Three Madison community members and organizations pledged Wednesday to match all donations made by Madison residents to a city performing arts center by the end of April.

The Madison Gas & Electric Foundation, the Kelly Family Foundation and Overture Center board member Dianne Christensen announced they would each donate $100,000 to the Overture Center for the Arts if community members raise an equal amount by April 30, Overture spokesperson Robert Chappell said.

Chappell said corporate donations would not be counted toward the $300,000 goal. The three donors want the donations to come from individual members of the community, he said.

“Individual donations are very important,” Christensen said. “The Overture Center would not thrive without these individual donations.”

This is the second year the institution has functioned as a private non-profit, Chappell said. Community donations encompass $2.4 million of the institution’s budget, he said.

In Madison, community leaders take on an important role, Chappell said. With the match program, the donors demonstrated the importance of the institution by implying if they can give so much, then individuals can give $10 or $20 as well, he said.

“The match itself is a tremendous incentive for individuals to donate,” Chappell said. “We definitely need large contributions and need community leaders to step forward.”

Chappell said the donation drive is targeted toward the people that take advantage of the free and low cost programs the Overture Center offers. Even if they can only donate a small amount, they need to realize it will be doubled, he said.

Christensen said she decided to match donations because the Overture Center is an integral part of the Madison community. The Overture Center is one of the reasons Madison is a vibrant community and a great place to live, she said. Additionally, she said, matching donations is a good way to help the community come together in support of the arts center.

Chappell said the donors decided to match the donations because they felt the Overture Center was valuable to the community. He explained a thriving Overture Center contributes to a thriving downtown economy.

The donors want to make sure the institution is lively, so it brings people downtown and encourages them to spend money downtown, Chappell said.

“[The donors] understand the arts are for everyone, whether or not they can afford to buy a Broadway ticket,” Chappell said. “They want to provide top quality arts experiences without high ticket price, and [the Overture Center] can’t do that without donations.”

Reaching the goal is important because the institution does a lot of outreach through the community, Christensen said. The money raised by the community will help get more people into the Overture Center through free and low cost events, she said.

The Overture Center will be communicating with patrons over the next few days to make them aware of the matching program. It is important to communicate to the community that any donations they give to the institution are now doubled, he said.

“I think it will be a very positive reaction,” Christensen said. “I see myself as stepping forward to encourage donations and I think Madison as a community will respond.”

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