LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra announced Tuesday it has received the largest individual gift in the history of the organization, a $1.8 million donation to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Foundation from the estate of the late Linda Garner Riggs.
The transformational gift to the Foundation’s endowment will serve as a permanent reminder of Mrs. Riggs’ commitment to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and it will enhance the ASO’s positive impact on the region and on music education throughout the state. Mrs. Riggs’ generosity will help to strengthen the ASO and ensure its place in Arkansas’s cultural fabric for generations.
“We are overwhelmingly thankful for this gift from a longtime benefactor and friend,” said Christina Littlejohn, CEO of ASO. “Linda loved the Symphony. She was intelligent, kind and special to me and to all of us who recognize the importance of arts and cultural institutions like ours. Through Linda’s generosity, we can position ourselves for the future with a strong, sustainable endowment fund that further solidifies ASO as one of our state’s cultural cornerstones. Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will all benefit from this gift.”
Mrs. Riggs had served as chairwoman of the ASO Foundation Board of Directors. She is a former Arkansas Insurance Commissioner, and she also worked as legislative and budget director for Gov. Frank White, and as director of the research and committee staff for the Arkansas Legislature. She was retired from Stephens Inc., where she worked for 25 years in corporate finance and was a managing director of the company’s investment banking firm.
When asked about this gift, her husband Dr. Lamar Riggs said, “Linda loved the sound of the orchestra and recognized the ability of its members and leadership. Her gift commemorates her memory and its melody.”
Earnings from the ASO endowment are restricted for use to support the annual operations of the Symphony. Thus, the gift will permit ASO to expand its educational program and continue to attract outstanding professional musicians to the Natural State. Mrs. Riggs’ generous donation will help to safeguard the legacy of the ASO and its mission to connect, enrich, inspire and advance Arkansas through the power of music.
“Throughout its history, the ASO has made our state a better place, enriching our lives through music,” said ASO Chair Jan Hundley. “Linda had the vision to know her donation and others like it will secure the future of live music, music education and service to Arkansas for generations to come. These kinds of sustainable gifts provide us with the confidence in knowing there will continue to be a worthwhile and valuable cultural presence in our state in the future.”
The Riggs gift will endow the Principal Cello Chair at the ASO and it will be permanently named for Linda Garner Riggs.