Disney gives Hall $25 mil

Kickstarting what had become a moribund project, the Walt Disney Co. Monday pledged a $25 million “challenge gift” toward the completion of the $200 million Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

Disney chieftain Michael Eisner called the oft-delayed concert hall “an extremely worthwhile project,” but conditioned the gift on the raising of another $25 million for the project by the Disney Hall Oversight Committee.

Helping to achieve that goal was a separate $5 million gift from Disney vice chairman Roy E. Disney and wife Patty. Under the terms of this gift, a performance space (whose exact location within the unfinished complex has yet to be determined) will be set aside for the primary use of the California Institute of the Arts, another Disney creation. That performance space will be permanently named the Roy O. and Edna F. Disney CalArts Theater, named after Roy E. Disney’s parents (and company founder Walt’s brother and sister-in-law).

“My father and uncle were brothers and partners in celebrating the performing arts,” said Roy Disney. “My wife Patty and I are delighted that they will both be recognized in this magnificent concert hall.”

CalArts is also the indirect beneficiary of one-fifth of the Disney Co. corporate “matching gift,” in that $5 million will be used to create an endowment for the Valencia-based fine arts college. The earnings from that endowment will be used exclusively by CalArts to produce and perform programming for both the Disney Hall and the Disney CalArts Theater.

Disney Hall Oversight Committee chair Eli Broad added that, with the new Disney gifts figured in, the total raised for the future home of the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra — just over $160 million — amounts to 80% of the total project cost.

The 2,350-seat hall, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is now scheduled to open in 2001 — several years after its initially scheduled completion

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