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Overture Center names its big 'Intermission Campaign' donor, and he's well known

Overture Center names its big 'Intermission Campaign' donor, and he's well known

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Overture Center exterior

Overture Center closed its doors on March 13 due to the pandemic.

Jerry Frautschi, who donated $205 million to create the Overture Center, is the donor who through the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, pledged to match all December donations during the performing arts center’s “Intermission Campaign.”

Overture, which has been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic, raised almost 50% more than its “Intermission Campaign” goal, center officials said in January.

The money included individual, corporate and foundation gifts, state grants, and Frautschi’s $379,662 donation, which matched donations made during the last month of Overture’s campaign.

The campaign, announced Sept. 1, aimed to raise $1.5 million by Dec. 31. The center received 2,200 donations totaling $2.2 million.

Emily Gruenewald, Overture’s vice president of development, said Frautschi didn’t want his name made public in December.

In 2001, Frautschi’s wife, Pleasant Rowland, announced her $23 million endowment grant for Overture’s resident arts groups. Overture opened in 2004.

Rowland, who founded the American Girl doll company — sold to toy giant Mattel in 1998 for $700 million — has also made other donations to the Madison arts community, including a $20 million gift to the Madison Youth Arts Center under construction on the 1000 block of East Washington Avenue.

UW Health announced in February that Rowland is donating $10 million toward the construction of a new transplant clinic at UW Hospital. In 2012, Rowland received a kidney transplant at the esteemed transplant center.

Also in February, came news that Frautschi is donating $10 million to the Wisconsin Historical Society to support a new Wisconsin History Museum. The gift is in addition to $3.5 million Frautschi previously donated to the new museum’s fundraising campaign.

Last year, Frautschi gave a $1 million lead gift to the Madison Children’s Museum for its “Our Future in Play: a promise to survive, thrive, and play outside” campaign, which includes the creation of a 10,000-square-foot play space behind the museum in what was a parking lot. The museum is trying to raise $4 million by June 30.


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