The folks over at ARTS Center Stage say they're near the end of Phase 1 of their capital campaign to transform Palmer Auditorium into the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts, but don't think that the winding down of one phase translates into a winding down of momentum in the campaign. Quite the contrary. This week, the Long Center drive racked up an impressive gift, in fact, a gift that ranks alongside two of the biggest in the campaign to date. The contribution, in the amount of $5 million, comes from Tom and Lynn Meredith, and you may not be surprised to hear that they have connections to Dell Computer Corporation. Tom Meredith is the current managing director of Dell Ventures, which pumps out venture capital for the computer giant, and was previously the corporation's chief financial officer. That means that all three of the $5 million pledges to Long Center so far have come from Dell executives and their spouses -- the first of those was from Mort and Angela Topfer, the second from Kevin and Debra Rollins. So what is this: Do all the Dell top dogs belong to some culture club, through which they're obligated to cough up five mil to Austin's 21st-century performing arts center? No doubt ARTS Center Stage would love to think so, but the donors offer up their own reasons for making the big donation. Lynn Meredith, who also contributes time and energy to several community organizations, most notably Austin Children's Museum, says that for her and her husband "first and foremost in our minds was the educational benefits that Long Center will have for children and the impact it will have on their lives." Makes sense. Project followers will recall that the Topfers will have Long Center's 720-seat theatre named in their honor and the Rollinses will have the 250-seat recital theatre named in their honor. At press time, the Merediths and ARTS Center Stage had yet to settle on an appropriate naming opportunity for them the Merediths. By the way, this gift boosts the total pledges to the Long Center campaign to a cool $45 million, which means that if the cost of the project can hold at $89 million (a small miracle given the size of the project and the current construction climate), Arts Center Stage can start Phase 2 with the knowledge that they're halfway home.
Going to the community art museum just got a lot cheaper, at least for the run of one show. The Austin Museum of Art, which opens its exhibit "The New Frontier: Art and Television, 1960-65" in its downtown galleries September 1, has received a hefty grant from AT&T that will cover the full cost of admission for every man, woman, and child who comes to see the show. That means from this Friday all the way through November 26, a trip to AMOA -- Downtown is absolutely free. Underwriting of this kind would be sweet under any circumstances, but it's an especially nice payoff for the museum now as this exhibition is not the touring show it might sound like but a homegrown project which AMOA has been developing for the last three years. Art historian John Alan Farmer was brought to Austin from New York to assemble this work of social history and critique, taking a closer look at the major cultural shift engendered by The Tube and the way it was utilized and interpreted at a turning point in American history and modern art. It's a high-power show, with work by a host of name artists, including Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, Dennis Hopper, Edward Kienholz, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol. For info, call 495-9224.
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