Building on strategic efforts to strengthen the arts at Brown, the Perelman Family Foundation has pledged $25 million to create the “Ronald O. Perelman Arts District at Brown University.”
Perelman, who is chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Inc., is a former Brown University trustee, the father of two Brown graduates and one of the country’s leading philanthropists, particularly in the arts.
The Perelman Arts District, as it will be known, will represent “where the arts happen” at Brown, encompassing prominent performance spaces on its College Hill campus, as well as spaces dedicated to research, teaching and training in the arts. The district will include the Lindemann Performing Arts Center, which is scheduled for a formal opening in Fall 2023. Final construction for that project, created as a hub for music, dance, theater and multimedia arts scholarship at Brown, is underway directly across from Brown’s Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts and near other arts-centered academic facilities.
President Christina H. Paxson said the district will highlight the visibility of the arts at Brown.
“At Brown, the arts are integrated into everything we do,” Paxson said. “We have spaces across the University where artists and non-artists engage with art forms to stimulate discovery and fuel innovative thinking. With this generous gift from Ronald Perelman’s family foundation, Brown will signal the connection between the creative and collaborative work taking place in these various art forms across campus.”
Markers identifying spaces within the arts district will highlight the places where artists are learning from and informing scholars and students in disciplines across the social sciences, sciences, and humanities, Paxson said. They also will demonstrate Brown’s collective investment in the arts.
“The arts district tells you that you are in the place where arts happen, though without passing through a distinct gateway or threshold,” Paxson said.
“The open-ended concept behind the arts district affirms the arts exist everywhere at Brown, and in fact, migrate wherever Brown’s artists go. The arts bring life to new ideas, foster a deep sense of collaboration and friendship, and form part of our nation’s soul.”
The creation of the district aligns with Brown’s ambitions to become the primary destination in the world for students who want to fully integrate the arts into a complete liberal arts education. In March 2017, the University formally launched the Brown Arts Initiative to integrate the practice and study of the arts across the University. Building on decades of investment in the arts, this was followed in 2021 by the founding of the Brown Arts Institute. The institute is a University-wide arts research enterprise and catalyst for the arts that adds new dimensions to the creative practices of Brown’s arts departments, faculty, students and community.
“The open-ended concept behind the arts district affirms the arts exist everywhere at Brown, and in fact, migrate wherever Brown’s artists go,” Perelman said. “The arts bring life to new ideas, foster a deep sense of collaboration and friendship, and form part of our nation’s soul. Brown uniquely understands the arts transcend individual spaces, and that they thrive when deeply woven throughout a wide community. I am so pleased to be able to support this extraordinary project that will be a beacon for arts and creativity for generations to come.”
The arts are an ongoing fundraising priority for the University’s Brown Together comprehensive campaign. The Perelman Family Foundation gift contributes to the campaign.
The district also will encompass teaching, gallery, rehearsal and performance spaces extending across College Hill, including the List Art Building, Literary Arts building, and other performance, studio, recital and instruction spaces, totaling 15 arts spaces across College Hill. Other arts spaces that Brown develops in the future would become part of the district.
Pylons serving as site markers will include a map of all Perelman Arts District arts and performance spaces on campus.
“We are entering an exciting new era for the arts at Brown, and the Perelman Arts District is a wonderful complement to efforts to elevate the University as a national leader in arts practice and scholarship,” said Avery Willis Hoffman, inaugural artistic director of the Brown Arts Institute. “The arts district represents the expansive physical landscape of the BAI’s mission to energize and magnify the work of programs and departments in the arts across campus.”
Pylons serving as district markers and site markers on building signs within the district will be installed by the start of the Fall 2023 semester, in advance of the opening of the fall arts performance season at Brown.
The gift to Brown extends Perelman’s rich legacy of giving to the arts. Perelman contributed the lead gift to build the Ronald O. Perelman Center for the Performing Arts, which is nearing completion at the World Trade Center site in New York City.
Among his other contributions to the arts, the performance space at Carnegie Hall — The Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage — bears his name, reflecting a gift to support education and artistic programs.
Perelman is the former chair of Carnegie Hall’s executive board and also the former chair and former president of the Board of Trustees of the Guggenheim Museum. He made the lead gift in 1994 to launch a major fundraising campaign at the Guggenheim, and the Ronald O. Perelman Rotunda reflects his philanthropic support of the museum.
Perelman has served as a trustee for the Museum of Modern Art, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Apollo Theater and Ford’s Theatre.
Beyond the arts, Perelman has an expansive history of philanthropy marked by generous gifts to institutions of higher education and academic medical centers.
Among some of his gifts are the Ronald O. Perelman Center Family Scholarship Fund for the exclusive purpose of providing full tuition scholarships to students at Columbia Business School from underrepresented racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic communities, the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
A donation from Perelman also supported new research and clinical care initiatives at the renamed Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
After Hurricane Sandy, Perelman funded the new Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Services and the Emergency Medicine Department at the NYU Langone Medical Center.
Perelman served on the Brown Corporation from 2013 to 2019. Among his children, he has a son who graduated from Brown in 1990 and a daughter who graduated in 2017. Perelman earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1964 and an MBA in 1966 from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.