Eli Broad Quits Disney Hall Post


After leading a campaign that raised more than $120 million in less than three years for the once-moribund Walt Disney Concert Hall project, Eli Broad is stepping down.

Officials announced Wednesday that Broad, 65, chairman and chief executive officer of the financial services company SunAmerica Inc., will be replaced Aug. 1 as the volunteer chairman of the Disney Hall oversight board by William E.B. Siart, the former chairman and chief executive officer of First Interstate Bancorp.

Siart, 51, was a candidate last year for superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District but lost the job to Ruben Zacarias. Siart is president and chief executive officer of EXED LCC, an educational company he formed to provide business services for charter public schools.


“I signed on to raise the money,” Broad said Wednesday after the announcement of his resignation. “I never intended for this to become a six-year engagement.”

On Monday, Broad had announced $20 million in additional donations for what is to be the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, bringing the amount secured to $196 million. That total slightly exceeds a Los Angeles County requirement that 95% of the $205 million needed to build the hall be raised by December. The project’s overall cost, including $50 million already spent on design of the building, is expected to total $255 million. Construction of the hall, designed by Frank O. Gehry, is slated to start in April for a 2002 opening.

“It’s been an interesting, rewarding and occasionally difficult 2 1/2 years,” said Broad, who also co-founded Kaufman & Broad, a housing developer. “It’s the perfect time to pass the baton to someone who’s got the new energy to see it through.”

Broad’s tenure has not been without conflict. The Disney Hall board was formed after several months of heated dispute between Broad and Gehry over control of design and building plans, which caused the architect to threaten to walk off the project in May 1997. Those issues have since been resolved.

Told Wednesday that Broad is stepping down, Gehry said: “Whatever they do is fine, I’m just doing the building. I’m the architect.”

Broad personally donated $5 million to the project. He will remain on the Disney Hall board but said he is turning leadership over to Siart to concentrate on SunAmerica and to lead an effort to bring the Democratic National Convention to Los Angeles in 2000.


Siart has served on the board of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1994 and became involved with Disney Hall in August as a member of a new fund-raising and oversight board that also includes Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney; Mayor Richard Riordan; Los Angeles Music Center Chairman Andrea Van de Kamp; Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; and other business and civic leaders.

The fund-raising so far “is only half the job,” Siart said. “The other is going from here to ensuring the hall is built and opens in the year 2002.” He also said he made a personal donation for the hall, but declined to reveal the amount.

With most of the fund-raising already done, Siart said he sees his role as managerial--coordinating activities of construction chief Jack Burnell, Gehry and the county. Siart will also oversee a campaign to raise a $95-million endowment for the downtown Music Center, where Disney Hall will become the fourth performing arts venue. Twenty million dollars has already been raised for that endowment.

The concert hall project was instigated in 1987 by a $50-million donation from Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian B. Disney. Since then, Disney family contributions have grown to about $100 million.

“I am real happy with the state of things,” Miller said Wednesday. “I think that, without really too much pain and angst over the past couple of years, everything came to a pretty good resolution for this project.”