Million-dollar gift will have positive impact
Reprinted with the permission from The Norfolk Daily News
March 17, 2012
LINCOLN — “This is a wonderful gift that will make a tangible difference.”
With those words, Terry Ferguson, president of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, aptly described the impact that a $1 million donation from the John W. Carson Foundation will have on Nebraska.
At a press conference Friday morning in the state capital rotunda here, and at a similar event Friday afternoon at the Holland Center in Omaha, the continuing interest in promoting and supporting the cultural arts via the foundation created by the late Johnny Carson was lauded.
The $1 million gift — the third substantial donation to the Nebraska Cultural Endowment by Carson and, after his death, his foundation — will have a positive impact in a variety of ways, including:
— The donation gives a significant boost to the private fundraising done by the endowment in order to qualify for additional matching state dollars.
— The donation aids the ability of the endowment to continue its support of the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Humanities Council and partner organizations, including the Norfolk Arts Council.
— Part of the interest earnings on the donation have been earmarked to financially support the Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk, which was created in 2008 to honor the legacy of Carson, who grew up in Norfolk and went on to be the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for 30 years.
Paula Pflueger of Norfolk, who is a member of the cultural endowment’s advisory council, spoke at the Lincoln press conference about the impact Johnny Carson has had on Nebraska and the statewide benefits that result from the efforts of the Nebraska Humanities Council and Nebraska Arts Council to promote the cultural arts in schools and elsewhere.
State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk was thanked by Pamela Snow, executive director of the endowment, for his support in the Legislature for the endowment.
Several other former lawmakers also were thanked for their efforts to pass the legislation in the late 1990s that created the public-private partnership.
In Omaha, Wayne Brown, the music and operator director for the National Endowment for the Arts, was the featured speaker at that press conference to announce the Carson gift. Joan Squires, president and chief executive officer of Omaha Performing Arts, also spoke.
Since 2000, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment has accessed over $5 million of income from the public fund statewide for programs and projects in the arts and humanities by way of contributions to the endowment.
Statewide educational initiatives that expand the reach of the arts across the state such as Sheldon Statewide and the Lied Center’s Arts Across Nebraska are funded exclusively by the endowment.
The Nebraska Humanities Council’s Prime Time Family Reading Time, a statewide low- literacy, low-income family reading program relies on endowment support.