It’s A Good Day To Be A St. Louis Arts Org

Adaptistration People 038Rental car magnate, Jack C. Taylor, is embracing old school philanthropy and plans to donate $92.5 million “to an array of cultural, educational and historical institutions, predominantly in St. Louis” (h/t slippedisc). According to the press statement released by Taylor’s company, Enterprise Holdings, the third largest gift of $10 million is earmarked for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra’s (SLSO) endowment fund.

According to the press statement, here’s the full list (emphasis added to performing arts orgs):

  1. $30 million to Forest Park Forever’s endowment fund
  2. $25 million to the City Arch River 2015 Foundation for improvements to the Old Courthouse and to support the Foundation’s endowment fund
  3. $10 million to the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra’s endowment fund
  4. $6 million to the Fisher House Foundation for construction of new homes in Charleston, S.C., and Portland, Ore., that provide accommodations for military families during medical treatment
  5. $5 million to the American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri to meet capital and program needs
  6. $5 million to the Saint Louis Art Museum Foundation’s endowment fund
  7. $5 million to St. Luke’s Hospital to support its endowment fund
  8. $2 million to the Missouri Botanical Garden to support its capital campaign
  9. $1 million to the Better Angels Society to underwrite filmmaker Ken Burns’ upcoming documentary on baseball legend Jackie Robinson
  10. $1 million to the Everglades Foundation to support its End Point Restoration Project to restore America’s Everglades and sustain South Florida’s water supply
  11. $1 million to Friends of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., to fund its World War II education programs
  12. $1 million to the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to provide operational support for the services of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
  13. $500,000 to the Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis (The Muny) to support its endowment fund and multiple capital needs

It’s interesting to note that the SLSO will be the indirect beneficiary of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ gift but in the end, it’s good to see those in the one-percenter tier of wealth recognize the value of cultural institutions. Ideally, Taylor’s decision will help inspire similar gifts among his socioeconomic peers.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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