Jazz at Lincoln Center announced on Monday that it has received a $20 million gift from Robert J. Appel, a private investor and philanthropist, to support the organization’s performance, education and broadcast events.
The gift is significant for Jazz at Lincoln Center, a still-young organization (founded in 1987) that has faced a steep climb to lure deep-pocketed donors given the lack of a strong philanthropic tradition in jazz. Appel joined Jazz at Lincoln Center’s board of directors in 2008 and became its chairman in 2012.
The donation is also one of the biggest gifts ever given to a jazz organization. In 2010, SFJazz, the San Francisco arts organization, also received a donation of $20 million, identified only as an individual from the Bay Area. But while that amount was earmarked for building a 35,000-square-foot theater facility in San Francisco, Appel's gift will go towards general operations.
Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center's managing and Artistic director said in a statement, “Bob Appel’s gift to the organization is transformative. His expressed commitment to jazz and Jazz at Lincoln Center establishes a new standard of philanthropy for this great American art.
"The magnitude of this affirmation from our chairman invigorates our entire institution, and encourages us to an even deeper and more profound engagement with our Mission."