Peter F. Donnelly

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Peter F. Donnelly (October 6, 1938 – March 28, 2009) was an American patron of the arts. He was a former Vice-Chairman of Americans for the Arts, a co-founder of the Seattle Arts Commission and a pivotal figure in the Seattle artistic community for more than 45 years.[1]

Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, Donnelly graduated from Boston University and moved to Seattle in 1964 as a Ford Foundation management fellow to work with the fledgling Seattle Repertory Theatre as the first managing director and later as producing director,[2] during his 21-year tenure.[3]

In 1986, Donnelly left Seattle to take the position of the producing director of the Dallas Theater Center,[4] returning to Seattle in 1989 to at the request of local business leaders to head the Seattle Corporate Council for the Arts,[5] which later became ArtsFund, where he served as President and CEO until retiring in 2005.[6] In honor of his retirement, the ArtsFund created the Peter F. Donnelly Merit Fund for Arts Endowments.[7]

Donnelly is credited with being instrumental in the building of the Seattle Repertory Theatre's Bagley Wright Theater and the development of the Building for the Arts program, a primary funding source for Seattle's Benaroya Hall, Intiman Theater, Seattle Children's Theatre, as well as 150 other arts facilities.[8] In 2001 the Seattle Public Library honored Donnelly by naming one of their five major collections as The Peter F. Donnelly Art and Literature Collection.[9] Donnelly also served on the Board of Directors for the Frye Art Museum, the 5th Avenue Theatre, the University of Washington School of Drama Advisory Committee and Classic KING-FM Radio Station.


Donnelly died on March 28, 2009, a week after being diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer[10] and is survived by his partner, David Farrar, of Seattle as well as two sisters.[11]


National Coalition of United Arts Fund's Michael Newton Award – 1995 [12]

Seattle Mayor's Arts Award – 2005 [13]