Anonymous donor gives record $60 million gift to SF Ballet for new works

San Francisco Ballet announced Thursday that it has received the largest donation in its history, with a $60million gift presented by an anonymous donor.

"Thrilled, being awed and humbled," said Arturo Jacobus, Interim executive director of the San Francisco Ballet. "It's clearly an historic gift for SF Ballet and the world of ballet."

"It's not just me but all future directors will be able to create the classics of the future," said Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of the SF Ballet.

"It's five times larger than the biggest gift we've every received," Jacobus said. "This donor wanted to ensure that SF Ballet would in perpetuity have the ability to do new works."

At the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco Thursday night, the ballet was performing a set of modern works.

"This is my first time going tonight. It was really exciting," Robert Kohlman said. "My friend Patrick invited me and I like trying new things and I thought it would be really fun."

Kohlman's friend Patrick Smith of San Francisco said he remembers being invited to the ballet for the first time.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd be a season ticket holder," Smith said. "It opened up my eyes, and my ears, but even more so my heart."

"This donor wanted to ensure that SF Ballet would in perpetuity have the ability to do new works," Jacobus said.

"The donor would like to see this historical gift raise the sights and inspire other donors to give bigger gifts to this company and other ballet companies," Jacobus said. "To be able to bring in new audiences is absolutely key to bring in new audiences with SF Ballet."

"I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with it and seeing all the ballets they put on, because I plan to keep coming to t
he ballet here," Kathryn Maulhardt of Novato said. She and her friend Joan Brenta of San Anselmo say they enjoy the modern works.

"Modern ballet, I'm very attracted to the uniqueness of it and it represents San Francisco to me," Brenta said.

Rojo says she's grateful for the donor's gift to the company, which comes just as she is beginning her new season.

"I believe in the transportative power of the performing arts," said Rojo. "We're here to provide solace. We're here to provide a common empathy and understanding for different points of view, in a way that is unconfrontational which is very rare today."