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Anchorage Symphony receives Chair Endowment Donation

Anchorage, AK – The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce it has received funding for its first fully endowed chair through a generous contribution from Richard and Diane Block.  Providing a permanent source of income, the Block donation endows the Assistant Principal Bass chair currently held by Matthew O’Connor.

Endowing ASO chairs was first discussed more than thirty years ago while Mr. Block served as an ASO Board Member.  At that time the organization decided to initiate its Sponsor a Chair program where sponsorships of $500-$2,000 help to bring in revenue that helps the orchestra cover annual operating costs.  Contributions for Endowed Chairs are placed in a specific fund with the Anchorage Symphony’s Endowment Foundation.  The original gift is invested in perpetuity while the earnings from the donation pay the annual musician service fees for the musician holding the endowed chair.

Shortly after the Anchorage Symphony launched an Endowment Campaign in 2009, the Blocks brought the concept of Endowed Chairs to the organization’s attention.  “A lot of thought went into this gift,” said Block whose hope is that through the establishment of a formalized giving structure, others may be inspired to make similar contributions.  “My hope is that through this segregated and protected fund, others will join us in adding stability, strength and permanence to the Symphony.”

Mr. Block credits the concept of creating an endowed chair program coming from his observations of university endowments.  It seemed an interesting idea to him to apply the principle to a symphony setting saying, “Somebody needs to pay for those folks to fill those chairs!”

ASO Board President Dr. Aron Wolf said of the Block’s donation, “On behalf of the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, I extend our thanks to Richard and Diane Block for both their generous gift to fund our first fully endowed chair and for their challenge to us to seek endowments for each and every chair in the orchestra.”

“This is a true legacy gift,” said ASO Executive Director Sherri Burkhart Reddick.  “Richard and Diane have been ASO subscribers for more than 30 years.  Richard served on the Board of Directors and both he and Diane have been generous donors to our annual fund for decades.  For many years Richard has talked with me about this idea of endowing musician’s chairs as a means of providing a perpetual source of revenue for the organization.  Recent tax incentives regarding charitable gifts from Individual Retirement Accounts prompted Richard and Diane to make this thoughtful gift to the Anchorage Symphony, one that will benefit the orchestra for years to come.”

The ASO received its first gifts to the Endowment in 1997 and established a separate non-profit foundation and Board of Trustees to manage the fund the following year.  Over time, through a first phase of an endowment campaign, and with the initial contribution to the Endowed Chair Fund, the Endowment has grown to over $800,000 with pledged gifts bringing the fund to approximately one million dollars. 

For information about donations to the Anchorage Symphony Endowed Chairs Fund, please contact the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra at 274-8668.

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