$100M for Culture in Lowell. Picture It.

Entertainment titan David Geffen will give $100 million to renovate one performance hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. The total cost of the project is estimated at $500M. Read the NYTimes story here.

While certain individuals in the city and the Greater Lowell community as a whole have been generous with donations for all kinds of cultural causes, we don’t have a history of getting massive gifts for arts and culture in Lowell. Picture what $100 million could do for Lowell’s cultural sector. Just for comparison, consider that the initial funding authorization for Lowell’s national park was $40M, and that since 1978 the park, including Canalway and Riverwalk construction, has yielded nearly $300M in federal funding in the city. That’s public money. Geffen’s is a private gift.

I know there are many community needs in the areas of jobs, health, public safety, education, infrastructure, etc. New York City has social and economic challenges also. But Lowell presents itself as a cultural hub, and there are people who want to give money to support the arts and humanities.

What would you do with that amount of money? Where would you start? And how would you manage the funds to assure the progress would be sustained? We’ve seen with the Riverwalk, for example, that building funds can be obtained, however, money for maintenance is a different and in a way more difficult challenge.