GREENSBORO, N.C. – (June 5, 2013) – The Cemala Foundation and The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation of Greater Greensboro today announced $3 million in commitments to a proposed new performing arts center in downtown Greensboro.
Cemala committed $2 million toward the project, and Bryan provided another $1 million donation.
“We are enormously appreciative of the generosity of these two foundations, as well as their belief and confidence in this project,” said Kathy Manning, who is chairing the efforts of The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro to raise the $20 million in private donations needed to make the facility a reality. “The Cemala and Bryan foundations have once again demonstrated tremendous leadership and philanthropy in helping take Greensboro to even greater heights.”
The Cemala and Bryan donations are the most recent private gifts announced for the performing arts center. Over the past three weeks, commitments of $3.5 million by the The Phillips Foundation and $1 million by Lorillard, Inc. have been made public.
“A performing arts center downtown will be a catalyst for Greensboro’s economic growth and vitality,” said Susan Shore Schwartz, executive director of The Cemala Foundation. “This is a critical undertaking for our community’s future – so much so that we felt compelled to commit at this level.”
Jim Melvin, president of the Bryan Foundation, said the performing arts center is something his foundation wanted to support, as well.
“This is an important community project for Greensboro, and the Bryan Foundation wants to significantly stand behind it,” Melvin said. “We also are pleased to see that other organizations and individuals feel as strongly about it, too. We’ve always believed in our center city and the importance of supporting it – the baseball stadium, Center City Park and Elon Law School. And, now, the performing arts center.”
In early 2012, the city council asked The Community Foundation to convene and lead a broad-based community task force to study the feasibility of a downtown performing arts center. Last June, the task force reported that a new downtown performing arts center would create a one-time economic impact of $30 million and support 1,200 jobs from its construction; create an annual economic impact of $7 million and support 268 jobs; and receive potentially $20 million from private investors and attract close to 300,000 people to more than 250 performances. Based on these results, the city asked the group to continue its work and provide more detailed findings on matters such as site recommendations, operations and financing and building design.
Following six additional months of working with national experts on design, acoustics and performance center trends, the task force completed its research and submitted its final recommendations to the city. The task force determined that the facility should be downtown, located in the area of the former YWCA and the corner of North Elm and Bellemeade streets and be part of a comprehensive master redevelopment plan. In addition, the task force determined it would take a budget of $60 million to build a facility that would have the flexibility in programming to accommodate everything from the symphony to Broadway to large spectaculars.
Louise Brady and the Hon. Henry Frye, both former Community Foundation board chairs, co-chaired the task force.
Shortly after receiving the task force’s recommendation, the city council voted to commit $20 million in public funds to the project.