At the groundbreaking ceremony of its new Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts, University of Central Arkansas officials announced Friday (Oct. 9) a new $3 million gift for the center from the Alice L. Walton Foundation.
The Windgate Center was primarily funded by a $20 million gift in 2019 from the Windgate Foundation.
Upon completion, the new Windgate facility will provide almost 100,000 square feet of classroom, studio, rehearsal and design spaces. Current plans for the facility include a 175-seat black box theater equipped with state-of-the art technology; a 450-seat concert hall; a percussion suite; a scene/wood shop; and more.
The building will allow UCA to expand its arts programming and foster collaborative partnerships across multiple academic disciplines — visual arts, film, theatre, and music.
“In addition to providing a first-rate facility for our students and faculty, this building will solidify UCA as an artistic anchor in the region, a place where the arts are celebrated and accessible to all,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “By helping more students interact with and earn degrees in artistic disciplines, we will continue to graduate a workforce of creative problem solvers, critical thinkers, and independent learners. In today’s world, these skills are more important than ever and are vital to the state’s economy.”
The $20 million gift for the center from the Windgate Foundation announced in January 2019 remains the largest single gift in university history. The $3 million Alice L. Walton Foundation gift is the second largest in school history.
The $3 million gift will provide $1 million toward the construction of the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts, $1 million to establish an endowment for ongoing facility maintenance at the center, and a $1 million endowment contribution to specifically support arts education programming at UCA.
“The Alice L. Walton Foundation is delighted to join the University of Central Arkansas, Windgate Foundation and other project partners in strengthening access to high-quality arts education for students and future leaders,” said a representative of the Alice L. Walton Foundation. “These expanded and modernized facilities in the heart of Central Arkansas will foster exploration and expression essential to preserving our dynamic and vibrant arts and culture community.”
“Gifts such as these from the Windgate Foundation and the Alice L. Walton Foundation illustrate the transformative impact of purposeful giving on our students, our community, and our state,” said Davis. “We are incredibly grateful for these partnerships and the difference they will allow us to make today and for generations to come.”
UCA’s Department of Art and Design has more than 200 students who major or minor in art, and another 780 who major in other fine arts and communication areas. Student enrollment for many departments has remained at capacity for the past decade.
The Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts is scheduled to open for the fall 2022 semester.