Billionaire Frank McCourt Makes $45 Million Donation to Manhattan Cultural Institution
The Shed will be “the first multi-arts center designed to commission, produce, and present all types of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture,” according to its website, and will be located on the West Side of Manhattan where the High Line meets Hudson Yards. The concept is to bring together leading artists under one roof to collaborate and find ways they can create together.
McCourt became a member of the Shed’s board of directors after being identified by Dan Doctoroff (Chairman of the Board of the Shed) as a property owner in the neighborhood (he owns a vacant lot on 30th street and 10th Avenue which he has plans to develop) and someone who exhibited serious interest in the city's cultural community, according to the Shed’s spokesperson.
“We had to be pretty scrappy in thinking about how to raise money for this institution,” says Daniel L. Doctoroff, who was former deputy mayor in New York City under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “We thought the natural supporters of the property were those who had a belief in the neighborhood. When Frank’s purchase become public, we reached out to him”
“He was really excited about the idea,” Doctoroff continues. “For what we consider to be the first 21st century institution, we discovered that what artists needed was a really flexible space in which to collaborate. Frank thinks in non-traditional ways.”
Prior to his current gift, McCourt also loaned his land for Prelude to the Shed, a temporary exhibition in May 2018 designed to demonstrate the Shed’s mission. The property is right across the street from where the Shed is being built.
He gave his gift to the capital campaign, which includes building project costs, support for the first three years of the program, commissions and organizational start-up expenses, according to a spokesperson at the Shed. They are naming the largest space— the 17,000-square-foot multi-use The McCourt—after him.
The first project in The McCourt will be a concert series titled Soundtrack of America conceived of by 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen to explore African-American music from its 17th-century roots up through present-day forms of hip-hop and jazz.
“We are particularly interested in investing in new institutions which more naturally generate new ideas and innovative solutions,” McCourt wrote in an email to Penta. “The Shed is in, and of, New York, but it’s impact, and its audience, will be global. Projects like this are well worth supporting wherever they sprout.”
McCourt, part of a fifth generation real-estate development family from Boston, moved to L.A. in 2004, and owned the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team for eight years until 2012. In addition to his real-estate holdings, he owns the operating rights to the L.A. Marathon, a professional soccer team in Marseille, France, and the Equestrian Global Champions League, a touring show-jumping competition based in the Netherlands.
The $45 million gift to the Shed is not his only large donation. He gave $100 million to his alma mater, Georgetown University, for the McCourt School of Public Policy in 2013. McCourt gave $10 million and is on the board of The Future Project, an educational charity based in New York that provides underserved high school students with college admissions and career planning services.
“We are at a point in time when institutions of all kinds—cultural, academic, and social—need strong support,” McCourt says.
The Shed has other benefactors too, of course. Bloomberg’s foundation has donated $75 million. Also on the board of directors is Andres Santo Domingo, Jonathan M. Tisch, Diane von Furstenberg and Dasha Zhukova.