Arts & Music
Performing arts center to be named for Tampa philanthropist
TAMPA - A sizable endowment gift from a Tampa philanthropist and patron of the arts will result in a name change for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. The 22-year-old city-owned facility will become the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in honor of the longtime Tampa resident who founded and sold several banks in Florida and Wisconsin during his business career. Straz, nationally known for supporting the arts, also is a director of the Metropolitan Opera. "We are all better people when we have access to the arts," Straz said following a news conference Monday to announce the name change. "Every great city deserves a great performing arts center," he continued. "Tampa already has one and our goal is to ensure that it remains world class."As part of a confidentially request, the amount of the donation was not disclosed but reportedly it is the largest individual philanthropic gift made to a cultural institution in Tampa. Judy Lisi, president of the Performing Arts Center, said the gift "is a wonderful commitment" and "a significant step toward an endowment goal of $100 million." It brings the endowment close to 50 percent of the goal, she said. "We are ecstatic that he believes so strongly in our mission," she said. Straz is making the gift on behalf of himself, his wife Catherine Lowry Straz (chair of the Lowry Park Zoological Society that operates Lowry Park Zoo) and his daughter Keebler. He said he hopes the gift will "energize" the endowment campaign and inspire others in the community to donate.Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said she gladly approved the name change, thanking the Straz family for "creating a legacy of a stronger performing arts center for generations to come.' Lisi said the name transition will be gradual. Opening in 1987, the 335,000 square-foot center, which consists of five theaters, three restaurants and the Patel Conservatory, has one of the nation's leading
Reporter Walt Belcher can be reached at (813) 259-7654.