The SAG-AFTRA Foundation will open the Meryl Streep Center in LA next year3 min read
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is set to break ground next month on a 15,000-square-foot facility at the union’s Mid-Wilshire headquarters that will be a central hub for the foundation’s educational, career development and event activities in the Los Angeles area.
The Meryl Streep Center for Performing Artists will be built on the 10th floor of SAG-AFTRA’s longtime home in the famous Museum Square building. It is expected to open its doors early next year, thanks to support for its namesake, a three-time Oscar winner who is one of the most famous actors of all time. The facility will also feature the Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Screening Room, equipped with high-end technology to host screenings, panels and educational programs.
News of the Meryl Streep Center was unveiled by SAG-AFTRA Foundation President Courtney B. Vance on Sunday evening during the 29th annual SAG Awards at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel.
“We are thrilled to name our new Center for Performing Artists in honor of Meryl Streep, a stalwart leader and longtime supporter of our foundation whose craft and commitment to her community are worthy of this recognition,” said Vance. “We are also excited to announce that our new screening room will be named in honor of two additional champions of our foundation, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, whose key support, especially during times of crisis in our industry, meant we never missed a beat. When our members needed us.”
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation was founded in 1985 (as the SAG Foundation prior to the 2012 merger of the performers’ unions) as a charitable organization to support actors and other performers in need. Since 1994, the foundation has received support from a portion of the proceeds from the SAG Awards, which operates as a for-profit entity separate from the union and the foundation.
The Meryl Streep Center will complement the West Coast location of the Robin Williams Center that the SAG-AFTRA Foundation opened in midtown Manhattan in 2016. Like its New York counterpart, the Los Angeles facility will feature an on-camera and voiceover recording studio, technology displays. Labs, classroom space and other infrastructure designed to help performers hone their skills and develop their careers.
“I’ve always thought that actors should have more places to go where they can not only fully express themselves — but grow professionally,” Streep said. “The pandemic shook our industry as we knew it, and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation was critical in helping performers. That’s why I feel honored to attach my name to a center where performing artists can come together to collaborate while getting the support and services they need. This exciting new space for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation will be a tremendous asset to any performer looking to hone their craft and find community.”
Hanks and Wilson, who are much admired in the industry as actors and for their enduring marriage, echoed Streep’s sentiments. The screening room is expected to host more than 200 events a year.
“Rita and I have been very fortunate in our lives and careers, so we’ve always felt it’s important to give back to our fellow artists and support them on their journey, especially during times of hardship and crisis,” Hanks said. “So the fact that sometime next year, thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists in LA will be attending the program in a brand new screening room named after us is heartwarming and humbling.”
Wilson said she was “humbled and deeply grateful” to have her name on a key component of the Meryl Streep Center. She emphasized the important role SAG-AFTRA plays in the professional lives of thespians.
“When I got my SAG card in 1971 I could never have imagined anything like this honor. Just being a member and a working actor was enough of a privilege,” Wilson said. “We care deeply about our fellow SAG-AFTRA artists, and believe that the communities we build are key to personal and professional success. The Meryl Streep Center for Performing Artists will be an amazing facility for the entire SAG-AFTRA membership and we are so grateful to be a part of it.”
Since its formation in 1985, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has distributed more than $18.6 million in emergency financial and health assistance as well as disaster relief for actors. It has awarded more than $9.2 million in scholarship funds.
(Above photo: A rendering of the entrance to the Meryl Streep Center for Performing Artists)