Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Women Who Redefine Beauty and Power Honored at the DVF Awards

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Fighters, survivors, builders and advocates were among those honored with a $50,000 prize at the 7th annual DVF Awards

By ALLISON MCNEARNEY for The New York Times

The fashion was on point Thursday night at the 7th annual DVF Awards, but it wasn’t nearly as stunning as the accomplishments of the women who took the stage to be honored for their work supporting women around the world.

Backed by The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, the DVF Awards honor “women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire,” with a $50,000 prize. Among this year’s five winners were a survivor of Uganda’s Civil War who fights human trafficking around the world, an award-winning playwright, and a woman creating a community that encourages girls to throw off expectations and be their authentic selves.

“Year after year, this event is an absolute high point of Women in the World. So bold, so passionate are DVF’s honorees, so profound the difference that they make, it’s wonderful to think that she’s shining her spotlight — that magical spotlight that she has — on the great work that they’re all doing,” Women in the World founder Tina Brown said in her introduction of Diane von Furstenberg.

Von Furstenberg kicked off the evening by first saluting two women who were not present: the incredible architect Zaha Hadid, who passed away last week at the age of 65, and 2015 presenter and now presidential-candidate, Hillary Clinton. “Please spread the word. We want her as our president,” von Furstenberg exhorted the champagne-sipping crowd to loud cheers.

But it was the first winner who really stole the show. Sarah Jones is an award-winning playwright who has dedicated her life and much of her work to the empowerment of women. As presenter and actress Allison Williams put it, she is “one of the shepherds of the real revolution.” To accept the Inspiration Award — and to the delight of the audience — Jones brought along a few of her characters, like young Bella who took a group selfie from the podium, telling the crowd to “channel your inner DVF and just try to feel it.” Her last “guest,” an older woman “from the subcontinent,” left the room in stitches with her final message for DVF: “We love you. We want you to know we have been wrapping the sari for a very long time.”

While Jones may have been a tough act to follow, the two winners of the International Award had powerful messages of their own. Maria Pacheco was honored for her work to economically empower women through her company Wakami, which employees rural Guatemalan women to create fashion accessories that are sold in over 20 countries. And Agnes Igoye has dedicated her life to the efforts to end human trafficking around the world, a mission she became committed to after her childhood experience surviving the Ugandan Civil War and the brutal violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

“As many of you know, and what I’ve learned through the two decades in this work, traffickers have powerful networks. The networks are in my country, they are here in the USA, they are everywhere around the world,” Igoye said. “The only way we can fight them is to have networks of our own. Networks among girlfriends, networks among NGOs, among law enforcement, social workers, survivors, but above all to empower women.”

Emily Greener, winner of the People’s Voice Award, has also taken up the mission of empowerment through her movement I AM THAT GIRL. In 2008, Greener and a friend started what is now a thriving peer-to-peer community dedicated to “creating a new normal” where girls enable and support each other to be their authentic selves. “What it means to be human is honesty, it’s truth. It’s being who we are instead of who we think we’re supposed to be,” Greener passionately said.

For the final award of the evening, von Furstenberg took the stage one last time to give a powerful introduction of the winner of the Lifetime Leadership Award. “Impossible does not exist for Dr. Martine Rothblatt. But I am possible is Martine Rothblatt,” von Furstenberg said. Rothblatt’s career has spanned an almost unimaginably vast range of interests, from the law of outer space to her role founding Sirius XM. But it’s her work for transgender rights around the world that has really distinguished her as a champion of women.

“I don’t really know if I can possibly put into words what it feels like for a transgendered woman to be recognized by this room full of extraordinarily accomplished women as a woman for being an inspiration and a help to other women,” Rothblatt said.

In her emotional acceptance speech, Rothblatt also praised the work von Furstenberg’s daughter, Tatiana, has done for the transgendered community. Rothblatt ended with a powerful message for the room packed with inspirational figures and activists, about the importance of cultivating the next generation of world changers. “What a wonderful testament to this icon, for me and for, I know, all of you here today, Diane, when a parent is able to have a daughter such as Tatiana that carries on this mission of justice into the next generation,” Rothblatt said. “I don’t think there’s any greater achievement.”

$3 Million Gift for New Signature Theater Company Home

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

By Patrick Healy for The New York Times — The family foundation of Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg has made its largest donation to an arts organization, $3 million to Signature Theater Company for its new Off Broadway home set to open in February. James Houghton, artistic director of the theater company, announced the gift for the Signature Center complex on Thursday and said that in appreciation the centerpiece stairway would be named the Diller-von Furstenberg Grand Staircase.

Mr. Houghton said that Mr. Diller, the chairman of IAC and Expedia, and Ms. Von Furstenberg, the designer, were introduced to Signature by the actor Edward Norton, who is a board member of the theater company and a co-chairman of its capital campaign.The couple’s foundation has donated to New York education, arts, and civic organizations since its creation in 1999, including a $20 million gift this fall for further expansion of the High Line park on the West Side of Manhattan.

The $66 million Signature Center project, designed by Frank Gehry, includes city financial support and several major gifts from board members and others, including a $5 million donation in honor of the playwright Romulus Linney, whose name was bestowed on one of its three new theaters. Signature, which Mr. Houghton founded in 1991, is moving into the center on West 42nd Street this winter from its single-theater home farther west on the same street.

Record $20 Million Gift to Help Finish the High Line Park

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

By Lisa W. Foderaro for The New York Times — Many visitors to the High Line, the popular park that wends above street level on the West Side of Manhattan, stop at its northern terminus and peer wistfully through a chain-link fence at the as-yet unreclaimed half-mile segment to the north. Until this week, the nonprofit conservancy that operates the High Line still needed to raise $85 million to finish the park and maintain it.

On Wednesday night, the conservancy took a major step toward that goal when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced a $20 million gift to the High Line from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation.

The gift, which will help build up the park’s endowment and pay for the design of the last section, is the single largest donation ever made to a New York City park, according to city officials.

It follows two previous donations totaling $15 million to the High Line from Barry Diller, chairman of IAC and Expedia, and his wife, the designer Diane von Furstenberg.

“It’s not surprising that Barry and Diane — visionaries that they are — got in early on the High Line project,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. “But even better, they are seeing it through. Their generosity is leading the way for the High Line to become a New York icon that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

The High Line is an unusual public-private partnership. The city paid most of the construction costs of the first two sections (the second opened earlier this year), which together run from Gansevoort to 30th Streets.

But Friends of the High Line, the conservancy that rallied to save the railway from demolition and raised money for its transformation into a park, assumed full responsibility for the cost of the operations from the start.

With three million annual visitors, 10 times what the founders of the conservancy initially envisioned, wear and tear, as well as educational programming, is a constant challenge for the 60-member staff.

“If you ask Josh or me what keeps us up at night, it’s not next year or whether we complete it — we know it will get done,” said Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line along with Joshua David. “It’s the maintenance, and this gives us security. Having an endowment gives us another revenue stream to fall back on in hard times.”

Annual operating costs for the park come to $3 million.

But perhaps just as important is the gift’s ability to propel Friends of the High Line toward the finish line: the railway’s endpoint at 34th Street. Now the curvaceous teak benches and ornamental grasses that make up the park’s northern landscaping stop abruptly at that chain-link fence.

On the other side is a jumble of weeds, rocks and old ladders. The future section, which hugs the West Side Railyards, runs west to 12th Avenue and then continues north to 34th Street.

That segment is owned by CSX Transportation, which is now in negotiations with city officials, as well as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other interested parties, on an agreement that would allow for public access. In 2005, CSX donated the portion of the High Line south of 30th Street to the city.

Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said the talks dealt with a “very complicated site.” But he added that “everyone wants for the city to eventually” obtain the site for the High Line park.

Mr. David and Mr. Hammond estimate that the final half-mile stretch will cost up to $75 million to build, about the same as each of the first two half-mile sections. Given the constraints on the city’s budget, private sources will have to cover the initial capital expense, they said. Before the new gift, Friends of the High Line had raised about $65 million toward its $150 million fund-raising goal.

In a statement, Mr. Diller took the long view. “In a hundred years, people will be amazed that this park was ever built, and during all that time it will have given pleasure to such great numbers of people,” he said. “I’m glad that our family is able to pay a small role in making the High Line a reality.”

In a city of deep-pocketed philanthropists, the donation from Mr. Diller and Ms. von Furstenberg turned heads, not least because it went to a park rather than a cultural or educational institution. Previously, the largest private gift to a park was $17 million from the philanthropist Richard Gilder in 1993 to Central Park.

Friends of the High Line hopes that the $20 million donation will inspire additional giving.

That happened once before. After the Museum of Modern Art mounted a small exhibition of designs for the park in 2005, the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation made its first gift of $5 million, generating interest in the project. Then came a gift of $10 million from the foundation in 2009. Earlier this year, Tiffany and Company Foundation gave a $5 million challenge grant.

The return on those investments has been substantial; the first two sections of the High Line have generated more than $2 billion in planned or new development, city officials said. The park has also become a major tourist attraction, drawing a quarter of its visitors from outside the United States.

Gazing at the unfinished segment, Martin Oeggerli, 37, a photographer visiting from Switzerland, said he would like the park to keep going. “It would go straight to the Hudson and give you a great view,” he said.

Last week, when Mr. Diller told Friends of the High Line of the gift over the phone, the conference room erupted. “A large number of people on our staff burst into tears,” Mr. Hammond said.


For additional coverage of the pledge, please click on the link below:

The Whitney to Honor Alex von Furstenberg

Monday, April 26th, 2010


Alex von Furstenberg accepts the 2010 American Art Award

Alex von Furstenberg accepts the 2010 American Art Award

The Whitney Museum will pay tribute Alex von Furstenberg and The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation for their “sustained commitment to the artistic and cultural heritage of the arts in America” at the Museum’s 19th annual gala dinner on May 6th.

The gala signifies the inaugural event at The Whitney’s future downtown site at Gansevoort and Washington Streets in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.  Alex von Furstenberg will be presented with the American Art Award, which will be accompanied by the unveiling of a large-scale collaborative commission from American artists Wade Guyton and Kelley Walker.  The first of three installations in an exhibition collectively titled “Whitney on Site: New Commissions Downtown,” Guyton/Kelley’s work can be viewed publically from the High Line from May 8th through June 23rd; subsequent six-week installations by Tauba Auerbach and Barbara Kruger will follow.


For more coverage of the May 6th event, please click on the links below: