and his deep understanding of the needs of non-profit sustainability are now evident in the tremendous generosity of this extraordinary gift,” Lamos said. “This is not only financial sustenance; it is spiritual sustainability—his belief now enabling us to create the highest level of work.”

Howard J. Aibel

To date, $1 million of Aibel’s gift has been fulfilled, of which $500,000 is designated for current operations; $500,000 for working capital reserve. A bequest of $2 million to establish an endowment is held in an irrevocable trust.

“The importance of Howard’s gift establishing an endowment can’t be overstated,” said Michael Barker, Playhouse managing director. “While there is still work to do, for the first time in our 87-year history, we can begin to envision a sustainable Playhouse.”

Aibel retired his dispute resolution practice several years ago. He previously retired as a partner of a law firm no longer in existence, Dewey & LeBoeuf, where his focus was on international dispute resolution. Aibel joined the firm after he retired in 1994 from the post of executive vice president and chief legal officer of ITT Corporation, having served as general counsel since 1968. Before joining ITT in 1964, Aibel had been antitrust litigation counsel for the General Electric Company and, prior to that, was associated with the New York law firm of White & Case. He served as president of the Harvard Law School Association of New York, chairman of the board of the American Arbitration Association, vice president of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and a member of the American Law Institute.  

Aibel is chairman emeritus of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/NY, a theatrical arts service and advocacy organization for the not-for-profit theater industry in New York. In addition to serving on the Westport Country Playhouse board of trustees, he was formerly a member of the Conservation Commission of the Town of Weston, CT, and is a trustee emeritus of Sacred Heart University of Fairfield, CT.

“Howard continues to be a champion of the Playhouse’s planned giving program,” said Barbara Streicker, chair of the Playhouse’s board of trustees. “His gift opens an important new chapter in inspiring others to preserve their legacy by including the Playhouse in their estate plans and investing in its future.”

Further information from the Westport Country Playhouse: www.westportplayhouse.org