Sycuan Presents $1.1M to the San Diego Symphony

June 28, 2022

The Future is HEAR campaign gift marks the single largest cash donation ever given to the arts and culture sector by a sovereign tribal nation in Southern California

Today, the San Diego Symphony announces that the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and Sycuan Casino Resort has made a $1.1 million donation – the single largest cash gift ever given to the Arts and Culture sector by a sovereign tribal nation in Southern California. The historic gift is given to the Symphony’s The Future is HEAR campaign and operational support of the Symphony’s many wide-ranging artistic and community programs. Sycuan’s gift brings The Future is HEAR campaign total raised to date to $123.5 million of its $125 million campaign goal.  In recognition of this gift, the Symphony will establish the Sycuan Community Plaza at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. The unveiling of this newly named space at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park will occur prior to the 2022 Conrad Prebys Opening Night Concert on June 24, 2022.

“We are honored to present this donation to the San Diego Symphony in support of their many local artistic community programs,” said Cody Martinez, Chairman, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. “Through the Kumeyaay spirit of giving, it is very important for us to invest in all aspects of our community, especially arts and culture. We are very proud of our longstanding partnership with the Symphony and look forward to being a part of the different musical events and experiences that they continue to bring to life for the San Diego community.”

The Future is HEAR campaign supports San Diego Symphony’s wide-ranging artistic and community programs, including construction of an extraordinary state-of-the art, year-round outdoor waterfront venue and Public Park along the Embarcadero. The campaign also encompasses improvement of the infrastructure of Copley Symphony Hall at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center, engagement of all of San Diego’s diverse communities with transformative musical experiences, and ensuring the future of the Symphony.

As part of this gift, Sycuan is also the lead sponsor of the Symphony’s Music Connects program. This long-standing program provides broad access to musical experiences for the entire San Diego region including free neighborhood concerts and free performances in hospitals, senior residences and other community centers.

“We are honored to have this extraordinary gift from Sycuan to support The Future is HEAR campaign and our community programming,” said San Diego Symphony CEO Martha A. Gilmer “From their early generosity towards our former ‘Bayside Summer Nights’ outdoor concert series to the newest partnership that will benefit our community programs, they have always been a vital partner for this orchestra. Together we are building greater access to cultural experiences in our region. ”

The Sycuan partnership will include benefits for each organization’s community at large – with discounted symphony tickets made available to Sycuan employees and tribal members, and discount packages for casino amenities made available to the Symphony’s constituents. Also, hospitality amenities at the Rady Shell will be available to Sycuan to host its clients at concerts, and musicians will have opportunities to perform at the Sycuan Casino Resort, deepening the Symphony’s connections in the El Cajon neighborhood.

Historically, Sycuan’s partnership with the San Diego Symphony goes back two decades and includes nearly $2 million in donations. Some of the earliest major gifts were given in support of SUMMER POPS, the Symphony’s initiative that started with the annual construction of a temporary stage at Embarcadero Marina Park South and evolved to the present permanent state-of-the-art Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. This gift will mark the largest single gift by a Tribal entity in Southern California’s history to an Arts and Culture institution.


The centerpiece of the 3.7-acre public Jacobs Park developed and managed by the San Diego Symphony on the city’s scenic Embarcadero, The Rady Shell is the first permanent outdoor venue in the San Diego Symphony’s century-long history, designed to host more than 100 concerts and events year-round. The venue has been developed in partnership with the Unified Port of San Diego with 96% of the $85 million cost raised privately by the Symphony.

As innovative in design as it is spectacular in setting, offering 360 degrees of year-round music, sky and sea, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is an unprecedented resource for the Symphony’s expanded schedule of diverse outdoor concerts, including classical concerts and an exciting roster of commissioned works and premieres programmed by San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare as well as performances by international touring artists and free programs.  The venue will be available year-round for non-profit community groups, schools and individuals. Jacobs Park, owned and managed by the Symphony, surrounds the performance space with walkways, dining pavilions and recreational facilities in the heart of the Embarcadero and is accessible to the public for free on most days of the year. For more information, visit www.theshell.org


 Founded in 1910, the San Diego Symphony is the oldest orchestra in California and one of the largest and most significant cultural organizations in San Diego. The Orchestra performs for more than 250,000 people each season, offering a wide variety of programming at its two much-loved venues, Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego (now under renovation) and The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on San Diego Bay. In early 2018, the San Diego Symphony announced the appointment of Rafael Payare as music director. Payare leads the orchestra’s 82 full-time musicians, graduates of the finest and most celebrated music schools in the United States and abroad. The San Diego Symphony also serves as the orchestra for the San Diego Opera each season, as well as performing at several regional performing arts and community centers. For more than 30 years, the San Diego Symphony has provided comprehensive learning and community engagement programs reaching more than 65,000 students annually and bringing innovative programming to San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods and schools. For more information, visit www.sandiegosymphony.org.