The John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., is the nation’s busiest single performing arts venue, hosting some 2,000 performances annually. For years it has been cramped by its lack of rehearsal space and classrooms. “We run the largest arts-education program in the country,” says president Michael Kaiser. “We work with 11 million children a year . . . but the building doesn’t have a classroom in it.” To address this, the Kennedy Center announced in 2013 an expansion that will add classrooms, rehearsal rooms, lecture space, some offices, gardens, and a stage floating on the Potomac River. The $100 million project will be entirely privately funded, centered on a $50 million gift (the largest in the Kennedy Center’s history) from Washington-based financier David Rubenstein.
Rubenstein had previously donated $75 million to the Kennedy Center. He expressed hope that his latest donation will draw other donors to engage in what he calls “patriotic philanthropy.” (See 2009 entry.) “The federal government today cannot afford to do many of the things it would have done before. I hope this will encourage other people to give to…organizations that have been helpful to our country.”