Anonymous Donor Gives $90 Million to New World Symphony

Classic Arts News   Anonymous Donor Gives $90 Million to New World Symphony
An anonymous donor has given $90 million towards the cost of the New World Symphony's future home, a landmark building designed by Frank Gehry in Miami Beach.

The New York Times and The Miami Herald report that the gift is one of the largest ever made to a classical music institution.

Orchestra officials reportedly were planning to make the financial commitment, which was made two years ago, public in the fall, when ground will be broken on the project. But board member Neisen O. Kasdin mentioned the donation while presenting the building's plans to the Miami Beach Design Board review on Tuesday (March 7), thus putting the gift into the public record.

The New World Symphony, founded in 1987 by Michael Tilson Thomas to train top young musicians for orchestral careers, is currently based at Miami's Lincoln Theater, a converted cinema.

The orchestra is in the unusual position of being financially secure, ever since Carnival Cruise Lines founders Ted and Lin Arison donated $40 million in 1996 — at the time the largest private donation ever to a U.S. orchestra. The couple have since given more money; Ted died in 1999 but Lin reportedly remains a major contributor.

Last year, Carnival paid $20 million for naming rights to what was then called Miami Performing Arts Center; the complex, which opened last October, is now called the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.

According to the Times, the orchestra plans to raise about $200 million for the project, including $50 million for the endowment. Howard Frank, the board member overseeing the fund-raising drive, told the paper that the $90 million promise had been crucial to convince other donors and board members to get out their checkbooks. The orchestra still has to raise an additional $35 million; local government is expected to donate about $45 million. Money will also be raised from the sale of the Lincoln Theater.

The Herald quotes Howard Herring, the orchestra's president and chief executive, as writing in an email, "a total of $124.7 million has been secured. We are confident that we will meet and exceed this $200 million goal."

The paper also quotes Michael Spring, Miami-Dade County's director of cultural affairs, as saying the gift is "a coming-of-age moment for our cultural community," catapulting the county into "the big leagues. It's wondrous."

According to the Herald, the new campus passed a key milestone at the March 7 meeting, as the Design Review Board unanimously approved its centerpiece: a 107,000-square-foot, $150 million concert and rehearsal building that evokes a performance stage's proscenium arch. The building's exterior will be white plaster, fitting in well with the area's Art Deco architecture.

The new building will include a 700-seat concert hall, practice rooms, offices and state-of-the-art media and technical equipment.

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