Column: Arts Center may miss $8.6 million fundraising goal

By Maria Saporta
Friday, March 26, 2010

The Woodruff Arts Center is experiencing another tough year raising money to make its campaign goal of $8.6 million.

Last year, the goal was $9 million, and the Woodruff Arts Center campaign fell $400,000 short.

As far as the Woodruff’s Beauchamp Carr knows, that was the first time the campaign had not met its goal, at least in the 30-plus years that he’s been involved with the center.

“We are running about 2 percent behind where we were last year at this time,” said Carr, the center’s executive vice president who runs the campaign. “We are entering the last 10 weeks of the campaign, and we hope those corporations who have not yet given will consider the cultural, educational and economic impact that the Woodruff has on Atlanta and the region.”

Bill Linginfelter, this year’s chairman of the Woodruff Arts Center campaign who is area president for Georgia and South Carolina for Regions Bank, said his cabinet has a game plan to make the $8.6 million goal.

“It’s not easy this year, and it was not easy last year,” Linginfelter said of the campaign that was led by Michael Garrett, president of Georgia Power Co. “There are some companies that have said to come back next year, and there have been companies that have had to reduce their gifts. We just have to go find some new friends and get some of our friends to increase their gifts. There’s a good chance we will meet goal, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of focus.”

Linginfelter said his cabinet is leaving no stone unturned.

“We are getting new money,” said Ingrid Saunders Jones, a Coca-Cola executive who is assistant campaign chair.

The Woodruff Arts Center has a “Challenge Fund” to provide a two-to-one match for all new and increased pledges to the campaign. The challenge fund has its own goal of $1.2 million, and it already has raised $1.1 million toward that goal.

The donors to the challenge fund are: the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta: $250,000; the Georgia Power Foundation: $250,000; the Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation: $200,000; United Parcel Service Inc.: $150,000; the Marcus Foundation: $100,000; Regions Financial Corp.: $50,000; Deloitte LLP: $50,000; and SunTrust Banks Inc.: $50,000.

Search consultant Veronica Biggins, who is a vice chair of the challenge fund campaign, said the message she’s sharing is that the arts are integral to education and that the arts are good for business.

The family foundation of Chris Klaus, founder of Internet Security Systems Inc. and Kaneva, has made “a wonderful new gift” of $100,000, Carr said.

The Woodruff Arts Center is a complex that includes four divisions: the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. The arts center dates back to 1968.

“The challenge this year in the current environment is trying to preserve what two generations of Atlantans have built,” said Joe Bankoff, president of the Woodruff Arts Center. “What we are trying to do is not fall further behind. We can’t afford to fall short in our campaign.”

The campaign ends at the end of May.

Bernie’s gift

Atlanta philanthropist Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot Inc., was able to witness firsthand what his $20 million gift has meant to Grady Hospital.

The Marcus Stroke Center of Excellence held its ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 23. It was established to strategically serve people who live in the “stroke belt” of the South, including Georgia.

During the ceremony, Marcus recalled his first visit to Grady, when he witnessed that “the facility was not up to par.”

When the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation decided to donate $200 million to help in the transformation of Grady Hospital, Marcus was motivated to get involved.

His gift has gone not only to helping establish the Stroke Center, but to upgrade the hospital’s trauma unit.

“This is an investment that we made that I think will give us tremendous dividends,” Marcus said.

After the ribbon-cutting, Marcus said in an impromptu interview that his $20 million gift to Grady may not be the last his foundation will make to the hospital.

“We are very excited by what we are seeing here,” said Marcus, who has a history of developing long-term relationships with recipients of his philanthropy. “My foundation is interested in taking care of people; and if we see a need, we will jump in.”

Job training

When unemployment tops 10 percent, it becomes even harder for people with disabilities to find jobs. So the work of the Bobby Dodd Institute becomes even more important in the community.

The Bobby Dodd Institute, founded 20 years ago in honor of former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd, provides job training, job placement and case man- agement for people with disabilities, connecting them with more than 600 clients in metro Atlanta.

BDI also operates several of its own businesses that employ those with disabilities. And every year it showcases one employer that has excelled in the hiring of those with special needs.

At this year’s ninth annual Breakfast With Champions event on March 19, Publix Super Markets Inc. was recognized as the Employer of the Year for being committed to hiring people with various disabilities.

“We represent a company and a culture that’s very committed to giving back to the community and the people that we serve,” said Chuck Roskovich, Publix’s vice president of the Atlanta Division, upon receiving the award. “We don’t do this for an award, we do this because it’s the right thing to do. Truth be told, the real champions are the staff.”

The inaugural Employee of the Year Award was given to Lamar Blessett, who is a toner technician at the Veterans Administration’s Medical Center.

“Thank you for the people at Bobby Dodd for giving me an opportunity 15 years ago,” said Blessett, who calls his crutches his legs, when he received his award.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

1 reply
  1. Yr1215 says:

    And ze new symphony hall ist kaput?

    Wonder when they’ll come up with something new on the symphony hall. Too much money. No good sites.Report

    Reply

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