Downsbrough endowment to support Pennsylvania Centre Stage

During their lifetimes, George and Margaret Downsbrough were avid supporters of the arts at Penn State. So when their sons, George Jr. and Bruce, had an opportunity to allocate part of their estate to philanthropy, they made a $350,000 gift to Pennsylvania Centre Stage (PACS), creating the George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Endowment. It will be used to help keep performances accessible and affordable and to maintain the highest artistic quality by enhancing students’ opportunities to work with theatre professionals.

downsGeorge Downsbrough, who was president of the HRB Singer Co. in State College from 1970 to 1975, remained a local resident until his death in 2004. He and his wife, Margaret, who passed away in 2000, were volunteers and benefactors in support of many Penn State programs, including PACS, the Center for the Performing Arts and the Palmer Museum of Art. They were longtime members of the Friends of the Palmer, and Margaret served on the Friends’ board.

According to Bruce Downsbrough, Centre Stage was one of several arts programs that his parents dearly loved. “I remember visiting them during the 2000 season, when my mom was not well, and accompanying my dad to the opening night performance of the play ART. Being part of the opening night celebration and enjoying the performance meant so much to him. My brother and I both agreed it would be appropriate to honor our parents by supporting a program that was an important part of their lives.”

Private giving has played a critical role in enabling PACS to bring together students and professionals in high-quality performances for local audiences, notes Dan Carter, director of the School of Theatre and producing artistic director of Pennsylvania Centre Stage. “The Downsbrough endowment will help to assure that tradition continues,” he adds, noting that endowment funds will be used to keep ticket prices reasonable and to attract the finest available equity actors to work with local talent and mentor students.

Carter says the endowment may also be used for many other purposes, such as strengthening marketing efforts, making new educational experiences available to students, offering complimentary tickets to financially needy members of the community, and mounting unique productions that may not be solely supported by ticket sales.

George Downsbrough was named an Honorary Alumnus of Penn State in 2003 in recognition of his significant contributions across the University as a volunteer and benefactor. His career included employment in private industry and, during World War II, service in the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance. He joined the Singer Co. in 1965. After his retirement in 1975, he and Margaret raised sheep on their farm near State College. –AMM


mary jane harris donates notable baroque work to palmer museum

The Palmer Museum of Art recently unveiled Giovanni Baglione’s St. Sebastian Healed by an Angel (c. 1603), an early Italian Baroque painting given by longtime museum patron Mary Jane Harris (’46 B.A. Arts & Letters, ’47 M.A. Sociology).

The unveiling in October was part of the Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities’ “Moments of Change” initiative, a yearlong multidisciplinary series of events focusing on the early 17th century (see more on the initiative and image of the painting on the back cover). Throughout the fall semester, events celebrating the painting have included a Palmer exhibition of Old Master prints featuring the image of St. Sebastian (through December 21) and performances by School of Music faculty and students.

St. Sebastian Healed by an Angel is the sixth major painting given by Mary Jane and her late husband, Morton. In 2004, the museum named a gallery for the couple in recognition of their years of patronage and service.

Mary Jane and Morton began collecting Baroque art in the early 1960s. With collecting came expertise, and in 1986 Mary Jane joined the staff of the Piero Corsini Gallery in New York City. A member of the Palmer Museum’s Advisory Board since 1991, Mary Jane remains a valued patron who serves as an important link to the international art world. “One of her most important roles is that of ambassador for the museum,” says Patrick McGrady, Charles V. Hallman Curator. “She always champions our cause and is the main reason why key scholar and collectors in Italy, France, Germany and England know of—and speak well of—the Palmer Museum.”

A catalogue was published to celebrate the gift of St. Sebastian Healed by an Angel. It features an essay on St. Sebastian as plague saint by Pamela Jones, professor of art history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. The catalogue is available for purchase in the Palmer Museum bookstore. For more information on the museum, visit –AMM


College Welcomes New Associate Director of Development

The College of Arts and Architecture recently welcomed Sue Anne Graham as its new associate director of development and major gifts officer.

grahamGraham brings more than fifteen years of experience in fundraising to the college. After graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business from the University at Albany, she started her development career at Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y., where she served as director of annual giving. In that position, she worked with each alumni class to increase the level of their donations, encouraged non-donors to support the annual fund and developed a successful paid student-calling program similar to Penn State’s Lion Line. She subsequently worked as director of development at the Albany Academy for Girls and as individual and planned gifts manager for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where she was part of the development team that raised more than $35 million for the space science initiative, including a Kresge challenge grant.  She came to Penn State in 2004 as director of development for the University Libraries, and during the next three years, met with donors and friends in 20 states.

Graham says she is excited for the new challenge of raising major gifts for the College of Arts and Architecture. “This college provides students with a variety of areas of study, all drawing on creativity. Students hone their talents and learn new skills in visual and performing arts, music, landscape architecture, architecture and art history. I am fortunate to meet graduates of all ages, who are proud to support today’s students and faculty through scholarships, professorships, travel funds and internships.”

Graham and her husband, Russell, a professor of geosciences and director of the Earth and Mineral Science Museum in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, enjoy reading, exploring Pennsylvania and traveling, including visiting their children and grandchildren in Colorado and New Mexico.  –FWM



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