Disney Concert Hall gets much-needed $5 mil gift

The Times Mirror Foundation board of directors has approved a donation of $5 million over five years to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the planned new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The donation would be the first gift in more than a year to the Disney Hall campaign, which faces a $150 million funding gap of the $264.9 million needed to build the Frank O. Gehry-designed structure.

The pledge was approved Tuesday by the foundation’s board and remains subject to the drafting of a final agreement. If approved, it would be the largest philanthropic gift ever made by the foundation.

Donations dry spell

The Disney Hall project was initiated in 1987 by a $50 million gift from Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian. Since then, a $2 million gift from the Ralph M. Parsons foundation in early 1995 has been the only donation from a person or organization outside the Disney family.

Spiraling cost estimates have forced the project into numerous delays.

The campaign must round up at least $50 million in pledges by July 1, or risk the project being canceled by Los Angeles County, which financed and has built a $100 million underground parking garage on the downtown site at First Street and Grand Avenue.

Important future fixture

“We believe that Disney Hall is important to the future vitality of downtown Los Angeles,” said Richard T. Schlosberg III, vice chairman of the foundation and publisher and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Times.

“We are delighted with this first corporate gift to the Disney Hall campaign,” said Nicholas Goldsborough, executive VP and chief operating officer of the Music Center.

In recognition of the donation, Disney Hall’s planned main entrance, to be made up of a curved series of steps leading to an open courtyard, would be named in honor of the Los Angeles Times.

The county has approved the idea that the adjacent Music Center complex, comprising the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theatre, might be named in honor of a major donor of $100 million or more.

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