Jan 19, 2011, 11:00 ET from MASTERPIECE/WGBH Boston

New 40th Anniversary Funding Initiative Invites Viewers To Help Secure the Future of MASTERPIECE

BOSTON, Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fans of the iconic drama series MASTERPIECE on PBS can now support their favorite program and their local PBS station by donating to The MASTERPIECE Trust, an innovative funding initiative established in honor of MASTERPIECE's 40th anniversary in 2011.

"Every day we hear from viewers who tell us that watching MASTERPIECE is a cherished Sunday night ritual," says executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "The MASTERPIECE Trust gives viewers who are passionate about the series an opportunity to ensure its future and to provide crucial funding to their local PBS stations."

More than $200,000 has already been raised for The MASTERPIECE Trust, the goal of which is to have 40 participants—one for each of the series' 40 years— donate $25,000 or more during the series' 40th anniversary season. In return, supporters receive on-screen recognition on at least three new MASTERPIECE programs, and a significant portion of their donation goes directly to their local PBS station.

The Trust is designed to be a partnership with PBS stations. At KPBS/San Diego, General Manager Tom Karlo said, "We welcome the opportunity The MASTERPIECE Trust affords us to connect with select major philanthropists in our community who aspire to support our programs and engage with a series at the national level. The Trust is an innovative way to support this iconic series as well as help local stations strengthen their ties with major donors."

"The MASTERPIECE Trust represents a promising fund-raising model," says PBS president Paula Kerger. "In a time when PBS stations are trying to identify new sources of financial support, reaching out to philanthropists and families who feel a strong connection to a series like MASTERPIECE makes a lot of sense."

MASTERPIECE, the longest-running primetime drama series on television, is also one of the most honored, with 51 Primetime Emmys, 17 Peabody Awards, 31 British BAFTAs and two Academy Award nominations. Since its premiere on PBS on January 10, 1971, MASTERPIECE has aired more than 2,000 hours of programming, including I, Claudius, Prime Suspect, Inspector Morse, The Forsyte Saga, Cranford, Bleak House, Foyle's War, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, The Complete Jane Austen, Sherlock and the current hit Downton Abbey. A highlight of MASTERPIECE's 40th anniversary season is a new Upstairs Downstairs, airing in April 2011.

Donors interested in contributing to The MASTERPIECE Trust should contact

Ellen Frank, Director of MASTERPIECE Trust Gifts at WGBH


Press contact

Ellen Dockser, WGBH Boston