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.