The Kennedy Center yesterday announced receipt of a General Motors pledge of $1 million to its new National Performing Arts Fund, bringing total pledges in the fund drive to nearly $11 million.

Kennedy Center Chairman Roger L. Stevens called GM's pledge a "pace-setter contribution," adding that the gift "helps us launch our $42 million national fund-raising campaign to make secure the center's long-range financial future."

Of the $42 million -- which the center hopes to raise over the next three years -- $27 million will be used to establish a permanent endowment and $15 million will provide an operating reserve to support programming while the endowment is growing.

The new endowment will be officially announced at a later date, when the chairman of the campaign also will be named.

GM's pledge is "the largest single corporate contribution so far," according to Kennedy Center communications director Laura Longley.

Included in the $11 million are pledges from corporations, individuals and foundations, as well as a recently announced $1 million challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that must be matched 3 to 1 over the next three years.

"We hope that our gift encourages other corporations to generously support the center's campaign," said GM Chairman Roger B. Smith, calling on business and industry to help enhance the quality of American life through their support of the arts.

In thanking GM for its pledge, Stevens said, "From the time more than 20 years ago when the trustees first came to America's corporations to raise money needed to build the national cultural center, General Motors has been a great friend and supporter.

"In the years since then," Stevens continued, "GM has continued its support by giving generously each year to our Corporate Fund, and also by sponsoring the Kennedy Center Honors broadcast on CBS for the last three years."

The campaign is the Kennedy Center's first major fund-raising drive since the campaign to raise money for its construction in the 1960s.