Kennedy Center to turn Russian

Some gifts require imagination, others – an explanation. Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin has given… a $5 million gift to Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to mark its 40th anniversary.

­The biggest shareholder in the world’s largest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, and founder of Interros Company, Potanin’s foundation will support the Center’s programming and general operating expenses.

“I believe the Kennedy Center has been playing a very important role in building strong cultural relations between our countries by presenting the greatest Russian artists to the American people,” Potanin explained in a statement released before the gift announcement.

Additional funding will be earmarked to renovate an Opera House lounge at the center, which will be renamed The Russian Lounge and redesigned to reflect motifs of traditional Russian culture.

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein was quoted as saying “Russia’s cultural heritage has enriched the Kennedy Center’s programming on countless occasions, including multiple performances by the Mariinsky Ballet, Opera and Orchestra and the Bolshoi Ballet, as well as the 17-year tenure of Mstislav Rostropovich as music director of our National Symphony Orchestra.”

Due to open its doors next autumn, the Russian Lounge will be the fourth space at the living memorial to President John F. Kennedy dedicated to a single country, along with areas devoted to China, Africa and Israel.

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