Mission & History

Our Mission

Howard Gilman believed in the power of the arts to transform lives. The Howard Gilman Foundation honors his legacy by supporting the most robust, innovative, and promising performing arts organizations in New York City.

Our History

Howard Gilman was the third generation of his family to run the Gilman Paper Company, the largest privately owned paper and building products company in the country. Howard’s interests, however, went well beyond those of paper. In 1981, he created the Howard Gilman Foundation to support the medical, social, educational, environmental, and artistic causes that he held most dear.

Howard’s impact on the arts, in particular, was stunning. From helping to fund the very first Next Wave Festival at BAM, to turning part of his Florida estate into studio space for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris, to supporting museums like MOMA and the Met, Howard embodied his belief that artists must be nurtured and their work must be made available and accessible for all.

Upon Howard’s passing in 1998, his legacy was entrusted to the Foundation, and his work was given a future. In 2014, under the guidance of new executive leadership and a dedicated Board of Trustees, the Foundation renewed its pledge to Mr. Gilman’s legendary vision. Today, the Foundation honors Mr. Gilman’s memory by supporting three of his most beloved disciplines—dance, music, and theatre—and dedicates its efforts to organizations that are based in his birthplace and hometown: New York City.