The New York Times writes about the shifting meaning of "perpetuity" when the word is applied to putting multimillion-dollar donors' names on cultural institutions. The article was prompted by Lincoln Center's recent deal with the heirs of 1970s patron Avery Fisher to allow the venue to change the name of its concert hall in hopes of attracting a lucrative new gift, and it cites other donor pacts in which perpetuity carried a time limit.
"Perpetuity is usually a matter of negotiation now," said William D. Zabel, an attorney for the Fisher family, which received $15-million to give up naming rights to the New York Philharmonic's hall. Mr. Zabel has also negotiated naming pacts that sunset after the donor's last grandchild dies, or gives a family right of first refusal when a deal expires. He said donors who accept time limits are being more charitable because they empower an institution to reap future financial benefits.
Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy opinion column about the Lincoln Center's renaming agreement for Avery Fisher Hall.