WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

ARTS & CULTURE

Juilliard School Announces $20 Million Gift for Early Music.” By James R. Oestreich. New York Times. January 16, 2012. Devotees of early music in New York may be experiencing whiplash. The year began in inspiriting fashion, with the Green Mountain Project’s superb annual presentation of Vespers music by Monteverdi, sponsored by Trinity Church at the Church of St. Jean Baptiste. Then, days later, a bleak midwinter seemed to settle in, when Trinity declared a hiatus in its own music program, suspending the activities of its excellent Trinity Choir and Baroque Orchestra at least until March. Now, on Tuesday, the Juilliard School is announcing a $20 million gift to endow its graduate-level program in historical performance. The sheer size of the gift is enough to make heads snap in the early-music world, whose practitioners typically struggle to stay a step ahead of poverty. The donor is Bruce Kovner, the chairman of the school’s board, who recently retired as chairman of the $10 billion hedge fund Caxton Associates. Mr. Kovner, 66, has already financed the curriculum in period performance, which began in 2009, through its development and several academic years costing, he said in a telephone interview, $500,000 to $1 million each. The program, which is directed by the English violinist Monica Huggett and has attracted guest luminaries like the conductor-instrumentalists William Christie and Jordi Savall, has had a significant impact on the New York scene by presenting its own public concerts and furnishing performers for groups like Trinity’s. Mr. Kovner, who also donated a priceless collection of manuscripts to Juilliard in 2006, has long been enamored of “the great literature of the Baroque,” he said, and he thought it an appropriate area for Juilliard to take on. He is not alone in thinking that — thanks in large part to the Juilliard program — early music now “has a center of gravity” and “serious levels of accomplishment” in New York.

Science-and-cinema series growing at Coolidge Corner.” By Beth Teitell.
Boston Globe. January 17, 2012. With the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the theater will announce a two-year, $463,426 grant to continue expanding its science series, which pairs talks by scientific experts with films.

David Rubenstein Gives $7.5 Million To Repair Washington Monument.” By Brett Zongker. Huffington Post. January 18, 2012. A billionaire history buff has stepped forward to donate the $7.5 million matching gift that’s needed to start repairing cracks near the top of the Washington Monument from last summer’s East Coast earthquake. Businessman David Rubenstein told The Associated Press he was inspired to help fund the repairs to the 555-foot obelisk when it became clear how severely damaged it was by a 5.8-magnitude quake on Aug. 23. The monument received about 1 million visitors a year before the famous landmark was closed to the public after the quake. The Park Service hopes to have a contractor begin work by the end of August. The repair work is expected to take a year to complete, likely keeping the monument closed for two years. Congress allocated $7.5 million in December on the condition that private donations would match that amount. The National Park Service and nonprofit Trust for the National Mall are expected to announce Rubenstein’s gift Thursday morning. It will be the largest gift to the nonprofit group, which aims to raise $350 million to restore the mall’s grounds and facilities. The combined $15 million in public and private funds is expected to cover the cost of repairing damage directly caused by the quake, said National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson. Repairing water damage will cost more, as would a seismic study or reinforcements to strengthen the obelisk against future earthquakes, she said. Rubenstein, a co-founder of The Carlyle Group, began building the private equity firm’s business in Washington and said he wanted to restore a symbol of the nation and hasten repairs to reopen the landmark.
Related story:
Carlyle co-founder gives $7.5 million to fix Washington Monument.” Chicago Tribune. January 19, 2012.

Historical association abandons Mountain View museum plan.” By Jason Green. San Jose Mercury-News News. January 20, 2012. A controversial plan to build a history museum in Mountain View’s Cuesta Park Annex is precisely that — history. The Mountain View Historical Association notified City Manager Dan Rich in a letter this week that it is pulling out of a memorandum of understanding with the city to construct a museum at a site many community members say should remain unspoiled open space. The city council’s decision in October to kill a proposal to relocate the 1880s-era Pearson House and make it part of the museum left the historical association unable to meet the first of several fundraising goals outlined in the agreement, according to president Patricia Figueroa. “It was anticipated by the Association that the history house would be integral to the primary museum building, as part of its footprint envelope. Thus, the value of the operational history house was expected to represent a component of the overall cost of the History Museum,” Figueroa wrote in the letter. The association was also counting on a “significant match-donation” toward the museum from Los Altos developer Roger Burnell. While council members showed some initial interest last spring in preserving the Pearson House at the annex, the majority ultimately didn’t support treating its acquisition as part of the museum fundraising, Vice Mayor John Inks told The Daily News in an email Thursday. Council Member Laura Macias added that widespread community support for a museum at the annex never materialized and it appeared doubtful the historical association would raise the necessary funds.

Japanese American National museum hires CEO; G.W. Kimura, a fourth-generation Alaskan of Japanese and European heritage, will head the Little Tokyo institution as it struggles with fundraising and other challenges.” By Teresa Watanabe. Los Angeles Times. January 21, 2012. Reflecting its diversifying community, the Japanese American National Museum announced Friday that it had hired a fourth-generation Alaskan of Japanese and European heritage as chief executive of one of Little Tokyo’s most important institutions. G.W. “Greg” Kimura, who headed the Alaska Humanities Forum, will take over the museum as it struggles with an aging donor base, fundraising difficulties and the challenge of appealing to younger and more assimilated Japanese Americans. Gordon Yamate, chairman of the museum board, said Kimura’s fundraising skills would be particularly needed, even as his institution has financially stabilized after retiring about $2 million in short-term debt in the past few years. Kimura, 43, more than doubled revenue at the Alaska humanities council during his five-year tenure, Yamate said. Previously, Kimura taught religion and humanities at Alaska Pacific University, and is an ordained Episcopal minister. The museum’s announcement comes one week after a leadership change at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. Meanwhile, the longtime executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center also has announced his retirement. Leadership changes at Little Tokyo’s three most iconic institutions are aiming to serve an evolving Japanese American community as it diversifies with more intermarriage and greater geographical presence away from the old ethnic neighborhoods of the past.

Leave a Reply