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