ISU Headlines

Jensen will match Stephens Center gifts

Posted October 19, 2006

Joseph C. Jensen has issued a challenge. The Idaho State University Foundation board president has pledged to contribute a 20 percent match for each gift of a named seat in any of the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center’s three performance venues.

Four other Foundation board members have joined him with matching pledges of their own. Challenge revenues will help support the center’s costs by founding an endowment proposed by ISU President Arthur C. Vailas to bring big-name acts to the Stephens Center.

 Jensen, a Pocatello native and ISU alumnus, and his wife, Cheryl, are the namesakes of the Joseph C. and Cheryl H. Jensen Grand Concert Hall in the Stephens Center. His challenge is for a maximum of $250,000 for seats purchased by April 1.

“Joe Jensen wanted to find a way to spur the sale of seats in the Stephens Center, as well as begin building the endowment for the arts that Pres. Vailas has proposed,” says Graham Garner, ISU interim director of development, “and we have several board members who also stepped up.”

Anne Voillequé, of Idaho Falls, also a major ISU supporter, pledged a maximum of $100,000, and Foundation board members Mike Byrne, Bill Eames and James E. Rogers pledged up to $25,000 each for named seats.

Seats can be named in the Jensen Grand Concert Hall for $5,000 each, in the Beverly B. Bistline Thrust Theatre for $3,500 each, and in the James E. and Beverly Rogers Black Box Theatre for $1,500 each.

Garner said that since Jensen issued his initial challenge on Sept. 22, some 30 seats have been named.

“The deadline is April 1, the anniversary of the grand opening of the Jensen Concert Hall, which gives us about six months,” Garner says. “Joe’s hope is that we can sell 250 seats. If we do, we will have raised as much as $1.25 million for the Center and $575,000 for the endowment.”

He says that all matching funds will go into the endowment for the arts.

“The endowment will be used for several purposes, most notably to bring high-caliber performers to the center that we might otherwise not draw. It will also be used to put on clinics by the performers and give our students exposure to these performers that they otherwise would not have. In essence, we are trying to match a high-class center with high-class performances,” Garner says.

He cites as an example, the Boston Pops Orchestra, which costs $185,000 per concert.

 “We’d like to have them perform here, but at that cost ticket prices would be astronomical. The endowment could pay the Pops’ fee, leaving tickets prices reasonable, and ticket revenue could be put back in the center,” Garner says.

 For information on seat-naming opportunities in the Stephens Center, contact Garner at the ISU Foundation at (208) 282-3470 or garngrah@isu.edu.