Kaiser extends his contract

Philanthropists Betsy and Dick DeVos will donate $22.5 million to the Kennedy Center to support the org’s arts management institute, the Kennedy Center said Monday.

The KenCen also reported that the its popular president, Michael Kaiser, will remain in his post through 2014 but will then lead the institute full-time for the next three years.

The gift includes $2.5 million to help support the institute’s operation during the next five years, with the remainder earmarked to establish an endowment. Created by Kaiser to help train current and future arts leaders in the U.S. and throughout the world, the entity has been renamed the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center.

“We hope and anticipate that this gift will ensure the institute’s permanence,” said Betsy DeVos, who chairs the center’s board of trustees’ development committee.

Donation was unveiled at the center’s May meeting of its board of trustees, during which D.C. businessman David M. Rubenstein succeeded Stephen Schwartzman as chairman. But the spotlight was seized by the twin announcements of the DeVos gift and Kaiser’s decision to extend his contract, which expires next year.

Kaiser has long lamented that billions are spent in the U.S. to train performers but comparatively little is spent to train the people who employ them. Under his guidance, the school operates nine separate programs that range from intense training of aspiring arts managers, by senior execs of the center, to an Arts in Crisis program that helps arts orgs worldwide cope with the economic downturn. Kaiser is personally visiting all 50 states to help arts groups in crisis.

The Kennedy Center considers the centerpiece of the institute to be its Capacity Building Program, which offers technical assistance to arts managers and boards. One such initiative for arts orgs in Grand Rapids, Mich. will soon join current programs to strengthen arts orgs in New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

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