Disney descendant replaces Beutner as CalArts chairman


California Institute of the Arts, the school that Walt Disney co-founded in the 1960s, has named the entertainment legend’s great-nephew Tim Disney to lead its board of trustees.

He replaces Austin M. Beutner, who stepped down after leading the board since 2006. Beutner became publisher of the Los Angeles Times in August.

CalArts is known for its innovative approach to arts education, spanning visual art, dance, film and video, music, theater and critical studies. Alumni include filmmakers Tim Burton and John Lasseter, visual artist Mark Bradford, and “Saturday Night Live” cast member Cecily Strong.


“Our faculty and alumni have transformed culture throughout the country, and the world,” Disney said in an email to The Times. “I hope to help CalArts carry on the tradition of excellence, and to foster the spirit of experimentation and innovation that have made CalArts one of the country’s truly great educational institutions.”

Disney, 53, is the grandson of Roy O. Disney, who founded CalArts with his famous brother Walt in 1961. Disney is also the co-founder of Uncommon Productions, which he started in 2000 with Bill Haney. The company makes feature films and documentaries.

“As an independent filmmaker and entrepreneur across a number of fields, Tim brings a very special combination of knowledge and passion for the arts combined with the foresight and financial savvy that will guide CalArts through this era of rapid change,” CalArts President Steven Lavine said.

CalArts has a combined graduate and undergraduate enrollment of 1,459 students. During Beutner’s tenure, the school’s endowment rose to $141 million, up from $97 million, according to CalArts.

Beutner also established in 2009 the Beutner Family Award. He gave the school $1 million that went toward 20 scholarships of up to $50,000 each. In a statement, the CalArts board thanked Beutner for his leadership, saying the school “expresses its profound gratitude to Austin Beutner and acknowledges his wise and strategic leadership of the Institute.”

“It’s good to bring in new ideas and people with a fresh set of energy,” Beutner said. “I’ll still stay involved. I have a real passion and commitment to CalArts and the work they do there, but I just think it’s time. And Tim is absolutely an inspired choice.”


Beutner, who remains chairman of the board of the Broad Stage, said he doesn’t plan to step down from that post. “I sit on several boards, and they’re all not-for-profits,” he said, later adding: “They’re making a difference in the community, and I think that if I can continue to invest my time and energy and sometimes my resources to support their efforts, that’s a good thing.”

Tim Disney is also chairman of the REDCAT Council at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, and he sits on the board of the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Twitter: @debvankin