Wisconsin Philanthropist Funds $205 Million Madison Arts Center

Wisconsin Philanthropist Funds $205 Million Madison Arts Center

The entire cost of building the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin, will be covered by a gift from local philanthropist W. Jerome "Jerry" Frautschi, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

The disclosure, just seven weeks before the completion of the $205 million center's first phase, was the first public acknowledgement of the scope of the project underwritten by Frautschi, who had previously given two $50 million gifts to the center. "I feel extremely fortunate to be in a position to give back to this wonderful community," said Frautschi, 72, a fourth-generation Madisonian who shuns publicity, in a written statement. "I also want to continue the tradition of civic pride and responsibility that my family has honored since 1867."

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Frautschi worked at his father's book printing and manufacturing company, Webcrafters Inc., for forty-two years. He sold the company in 1997. Lori Robishaw, a spokeswoman for Americans for the Arts, said no one tracks large individual gifts to performing arts centers, but said Frautschi's must surely be among the largest.

In addition to his gift, a $23 million endowment challenge gift from his wife, Pleasant Rowland, has been offered to nine arts organizations. Called the Great Performance Fund, the drive has raised $21 million in the past two years, and campaign director Jane Coleman is optimistic about meeting the goal. "It really stabilizes these organizations and makes them secure," said Coleman.

"Philanthropist Giving $205 Million for Arts." St. Paul Pioneer Press 07/30/2004.