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October 9, 2011 Sunday

Who will give when they go?
LENGTH: 1257 words
One in a series on the financial state of local arts organizations.

The summer of 2011 was anything but kind to philanthropy in Dallas.

Charles Wyly, Nancy Hamon, former Gov. Bill Clements and Louis Beecherl Jr., whose names read like a Who's Who of giving, all died in recent months.

Four years earlier, the city lost Bill Winspear, whose $42 million - the largest pledge in the nine-year campaign to build the $354 million AT&T Performing Arts Center - spawned its centerpiece, the Winspear Opera House. Raymond Nasher died in 2007, Elaine Dewey Sammons in 2009.

Dallas' so-called greatest generation of philanthropic giants is aging or gone, raising the question: Who's going to replace them?

"It has to be the most remarkable generation in Dallas history," says Bill Lively, past president and CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. But when you fail "to shepherd the next generation through your project or program, you've got to catch up. That right there is the scary part," he says.

Dallas has long relied on a family-based pool of old money to fund performing arts institutions. Cities of similar size, such as San Diego, have struggled for years to mimic Dallas' generosity, with nowhere near the same results.

The passing of this generation comes in perilous circumstances. Local governments are strapped of cash, corporations are beholden to shareholders, and younger philanthropists want to know every detail of where their money is going.

"The assumption that tempts the nonprofit world is one that corporations try to maintain but are unable to, and that is that they are entitled to perpetual existence in a perpetual market," says Dr. Paul G. Schervish, director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College. "Just as Chrysler or General Motors or Apple or Hewlett-Packard have to continue to make a case for the next generation to be engaged with them, so too do particular nonprofits."

Schervish contends that the younger generation of philanthropists is "interested in new directions, much more in research, much more in being entrepreneurs of philanthropy rather than contributors to established causes. Having said that, I do not think these institutions will be sheep without a shepherd."

Lively, who has taken his fundraising prowess to the University of North Texas, says nonprofits must do a better job of cultivating the newer generation.

"A lot of organizations that rely on unearned income, gift income, have not necessarily done a real good job of developing relationships with the new generation," he says. "They've depended way too long on the one that's maturing."

Caren Prothro, chairwoman of the board of trustees at Southern Methodist University and a driving force behind the AT&T center, says the older generation of Dallas givers won't be easy to replace.

Prothro's husband, C. Vincent "Vin" Prothro, who died in 2000, presided over a capital campaign at the Dallas Museum of Art that raised money for the Hamon Building and helped solidify the DMA's endowment. In its early stages, he also led the fundraising campaign to build the AT&T center.

"I worry about the kind of future we have with philanthropy," Caren Prothro says, "and who's going to be there to carry forward all of the wonderful next steps the city will need to take just to keep up with the past."

Replacements exist among the younger generation, Lively says, citing such generous donors as Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones and Sarah and Ross Perot Jr., a couple who raise another issue: Will families who have given freely in the past continue to do so in the future?

In honor of Margot, 77, and Ross Perot, 81, Ross Perot Jr., 52, his four sisters and other family members contributed $50 million to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science, now under construction. Trevor Rees-Jones, 60, who sold Chief Oil & Gas to Devon Energy for $2.6 billion, has contributed, through the Rees-Jones Foundation, $25 million to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, 53, partnered with Todd Wagner, 51, to create 2929 Entertainment, a movie production and distribution company. The pair also own Magnolia Films and Landmark Theatres.

In terms of high-profile donations to local arts causes, Cuban says in an email: "Other than the Fallen Patriot Fund, I make all donations anonymously."

Catherine Rose, 41, who serves on the board of the Dallas Museum of Art, says that her mother-in-law, philanthropic heavyweight Deedie Rose, and the late Robert Hoffman and Charles Wyly served brilliantly as mentors for the next generation.

"There are a lot of young people, 25 to 55, who care passionately about the arts in Dallas," says Catherine Rose. The city's philanthropic profile might look different in the future, but, she says, "I don't think that's bad."

The younger generation of Dallas donors is "showing evidence of its interest and power," Lively says, albeit with a difference: Charitable giving in the 21st century will scarcely resemble what it looked like during the previous 100 years.

"We're seeing a change in the paradigm as it relates to philanthropy," he says. "Donors, and rightly so, are demanding to understand the way the money is going to be spent. In other words, how will you use this money?"

Younger donors want to know, he says, "what it costs per dollar to give a dollar. Will you report to me after the fact how my gift made a difference? Those kinds of demands and questions were not always present in the last century. They should be and frequently are in this century, and I think that's good."

It is, Prothro says, a different world, enmeshed in "a global community. Recent college graduates in their 20s and 30s may end up taking five or six different jobs in their productive years, which is different from the past. You have to be more nimble now. To reinvent yourself, you may have to live in Seattle, New York ... you may be forced to move more often and work for several companies."

In other words, a global economy, coupled with a far more mobile society, threatens donor ties to a single community.

"We want Dallas to be business-centered," Prothro says. "If it's not, we won't be able to support the arts ... Dallas isn't going to raise taxes, and our city government won't be able to pay for this."

Prothro's hope is "to nourish what we've already invested in with all of this wonderful infrastructure we've built. It doesn't come easily, nor does it fall from the sky."


Generous benefactors

They will be missed

Bill Winspear

Gave $42 million to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, igniting the $354 million campaign and creating the centerpiece of the complex, the Winspear Opera House.

Charles Wyly

Along with Sam, his brother, gave $20 million to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, where the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre was named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wyly.

Nancy Hamon

*Donated more than $34 million to the Dallas Museum of Art for exhibitions, educational programming and capital improvements. Her $20 million donation helped fund construction of the DMA's Nancy and Jake L. Hamon Building.

*Donated $10 million to build the recital hall for the Winspear Opera House and covered construction costs for the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

The new generation

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones

Gave $25 million through the Rees-Jones Foundation to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science.

Sarah and Ross Perot Jr.

In honor of Ross Jr.'s parents, they teamed with Ross Jr.'s four siblings and other family members to give $50 million to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science.
LOAD-DATE: October 9, 2011
GRAPHIC: PHOTO(S): 1. Charles Wyly. 2. Nancy Hamon. 3. (File/Staff Photo) Bill and Margot Winspear donated $42 million to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, where 4. (Xiaomei Chen/Staff Photographer) the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House (left) is seen over the crest of the zigzag ramp and plantings. Their gift was the largest pledge in the nine-year campaign to build the $354 million center. 5. ROSS PEROT SR. has inspired gifts to build the Perot Museum of Nature & Science. 6. (File 2009/Staff Photo) The Wyly Theatre is reflected in the shallow pool where donor names are etched outside the Winspear Opera House in the Dallas Arts District. Dallas has long enjoyed a healthy donor pool of old family money from which to draw. 7. (Allison V. Smith) Raymond Nasher's legacy of the Nasher Sculpture Center includes 8. (File 2007/Staff Photo) Mark di Suvero's sculpture Eviva Amore, silhouetted against the downtown skyline. The Dallas arts patron died in 2007. CHART(S): AT A GLANCE Generous benefactors.


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