$2.5M gift goes to Madera group to build arts center

03/29/2013 12:05 AM

03/29/2013 1:05 AM

The Madera County Arts Council's plan for a place to showcase artwork is getting a big boost.

The Elaine Secara Trust has donated $2.5 million to the council to help construct and maintain an arts center. The donation was announced at the council's 30th anniversary gala Saturday.

Secara, a Madera resident who was a retired Pacific Gas & Electric Co. secretary and longtime supporter of the arts, died in August 2010. Her husband, Franklin Secara, was one of the founders of the Madera County Arts Council, which was created in 1982. After Franklin Secara's death in 2002, his widow established the Elaine Secara Trust.

The Secara gift will be put to good use, council president Julia O'Kane said.

"Even though we are not ready to build a center in Madera, we are certainly appreciative of this fund, because it's going to give us a great first step in being able to construct something for Madera County residents," O'Kane said.

The council's next step is to determine the types of art the community would like to see in the center, she said.

Because it could be some time before the council is ready to move forward on the arts center, $1 million of the Secara donation will be invested with the Fresno Regional Foundation in the newly created Madera Arts Council Designated Organization Fund. The fund will help the arts council maximize investment returns.

"The Madera Arts Council is enriching their community with their artwork and we want to encourage that. This is one way of us saying we appreciate what they do," said Dan DeSantis, chief executive officer of the Fresno Regional Foundation.

The Fresno Regional Foundation is a nonprofit community foundation serving the central San Joaquin Valley in efforts to improve lives by encouraging philanthropy.

The foundation provides opportunities for individual donors, families, businesses and other foundations to invest in programs that address a spectrum of economic, social, educational, cultural and environmental needs.

The Madera County Arts Council also is investing an undisclosed amount of money with CitizensTrust, which provides wealth management and investment services through Citizens Business Bank of Madera, O'Kane said.

Contributions to the Madera County Arts Council can be made by contacting the organization at (559) 661-7005.

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