As reports from the National Endowment for the Arts have shown, philanthropy has played a significant role in the growth of art-making and participation in the U.S. and San Diego over the past 40 years. In addition, more than most other countries, individual philanthropy is a distinct aspect of the U.S. art economy.
Countless philanthropists such as Conrad Prebys, Jill Hall and the Fayman family have shaped arts and culture in San Diego.
Built on a deep appreciation for the impact art can have on individuals and communities, the Fayman’s story is one that spans generations.
The late San Diego philanthropists Danah Fayman and her husband Lynn, donors at The San Diego Foundation, were known throughout the community as true champions for arts and culture in the region, supporting numerous organizations such as the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and San Diego Foundation for the Performing Arts.
As their son Corey Fayman shared, “my parents believed that the arts were a unifying aspect in the San Diego community and they made it their life’s mission to strengthen the arts in the region.”
Even today, the Fayman’s impact can be seen in countless arts initiatives and institutions throughout San Diego.
For example, the Old Globe Theatre’s emergence as one of the region’s signature arts destinations can in part be attributed to the generosity and leadership of the Fayman family.
While today we know the Old Globe as a premier arts destination in San Diego, it was once an amateur theatre without the same worldwide notoriety. On March 8, 1978, a fire destroyed the landmark theatre and the disaster marked a turning point for the company. Recognizing the potential of the space, Danah, who was serving on the Old Globe Board of Directors at the time, immediately provided the funds needed to commission a study that assessed the feasibility of the Old Globe becoming a professional institution.
In January 1981, thanks in part to the findings of that report, the theatre’s Board of Directors established the Old Globe as a year-round professional company, initiating four decades of extraordinary growth.
Carrying on a Legacy
When Danah passed away in 2017, the entire San Diego arts community came together to share memories of her decades-long impact.
As Sam Woodhouse, co-founder of The San Diego Repertory Theatre expressed to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Danah was a beacon of support for progressive art in San Diego. She was a giant in our cultural community.”
Others also mentioned how she changed the entire makeup of performing art in San Diego. Before Danah stepped in, San Diego had very few dance companies in the region, and no major national or international dance company toured in the region. In response, Danah created the San Diego Foundation for the Performing Arts, which brought renowned dance companies to San Diego, such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet and Martha Graham Dance Company.
Today, San Diego is rich with performing arts groups and organizations.
“The San Diego’s arts scene is much more dynamic today. When I was growing up, San Diego didn’t have a robust community for artists. Nowadays, thanks to so many people like my parents and other leaders, the community of artists is much more connected, and opportunities abound for San Diegans to experience all different types of art.” – Corey Fayman
While Danah is no longer with us, her legacy continues through the work of her children. Years ago, she established the Lynn Fayman Fund for Dance, a legacy fund at The San Diego Foundation that is now managed by her three sons Corey, Bruce and Fred.
All three are artists in their own personal and professional lives and value the opportunity they have to continue supporting organizations in line with the family’s passions.
The Lynn Fayman Fund for Dance supports performing arts in the San Diego region and recently provided a grant to the Dorothea Laub Dance Place, an organization that holds a special place in the family’s hearts.
“One of the last memories we have of our mother before she passed away was when my brother Fred took her to see a performance at the Dorothea Laub Dance Place,” shared Corey. “That place represented so much of what she had worked for all her life by supporting dance companies throughout the region.”
Strengthening the Region
San Diego has a rich history of impactful leaders and donors, and the Fayman family is one of many examples of how philanthropy has positively changed our region for the better.
Learn how you can make a difference in the community by opening your own legacy fund with The San Diego Foundation.