Los Angeles Arts Groups Courting Chinese-American Donors

The Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and other arts organizations in Southern California are actively courting Chinese Americans for support, the Los Angeles Times reports.

With a median income above the national average and a cultural heritage that values the arts, the Chinese-American community would appear to be a promising source of donations, but many Chinese Americans in Southern California are immigrants without strong connections to the city's cultural institutions. And while wealthy Chinese Americans in the region have generously supported the sciences, education, and health care, arts philanthropy is a relatively new concept in Los Angeles compared to other metro areas with large Chinese-American populations such as New York, San Francisco, and Orange County.

To address that challenge, the L.A. Phil is making a "serious effort" to attract Chinese-American audiences, which it hopes will translate into financial support, said president and CEO Deborah Borda, while the Annenberg Center recently held a gala to honor Eva Hsieh, the wife of Ming Hsieh, the Chinese-born billionaire founder of Cogent Systems; the couple gives millions of dollars annually through its foundation. "We're always looking for opportunities to engage new donors, and you're going to find those people in the audience," said the center's managing director, Tania Camargo. "So with the Chinese-American community, of course, we're aware they're becoming more involved philanthropically, and that's encouraging."

Other area arts institutions courting Chinese-American audiences and donors include the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which has received a $20 million pledge from billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group; the Huntington Library, which has raised $42 million for its partly completed Chinese Garden, with about half that  coming from donors with Chinese heritage; and the L.A. Chamber Orchestra, which raised approximately $535,000 at its first Chinese New Year benefit with a dinner and concert program featuring Chinese soloists.

"Within a decade from now, there's no question in my mind there will be major donations to museums and other groups," said East West Bank chair and CEO Dominic Ng. "As Chinese Americans continue to prosper, they will naturally expand their involvement in the community."

David Ng. "SoCal Arts Groups Courting a New Donor Source: Chinese Americans." Los Angeles Times 02/18/2015.