- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) - Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein announced a $10 million gift to the performing arts complex Wednesday to support the National Symphony Orchestra’s new music director and the center’s programs.

The Carlyle Group co-founder said half of the five-year commitment would be devoted to the orchestra to celebrate Christoph Eschenbach’s arrival. The new music director is planning some larger scale projects, including touring and recording.

“It’s really a wonderful vote of confidence for the NSO and for Eschenbach,” said Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser, adding that Rubenstein’s gifts to the center have inspired others to do the same.

Rubenstein of Bethesda, Md., became chairman in May after serving on the board for six years. He said he wanted to honor Kaiser’s work leading the center.

This is a record fundraising year for the Kennedy Center. When its fiscal year closes in October, the center expects to have brought in more than $71 million in private funds. That would be a nearly 100 percent increase since Kaiser’s arrival in 2001 when the center brought in $37 million, officials at the center said.

Kaiser said donors are attracted to exciting programs.

“Even during the deepest, darkest days of the recession, we didn’t cut on programming,” he said. “I believe that is essential for a healthy organization, and it is what attracts major gifts.”

In May, the center announced the largest donation in its history, a $22.5 million gift from Dick and Betsy DeVos to endow a management training program for arts leaders.

The newest gift creates a $2.5 million programming fund named for Rubenstein that will underwrite a significant production each year. Another $1.5 million is devoted to the center’s effort to enhance K-12 arts education across the country.

Rubenstein also devoted $1 million to support major events, such as the Kennedy Center Honors and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. That award this year will go to TV comedienne Tina Fey.

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