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Windgate Awards Another $30M for UA Art District

3 min read

The Windgate Foundation has awarded another $30 million grant to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville for the second phase of its planned Windgate Art and Design District.

The grant is a partial challenge grant, meaning the university will have to raise at least $7 million in matching funds to receive the $30 million from the foundation. The UA’s goal is to raise more than $15 million.

Wednesday’s announcement is the latest in a series of multimillion-dollar Windgate contributions to higher education institutions, a series that includes $40 million gifted to the UA in 2017 for the first phase of its arts district. That first phase is the Windgate Studio & Design Center set to open in fall 2022. 

The second phase of the district is a 58,000-SF Windgate Gallery and Foundations Building that will house the school’s public galleries, the foundation program, Idea Fabrication Lab, Arts & Entrepreneurship Workshop, a 250-seat auditorium and faculty and visiting artist studios. The building will be adjacent to the Windgate Studio and Design Center and a sculpture facility.

The Windgate Foundation has helped fund construction of other arts buildings across the state. The largest of those gifts are $20.3 million to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for its arts center that opened in 2018; $20 million to the University of Central Arkansas for a $45 million arts center set to open in 2022; $15.5 million to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith for an arts building that opened in 2015; and $6.7 million for the Center for Three-Dimensional Arts at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, which opened this month. A grand opening ceremony for the A-State building is set for next month.

Todd Shields, dean of the UA Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, which contains the art school, said the latest $30 million grant marks an “outstanding investment in the arts in Arkansas.”

“Their continued support has been nothing short of amazing, and it is thanks to folks like them, and our incredible partners across the community, that our state is well on its way to becoming a global leader in the arts,” Shields said.

Patricia Forgy, executive director of the Windgate Foundation, said it’s an exciting time for the art school. 

“The school’s open communications, collaboration, leadership, community engagement and commitment to art education are at the foundation of our ongoing connection and support,” she said. 

University administrators cited growth at its School of Art as the catalyst for this expansion.

The school, established in 2017 with a $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, has seen its enrollment increase to 500 from 300 and its full-time faculty increase to 55 from 36. It has also offered 415 scholarships totaling more than $990,000. 

“Because of such tremendous growth, the School of Art has been spread across 12 different locations on and around the U of A campus and Fayetteville community,” Jeannie Hulen, the Fulbright College’s associate dean, said in a news release. “Ultimately, to give our students the best, most collaborative and effective education, the School of Art needs to have all its programs, studios, labs, faculty spaces and student areas gathered as closely together as possible and closer to the community.” 

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