The lead gift to the center's newly launched fundraising campaign will be used to establish a $25 million matching fund in support of core artistic and educational programming, including gifts for musician positions at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The gift also will support core educational and artistic programming at the High Museum of Art, the Alliance Theatre, and the Woodruff, as well as a major renovation of the Alliance's main performance and production support areas, the first such renovation in the theater's history.
The gift is a bit of good news for the Woodruff, which was harshly criticized after a nine-week lockout of ASO musicians — the second in two years — earlier this fall. The four-year contract that ended the lockout calls for the orchestra, which was reduced from eighty-eight to seventy-seven full-time positions for the time being, to return to its full complement of musicians by the final year of the contract. According to Woodruff Arts Center president and CEO Virginia Hepner, a donor has stepped forward with a pledge to endow one of the eliminated positions, while others have expressed a similar interest. Endowing a musician's chair at ASO costs at least $2 million.
"We are so grateful to the Woodruff Foundation Trustees for this incredibly important investment to strengthen the arts center," said Hepner. "The foundation’s generosity has been instrumental to our success for nearly fifty years, and this added support will help all of our arts partners continue to adapt and thrive for decades to come for the benefit of our community."