Arkansas Arts Center Interim Director Laine Harber announced today that the Windgate Charitable Foundation had made an “exciting gift” to endow the Arts Center’s two curatorial positions, so we asked John Brown for more information:  Brown, the senior adviser to the foundation, confirmed that the curatorial endowment is part of a $5 million operating endowment granted the Arts Center at the end of 2017.

Harber’s announcement came at the annual meeting of the Arts Center. He was made interim director after former director Todd Herman announced he would be leaving for another job last month.

Advertisement

The Windgate Foundation has made a historic and astonishing number of generous gifts to further the arts across in Arkansas: more than $1 million to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s recovery, $1 million for the Bradbury Museum on the campus of Arkansas State University, $15.5 million to the UA Fort Smith for that campus’ Windgate Center for Art + Design, $20.3 million to UA Little Rock for the Windgate Center for Art + Design, a whopping $40 million gift to the University of Arkansas for the Windgate Art and Design District that will provide new classrooms, studio space and gallery space. Those grants don’t include the numerous six-figure gifts to the Arts Center, the Thea Foundation, UA Pulaski Tech and other arts entities. Windgate has been funding the curatorial positions since 2012.

The foundation has also pledged a $5 million gift toward the capital campaign to renovate and add to the Arts Center, a project that will break ground in fall 2019 and is scheduled for completion in spring 2022. Merritt Dyke, the chairman of the Arkansas Arts Center’s Board of Trustees, said the campaign continues in its silent phase to raise its half of the $70 million construction cost of the new arts center. (Little Rock will provide an estimated $37.5 million through a bond issue paid with hotel tax receipts. There will be fundraising for an endowment, as well.) The capital campaign has been headed up by Warren and Harriet Stephens; Dyke and Terri Erwin will join the effort. Dyke said the Arts Center will turn its attention to hiring a permanent replacement for Herman later in the year.

Advertisement

The Arts Center, which operate with a budget of $6.7 million last year, announced it has ended the fiscal year in the black for eight years running. The Arts Center Foundation, which makes annual gifts to the Arts Center and owns its collection, has an endowment of $34.9 million, the foundation’s board chairman, Bobby Tucker, said.

UPDATE: The Windgate Foundation now has an office in West Little Rock. Patricia Forgy, the executive director, provided more details on the gift: $1.5 million from the operating endowment will go to the curator of contemporary craft position and $1.5 million will go to the curator of drawings position. The remaining $3 million is for funding directed by the board of trustees. In addition, the foundation made a gift of $2 million this year for Museum School construction.

Advertisement