A Veteran Investor and Philanthropist Keeps His Eye on the Arts

Septuagenarian Chuck Royce is considered a pioneer in the high-risk game of small-cap investing. A Brown and Columbia graduate, Royce has been CEO of Royce & Associates since 1972 and serves as the company’s director and portfolio manager. But when he takes his eyes off the stock market listings, he's yet another Wall Street philanthropist who turns his attention to art and culture.

The motivations here partly involve Royce's wife Deborah, a longtime actress and filmmaker on both coasts who once worked as a story editor for Miramax. These days, Deborah is active with the Avon Theater Film Center, a nonprofit in downtown Stamford, Connecticut, that showcases films that include independent and foreign films, Hollywood classics and documentaries. The organization's mission is to present film in its "highest forms: as art, as history, as education, and as a window on the world, as well as in its most compelling formats." 

The Avon opened its doors in 1939 and screened movies until its closure 60 years later, in 1998. The Royces' charity purchased the historic building in 2003 and restored it. The couple continues to support the nonprofit theater via their Royce Family Fund; Deborah recently assumed the role of president of Avon Theater.

But the Connecticut family's support of Avon is just one example of their commitment to regional arts, culture and historic preservation. The Royces also purchased the historic Ocean House, a Victorian hotel in Rhode Island slated for demolition, and restored the structure. 

In a recent fiscal year, the Royce Family Fund gave away around $5.4 million to a long trail of grantees. The family's giving through their charity heavily involves organizations in Connecticut and New York. When we say "New York," though, we don't just mean the city, but also upstate. For instance, Royce beneficiaries include towns in the Catskill region—like Haines Falls, Tannersville, Hunter, and Ashland, New York in Greene County. 

But establishment art organizations are also on Royce's radar. Recent arts and culture grantees of the Royce Family Fund include Friends of the Orpheum, Lincoln Center For Performing Arts, Film Society Of Lincoln Center, New York Philharmonic, Park Avenue Armory, The Met, the Museum Of Modern Art, and the Frick Collection, where Royce is a trustee. The family has strongly supported Haines Falls Free Library, as well as preservation organizations National Trust For Historic Preservation, Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust, and Hunter Foundation, a nonprofit focused on "restoring the historical buildings, cultural offerings and economic health" in the Catskills. 

The arts, however, are only one component of the Royce family's layered giving. They've directed millions to Brown University, and also strongly supported Deborah's alma mater Lake Erie College. Royce is involved with religious organizations, too: Notable family grants include over $1 million to Christ Church Greenwich a few years ago. For a complete overview of this funder's work, read our profile and guide linked below. 

Related: Charles M. Royce 

Related: Royce Family Fund: Grants for the Arts