Local Philanthropist Gives $20 Million to Support Dance in Los Angeles

The Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County has announced a $20 million gift from local philanthropist Glorya Kaufman through the Glorya Kaufman Dance Foundation in support of its Dance at the Music Center program, the Los Angeles Times reports. Music Center president Stephen D. Rountree said he believes the gift is the largest ever in support of dance in America.

The gift will establish an endowment to provide support for dance programming, engage new audiences, and present internationally renown dance companies. Kaufman, the widow of Donald Bruce Kaufman, who, with Eli Broad, founded what became home construction and financing firm KB Homes, said she chose to support the program rather than a single dance company partly because of the economic fragility of many dance institutions but also to do something for the city of Los Angeles. "It's the perfect time," she said, "because everyone is starting to get into the doldrums."

Newly renamed Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center, the program was launched during the 2003-04 season, becoming the first self-produced dance series at the center in thirty-nine years. Of late, it has presented seasons with performances by five or six companies, including the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, the Jos´┐Ż Limon Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, and Kirov Ballet. In November, the center announced that it would have to cancel the scheduled June 26-28 performances of the Nederlands Dance Theater I because of insufficient funding.

Prior to Kaufman's gift, the program had a modest endowment of $400,000. While the gift should generate approximately $1 million a year in income and give the center greater programming flexibility, it will not enable the program to develop a resident dance company. It will, however, allow the program to plan over a longer horizon.

"For example, Russian companies that want to tour are planning two and three years out, and we haven't had the ability to commit to them because we didn't know about the funding," Rountree said. "Now we have the funding to bring companies to Los Angeles that might have [gone instead] to New York."

Diane Haithman. "$20 Million Donation to Dance at the Music Center." Los Angeles Times 03/17/2009. "Music Center of Los Angeles County Announces $20 Million Gift From Glorya Kaufman Dance Foundation." Music Center of Los Angeles County Press Release 03/17/2009.