Arts pledges: $1.8 million

Gifts mount fueling funding drive for the new Gilroy Arts
Gilroy – A dozen local benefactors have pushed a $3-million endowment campaign for the future Gilroy Center for the Arts beyond the halfway point, according to an announcement released by fundraisers.

The announcement comes just a week after fundraisers disclosed gifts of $1.25 million and $250,000, from burgeoning garlic producer Don Christopher and the Garlic Festival Association, respectively.

The latest announcements include a $125,000 gift by four sisters – Camille, Carla, Celia, and Christine McCormack.

“We lived and breathed music and arts,” said Camille McCormack, describing how her parents Lael and Dr. J.G. McCormack instilled in them a passion for “the classics” in particular. As children, the McCormacks took their daughters to countless symphonies and exhibits.

Camille McCormack, 58, has attended the Nutcracker 44 consecutive years at the San Francisco Opera House. As a girl, she passed up Beatles tickets to attend a symphony with her family.

Lael and her husband, now 87, spent nearly 50 years encouraging arts in the area. Mrs. McCormack’s extensive involvement in the community before her death in November 2003, included serving on the Arts and Culture Commission and the Public Art Committee.

A mural in downtown Gilroy honors Lael McCormack for her many contributions. Now her name will adorn a plaque next to one of the classrooms in the future Gilroy Center for the Arts, expected to open its doors off Seventh and Monterey streets by 2008.

“A classroom is appropriate because you pass on culture and learning,” said Camille McCormack. “It’s a vehicle through which all that goes. It’s how you learn, where it’s taught, shared, passed on through the generations.”

In addition to the three donations in excess of $100,000, the arts center also received nine gifts ranging between $5,000 and $35,000.

The gifts included donations of $10,000 each by two of the people responsible for organizing the fundraising campaign – Donna Pray, the executive director of the Gilroy Foundation, and Sherri Stuart.

Pray’s donation means the family name will appear on a plaque on an outdoor fountain at the center.

She and her husband Ron chose the fountain because the whole family shares a passion for the arts, as well as the outdoors.

Like most donors, Pray prefers the spotlight to remain on the center itself and the people it will benefit. She acknowledged, however, that donations by people directly involved in the project could help drum up money elsewhere.

“I think us being donors ourselves, it does give it more credibility that we believe in it so much,” she said.

The combined gifts bring the endowment to $1,735,000, or 58 percent of the campaign goal.

The fund, which will be held at the Gilroy Foundation, will allow the center to offer students and nonprofit groups discounted rates while meeting annual operating expenses. The facility’s current business plan projects $132,000 shortfall in the center’s annual operating budget of $503,000. The plan predicts the endowment would cover the difference by earning five percent interest on the $3 million, or $150,000, each year. The remainder of the annual operating costs will come from rental fees for special events, concession sales, advertising, and user fees. The largest portion – about $117,500 – will come from rentals of space to private and nonprofit groups.

Fundraisers have surpassed the half-way mark in the campaign, but Pray says the real work is just beginning.

“It’s going to be difficult finishing it up,” said Pray, a veteran of the nonprofit world. She expects the campaign to last 18 to 24 months. Beyond that, the center will continue raising funds on an ongoing basis by offering additional opportunities to name seats, tiles in the promenade, and other building elements.

“I’m hoping this momentum keeps up with the community,” Pray said.

Gilroy Center for the Arts Endowment Fund pledges

Donor Amount Building Element Name Requested

• Don Christopher $1,250,000 Main Theater Don Christopher

• Garlic Festival $250,000 Courtyard Gilroy Garlic Festival Association

• Camille, Christine,

Carla & Celia McCormack $125,000 Classroom A Lael McCormack

• Larry and Sally Connell $35,000 Members’ Lounge Connell Family

• Theater Angels Art League $25,000 Concession Bar Theater Angels Art League

• Tee Off For Youth Committee $15,000 Star Dressing Room Don Gage and Mike Gilroy

• Rosalind and Gordy Farotte $10,000 Women’s Dressing Room Rosalind and Gordon Farotte, Jr.

• Sherri Stuart $10,000 Green Room Vivian and Robert Stuart

• Ron and Donna Pray $10,000 Fountain Pray Family

• Wood Family $5,000 Piano Storage Room Fred and Virginia Wood

• Arline Silva $5,000 Costume Room Arline Silva

• Ralph and Karen Titus $5,000 Prop Room Titus Family

Donations and pledges total $1,735,000, representing 58 percent of the $3 million goal.

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