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For week ended December 19, 1999 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS couple gives $5 million to new Austin arts center
Austin TX American Statesman 16Dec99 P2
By Michael Barnes: American-Statesman Arts Writer

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- LDS businessman Kevin Rollins and his wife Debra are making a significant contribution to the cultural life of Austin through a $5 million donation to the prospective Long Center for the Performing Arts. The donation will help reach the $50 to $60 million fundraising goal for creating the Center from the current Palmer Auditorium.

The new Center will have three auditoriums, including a small, 300-seat studio theater that will now be named for the Rollins family. In spite of his business training, both Rollins and his wife have extensive training in the arts. Kevin is trained as a classical violinist, while his wife studied modern dance, piano and flute. All four of their children also play musical instruments.

"Since I was old enough to walk, my mother had me singing, playing the piano or violin," said Rollins, who is vice chairman of Dell Computer Corporation, one of the largest computer manufacturers in the U.S. and the largest selling direct to the consumer. "The arts -- classical as well as contemporary -- are a part of all our lives. In Austin, the contemporary is doing very well, but the classical has suffered from a lack of venues, which is why we are excited about this project."

Rollins met his wife while both were studying at BYU, where Kevin received an MBA. They then went to Boston, where Kevin rose to become a partner and director of management consultants Bain &Co. Before becoming vice chairman, Rollins was President of Dell Americas, where he oversaw Dell's North American operations.

While in Boston, the Rollinses honed their enthusiasm for the arts. "Having enjoyed the Boston Pops and the symphony, ballet and theater while living in Boston, we know what assets the performing arts add to a community," Debra Rollins said.

This isn't the first major donation for the Rollinses. They previously donated $1 million in concert with fellow Dell executives in a $16 million package to the Austin Museum of Art.


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