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Eastman House announces $100,000 Fielding Challenge

Philanthropists Ron and Donna Fielding have been active with museum for more than 20 years, stemming from their first date at the Dryden Theatre

Rochester, N.Y., February 16, 2010—George Eastman House announces a $100,000 challenge for 2010, offered by long-time friends Ron and Donna Fielding. Donations made to the museum this year will be matched dollar for dollar. The Fielding Challenge -- being promoted with the tagline “Help us Do A Double-Take” --  is active for every new and increased unrestricted gift made to Eastman House this year, including becoming a member and upgrading membership to a new level. 

The Fieldings have been active Eastman House members for more than 20 years, contributing close to $4 million to the museum. Ron Fielding has served as a trustee of Eastman House since 1994 and as chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2000 to 2002. Donna Fielding has served on the board of the Eastman House Council, the museum’s volunteer fundraising organization.

“Ron and Donna are two of the most steadfast leaders of George Eastman House in the museum’s 60-year history,” said Dr. Anthony Bannon, director of Eastman House.

Professionally, Ron Fielding created the Rochester Funds and served as senior vice president of Oppenheimer Funds, before retiring in May 2009.

“Ron has a brilliant financial mind,” Bannon said. “Both staff and trustees have benefited from Ron’s ability to create financial models and forecast the fiscal future for the museum. His economic reality checks have led to smart decision-making in investments, cash management, and fundraising strategy.”

The Fieldings’ active involvement with Eastman House has given them a unique understanding of the challenges faced in these difficult economic times.

“We understand the increased pressures on the Eastman House’s operating budget right now, as New York state law prohibits non-profits from drawing revenue from endowment funds that have dropped below their historic dollar value,” Ron Fielding said. “When Donna and I made a gift to the museum’s endowment, it was in recognition that a museum the size of George Eastman House needs to draw significantly from its endowments to help run operations.

“The market will recover,” he noted, “but the museum needs funds today, and everyone who cares about photography, film, or George Eastman, should be a part of the Eastman’s House’s financial sustainability.”

The Fieldings’ passion for Eastman House may in part stem from their first date to Eastman House’s Dryden Theatre to watch an Akira Kurosawa film. They’ve been returning to the Dryden and Eastman House together ever since.

“The Dryden Theatre has helped feed our passion for film for many years,” said Donna Fielding. “Through Eastman House, we’ve been able to meet many of the great talents we’ve watched on the silver screen, from Tony Curtis and Audrey Hepburn to Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges.”

The Fieldings’ generosity stretches beyond Eastman House. For example, the Seneca Park Zoo Society, Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, and Geva Theatre Center have benefited from their support and active involvement. The theater at Geva that bears their name, the Ron and Donna Fielding Nextstage, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year,

You can take part in the Fielding Challenge at Eastman House by calling (585) 271-3361 ext. 261 or by visiting eastmanhouse.org.