MASTERPIECE, the public television drama series that had millions of viewers glued to their seats watching Downton Abbey, has received a $1 milliongift from a generous supporter.

Darlene Shiley of San Diego, a well-known philanthropist and longtime donor to her local station, KPBS, made the $1 million contribution – the largest gift to date to The MASTERPIECE Trust, a fundraising initiative and partnership between PBS stations that encourages individuals to contribute to the series’ future. Half of Mrs. Shiley’s gift, which is made on behalf of her and her late husband Donald, will go to support KPBS, San Diego.

“Darlene’s gift is an absolute affirmation of the purpose of The MASTERPIECE Trust—to give loyal viewers a way to show their support for our program, while keeping their local public television stations healthy,” saysRebecca Eaton, executive producer of MASTERPIECE, which is produced by WGBH Boston. “She has a true understanding of the value of public broadcasting and we’re incredibly grateful for her gift.”

“My late husband and I have been supporters of KPBS for over 20 years,” says Mrs. Shiley. “Knowing that our contribution helps MASTERPIECE and the local station is the best example of collaboration I  know. That others are joining in the effort gives me hope that appreciation of the arts and culture will remain strong in our society.”

This is the second gift to The MASTERPIECE Trust from Shiley, who was among the first donors to give to the Trust after it was created in early 2011. Her first gift was for $250,000.

“Darlene Shiley is a true trailblazer taking bold steps to insure that MASTERPIECE, one of PBS’s most beloved series, can continue,” said KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo. “This is a great example of the power of collaboration through our media partnership with WGBH that can be shared both locally and nationally. I am thrilled with this agreement, which will result in more MASTERPIECE programming in the years to come and more wonderful programming for our community.”

Launched in 2011 to honor MASTERPIECE’s 40th anniversary, The MASTERPIECE Trust has already raised more than $2.5 million.

Other PBS stations that have partnered with WGBH Boston on The MASTERPIECE Trust include WNET/New York, VPT/Vermont Public Television, WTCI/Chattanooga, WGBY/Springfield, MA, and WTTW/Chicago. WGBH President and CEO Jonathan Abbott says, “We’re delighted to be able to work with PBS station partners across the country to encourage local philanthropists to support one of their favorite series, while helping those stations strengthen their ties with major supporters in the communities they serve.”

Over the course of the season, more than 17 million viewers watched the MASTERPIECE broadcast ofDownton Abbey Season 2, making it the most-watched MASTERPIECE series on record. Upcoming MASTERPIECE programs include a new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations starring Gillian Anderson (April 1 and 8) and a second season of the hit series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatchand Martin Freeman (May 6-20).

Donors interested in contributing to The MASTERPIECE Trust should contact Ellen Frank, Director of Major Gifts at WGBH (617-300-3809,


About Masterpiece

MASTERPIECE on PBS is presented by WGBH Boston. Rebecca Eaton is executive producer. Funding for MASTERPIECE is provided by Viking River Cruises, with additional support from public television viewers and contributors to The MASTERPIECE Trust, created to help ensure the series’ future. Visit for more information about the series.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including MasterpieceAntiques RoadshowFrontlineNovaAmerican ExperienceArthurCurious George, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH also is a leader in educational multimedia, including PBS LearningMedia, and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards…even two Oscars. Find more information at

About KPBS

KPBS is a public service of San Diego State University, serving the region with TV, Radio, and Internet content that educates, inspires, entertains, and advances civic involvement.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.


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