The AT&T Foundation is giving $1 million to the planned Collin County arts hall, officials will announce today.
"We're honored to receive the gift," said Mike Simpson, the hall's executive director. "I think it will help tremendously because it will show other large companies the commitment of a company like AT&T."
The AT&T Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, will hold a news conference in Allen to announce the donation. Members of the Arts of Collin County Commission, which oversees the hall's development, will be present.
The gift marks the latest major development for the long-planned arts hall in the last three weeks. Officials recently named Mr. Simpson, a former Frisco mayor, the organization's executive director.
The 2,100-seat multiuse venue is a joint project of Allen, Frisco and Plano. A total of $60 million in public money has been committed.
AT&T's gift brings the private contributions to $8 million. The hall is expected to cost $85 million, leaving a shortfall of $17 million. Backers would like to raise $19 million to cover any increases.
"The timing is great for us," said Steve Matthews, arts commission president. "It's a reminder there are still major gifts to be had out there."
Discussions with AT&T about a donation began more than two years ago, he said. Mr. Simpson was not directly involved in the talks.
"This is an exciting project," said Holly Reed, AT&T's regional vice president of external affairs. "Clearly, there's a collaboration here that's unique."
Arts officials are meeting with individuals and corporations about other large donations, Mr. Matthews said. He said he was confident gifts would be made but would not say when.
The hall, centerpiece of a 124-acre arts park near Custer Road and State Highway 121 in Allen, was announced in '01. McKinney voters rejected participation, raising the amount of private funds needed.
Groundbreaking has been delayed several times. Now, the earliest the hall could open is 2012, Mr. Simpson said. Mr. Simpson, who took over as executive director on Monday, hopes to raise the remaining $19 million within a year.
AT&T's donation will create the AT&T Learning Room, which can host events such as recitals, lectures and plays. Technology will allow for live streaming of events, simulcasts and podcasts, Ms. Reed said.
State Sen. Florence Shapiro, who knows Ms. Reed, helped arrange meetings that led to the donation.
"This is a real good shot in the arm for the facility," said Ms. Shapiro, R-Plano. "It's a great concept. It's something, I think, Collin County and the surrounding counties will benefit from greatly."