The Walt Disney Concert Hall. Photo by John Schreiber.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic announced Wednesday that a $20 million gift will create both an innovation fund and an unusual chief executive officer position.

One of the largest donations in the history of the LA Phil, the gift will be divided into two equal parts: $10 million to endow the David C. Bohnett Presidential Chair, and $10 million to launch the David C. Bohnett Presidential Fund for Discovery and Innovation.

While the naming of a chair is common practice in major academic institutions, the endowment of a CEO position is rare in artistic organizations, said Diane B. Paul, chair of the board of directors of LA Phil.

The naming of the David C. Bohnett Presidential Chair endows the position of president and CEO in perpetuity — the position held by Deborah Borda since 2000.

Bohnett, a former board chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association who currently serves on the board and the executive committee, made the gift in honor of Borda’s accomplishments with the LA Phil.

The Fund for Discovery and Innovation will be distributed at the discretion of the president for programs that continue to shape the LA Phil through investments in new audience development and initiatives that enhance the institution’s mission of innovative programming and social responsibility to the community, Paul said.

Bohnett “has again demonstrated not only his incredible generosity and commitment to the Philharmonic, but also his profound belief that musical institutions have an important role to play in civic life,” Borda said.

“He truly sees the arts and education as an essential human service,” she said. “I am deeply grateful to David for his support and friendship over the years and now for this transformative gift. His visionary philanthropy will allow the LA Phil to continue to expand the programmatic boundaries of the American symphony orchestra as a pioneer of innovation and excellence. I am honored to occupy a position that bears his name.”

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