Author(s): JOANNA KAKISSIS STAFF WRITER Date: July 27, 1999 Section: News
Raleigh — The chairman of the Raleigh-based telecommunications company that gave the city $3.1 million in 1997 to help create a premier performing arts center has matched that money with a personal contribution. Peter Loftin, chairman and chief executive officer of BTI, on Monday announced a $3.1 million contribution to the BTI Center for the Performing Arts. The company bought the naming rights for the center in 1997, and construction is now in progress around Memorial Auditorium.
The personal contribution brings the total committed by Loftin and his company to $6.2 million. About $2.1 million is to be used to make additional improvements to the center. An additional $1 million is to go toward establishing a foundation to help bring in economically disadvantaged children for performances so they can learn about the local arts community.
“These cultural experiences can open the eyes of children to a new world,” Loftin said in a media statement. Loftin was out of town Monday and could not be reached for comment.
The $30 million performing arts center is scheduled to be completed by December 2000. It will include Memorial Auditorium, a 2,200-seat hall originally built in the 1930s; the 1,700-seat Meymandi Concert Hall; the 600-seat Fletcher Theater; a front plaza and office space. Raleigh officials said the $2.1 million will allow the city to consider using better materials – stainless steel railings, more expensive light fixtures, highest-quality wood – in the new center. “This is good news,” City Manager Dempsey Benton said. “The opportunities for enhancement of higher-quality finishing materials may be in the public areas, like the lobbies or the main stairway.” City Councilman Benson Kirkman said he would like to see some of the money go to the Carolina Ballet, the nascent company that is seeking rent-free use of the center. “The ballet needs to be part of the larger picture there,” Kirkman said. Benton said the city and BTI will work out specific uses for the $2.1 million portion of the grant over the next two to three weeks. “This is fantastic,” City Councilman Paul Coble said. “It makes you want to kick back and celebrate that you’ve got that kind of citizen that is willing to do this for the city.”
Copyright 1999 by The News & Observer Pub. Co.