ArtsBeat

Three Boise arts groups get a big boost from Esther Simplot

Esther Simplot, left, with Boise Mayor Dave Bieter at the 2013 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts and History where Simplot received a lifetime achievement award for her support of the arts in Boise.
Esther Simplot, left, with Boise Mayor Dave Bieter at the 2013 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts and History where Simplot received a lifetime achievement award for her support of the arts in Boise. Idaho Statesman file

Longtime Boise arts patroness Esther Simplot, widow of Idaho agriculture magnate J.R. Simplot, is continuing her support of Boise’s arts organizations through the establishment of a $3 million endowment.

The Pauline Becker and Dorothy Simplot Memorial Endowment Fund will directly benefit Ballet Idaho, Boise Philharmonic and Opera Idaho. The fund is named for Simplot’s and J.R.’ mothers.

Simplot has a long history with each of these organizations, and this legacy gift will continue her support of these groups well into the future.

Simplot set up the fund through the Idaho Community Foundation. The Boise-based nonprofit offers broad support for charitable organizations from arts, social good and education causes and will administer the grants.

The fund will provide between $40,000 to $45,000 annually for each of the three organizations in perpetuity, says ICF spokeswoman Jennifer Oxley.

The money can be used however each group sees fit, from supporting a specific production to covering general operating costs.

The Becker Simplot Fund is Simplot’s second ICF endowment. She and J.R. established a $1.1 million endowment in 1992 to support the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy. The building at 9th and Myrtle streets in Boise houses the offices, rehearsal studios and rooms, performance and event spaces and the educational branches of Ballet Idaho, Boise Philharmonic and Opera Idaho.

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