Stories of Support

Sit. Stay. Support.

Nancie, Ted, and Delilah Burkett each named a seat in PAFA's new auditorium.

Nancie, Ted, and Delilah Burkett each named a seat in PAFA's new auditorium.

Last fall, we gave members of the PAFA community the opportunity to support the PAFA First campaign by naming seats in our new Arts Center auditorium. Long-time patrons Nancie and Ted Burkett were among the first to reserve a trio of seats: one for Nancie, one for Ted, and one for their poodle, Delilah. Their gift won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has spent time with the Burketts. “We have always had poodles. Delilah was very much part of the family,” says Nancie.

The Burketts have been members of the PAFA family for over two decades. They first became more involved after they joined the Collector’s Circle, a predecessor of the Peale Circle. Nancie says that the exclusive member programs “give us insights into the collection and special exhibitions we wouldn’t always get from going through on our own. We also like the opportunities to visit local artists and private collections."

The PAFA First campaign represented a turning point in the Burketts’ steady support. A few months after naming seats in the auditorium, Nancie and Ted felt that they could contribute further.  This year, they made an additional commitment—their largest to PAFA to date—and named a studio on the 9th floor of the Hamilton Building.

We are grateful to Ted, Nancie, Delilah, and the many donors who have together named over 40 seats in our new auditorium. There is still time to reserve your place in this exciting new venue—with a gift of $2,500 or more, we will engrave your name or message on a brass seat plaque. A limited number of seats are also available in the first two rows for $5,000. 

PAFA’s Board Chairman Rises to the Challenge

In early 2017, the Daniel W. Dietrich II Foundation awarded PAFA $500,000 to support the construction of a new Arts Center. In recognition of this generous grant, PAFA will name the Arts Center auditorium stage in memory of the late Dietrich, who was a 50-year patron, board member, donor of artwork, and supporter of exhibitions and programs at PAFA.

The Foundation’s support came with two conditions: in order to obtain the funds, PAFA is required to raise by December 2017 the $6.5 million needed to complete the Arts Center, and commence construction on the project no later than January 2018.

Soon after notification of the grant and its terms arrived, PAFA’s leadership commenced to accelerate the architectural planning and fundraising efforts for the project to ensure that these deadlines were met and the matching funds secured.

PAFA’s Board Chairman, Kevin F. Donohoe, is an especially committed champion of the Arts Center. In his words: “Of the many components of the campaign, I feel strongly that the Arts Center is one of the most critical…it represents an opportunity for PAFA to expand its audience and build its reputation as a premier venue for art and performance.”

Rather than feel burdened by the challenging terms of the Dietrich grant, Kevin and his wife Betsy felt inspired to step forward and ensure that these matching funds not go unclaimed.  They decided to increase the stakes—by issuing a challenge of their own. In an exceptional act of leadership and generosity, Kevin and Betsy pledged an additional $250,000 toward the Arts Center, contingent on PAFA’s first meeting the terms of the Dietrich Challenge. This increased gift raises Kevin and Betsy’s total support of the Campaign to $1 million, and represented a call-to-action for PAFA’s extraordinary community of artists, collectors, and donors to step forward and help ensure that the opportunity not pass PAFA by.

As of September 2017, PAFA has successfully raised the $6.5 million to fully fund the Arts Center. PAFA is especially grateful to Kevin, Betsy, and the Daniel W. Dietrich II Foundation for their generosity toward this important project. Their support has advanced the Arts Center and the PAFA First Campaign forward dramatically.

Julie Jensen Bryan and Robert Bryan


Julie Jensen Bryan and Robert Bryan have been loyal friends of PAFA and champions of the arts for many years. They are among the individuals helping to ensure the success of the PAFA First Campaign with their generous support.

Julie is a longtime PAFA volunteer who has given her time and talents by chairing events, serving on numerous committees, and through her tireless work as a longtime member of PAFA’s Women’s Board. An artist in her own right, Julie is a noted photographer who has exhibited her work internationally and has studied with Arnold Newman, Mary Ellen Mark, and Lisette Model. The arts are also close to the heart of Robert Bryan, an architect who has studied and practiced both in the U.S. and abroad. He also taught and lectured in numerous university and architectural groups and has done considerable architectural photography.

In her own words, Julie explained that she and Robert chose to support PAFA First because “PAFA is a fabulous part of Philadelphia’s history, but it’s exciting to see that we’re creating new artists now that speak to this generation. We’re not stuck in the past. There are so many exciting things happening with the curriculum that it’s important to make people realize that PAFA has a famous history but also plays a very important role for the future.”

PAFA is extremely grateful to Julie and Robert for their generosity in helping America’s first museum and school of fine arts take the next step into its future. 

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