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Sent on Mormon-News: 21Apr01

By Mark Wright

Boston Businessman Creates New Kind of Theater

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- Boston Massachusetts is an artsy town, well-known for its many cultural attractions and the sophisticated nature of its audiences. Thanks to the efforts of a man raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Boston's reputation as a Mecca for the arts is about to take yet another bold step forward.

Greg Carr, entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist, was brought up in an LDS family in Idaho Falls, Idaho. However, from his perspective, his upbringing was not overtly or deeply religious. "I was brought up to basically believe in the Sermon on the Mount," he says. Now, far removed from the potato fields of Idaho, Carr has recently completed the construction of the Market Theater, a state-of-the-art, 110-seat performance house for off-beat theater productions that just opened its doors in the Grendel's Den building in Boston's Harvard Square. Carr's efforts to create a new kind of venue, and to produce cutting-edge theater, are more than a little out of the mainstream for the theater business in general and not a typical venture for someone like Carr, a person with very little background in the theater.

By any measure, if someone can pull off the successful creation of an avant-garde theater for experimental productions, Carr should be the man. He began his career by majoring in history at Utah State University, then moved east and studied government at Harvard's prestigious Kennedy School. While studying the philosophy of government, Carr used his mind to explore the possibilities of emerging technologies and the application of technology to life's problems. Eventually, Carr settled on the burgeoning telephone industry as an ideal place to apply his creative thinking. Carr's intuition and efforts led him to create a telecommunications company, Boston Technology, shortly after the breakup of AT&T.

Carr's Boston Technology group began developing large voice mail systems and, according to Carr, eventually wound up being the largest provider of voice mail technology to telephone companies around the world. When Boston Technology was acquired by Comverse Technology for $843 million in stock, Carr moved on and, in 1996, became the chairman of Prodigy where turned his attention to creating one of the first international Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Eventually, Carr found himself a wealthy man with the resources to pursue other interests. And pursue them he did.

Carr's list of contributions to various causes is most impressive. After the creation of his namesake Gregory C. Carr Foundation, Carr donated $18 million to the Kennedy School to establish the Carr Center for Human Rights. It is the largest gift ever from an alum to the Kennedy School. In 1999, Carr put up $500,000 to finance the building of an Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, Idaho. The following year, he donated another $500,000 to the Idaho Human Rights Education Center, also located in Boise. Carr also donated $4.2 million to the Willard Arts Center in Idaho Falls where the art gallery is named for his parents, Dr. Taylor and Betty Carr.

Not satisfied with just being another philanthropist, Carr also became involved with the international human rights movement after meeting Chinese dissident Harry Woo in 1995. He started exploring ways to combine technology with human rights and, in partnership with a group of Kenyan MIT students, developed an entity called Africa On Line. In addition, Carr successfully established not-for-profit divisions within Prodigy that helped bring Internet technologies to remote communities in China and Mexico.

Given his track record to date, it's obvious that Carr's efforts to create a new kind of theatre for unknown artists in Boston will receive Carr's best efforts. Further, while his current status in the Church is unknown, few would doubt that Carr's dedication to improving the lives of the people in Boston and around the world will meet with the approval of true Christians everywhere.


Greg Carr's dramatic new venture
Boston Globe pgD01 17Apr01 B2
By Maureen Dezell: Globe Staff


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