Windgate Foundation to give $30 million for second phase of University of Arkansas art district

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 999 views 

Construction continues on the Windgate Studio and Design Center in south Fayetteville. The Windgate Foundation will provide an additional $30 million to support the further expansion of the University of Arkansas' Windgate Art and Design District.)

The University of Arkansas announced Wednesday (Aug. 25) a $30 million partial challenge grant from the Windgate Foundation to further expand the Windgate Art and Design District, a home for the UA’s School of Art. The money will be for the district’s second phase that will include the 58,000-square-foot Windgate Gallery and Foundations Building.

In 2017, the Windgate Foundation gave $40 million to the UA to create the Windgate Art and Design District in south Fayetteville. The district will include the Windgate Studio and Design Center, which is expected to open in fall 2022. The first phase of the overall Windgate Art and Design District project is under construction.

“We are proud to join the University of Arkansas School of Art in its next steps for expanding the Windgate Art and Design District,” said Patricia Forgy, executive director of the Windgate Foundation. “In this exciting moment, we are coming full circle in the partnership with the School of Art. The school’s open communications, collaboration, leadership, community engagement and commitment to art education are at the foundation of our ongoing connection and support. It’s an exciting time to be an art student at the U of A.”

The new $30 million partial challenge grant will be available when the UA raises a minimum of $7 million in matching funds. The university’s goal is to raise more than $15 million in qualified gifts and pledges.

“This is a truly outstanding investment in the arts in Arkansas, and we are so honored and grateful that the Windgate Foundation has created such a wonderful space for our community and school,” said Todd Shields, dean of UA’s Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, which houses the School of Art. “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.

“We must ensure that our graduates will be creative thinkers, leaders and problem solvers who will be an innovative and driving force in our state economy through their art and design,” he added. “The Windgate Foundation’s long-standing relationship with the U of A is making sure this vision will become our reality.”

Gerry Snyder, executive director of the School of Art, said the first phase of the center will anchor the district and house the studio art program areas in ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and the Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts studios along with the graphic design program and the new Master of Design degree. Also, the building will include a design clinic that will collaborate with community partners, a print lab and a coffee bar for students, faculty and the community.

The Windgate Gallery and Foundations Building is part of the second phase of the district and will complete it, Snyder said. The building 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. It will be located adjacent to the new Windgate Studio and Design Center and Sculpture facility.

“The generosity of the Windgate Foundation is deeply appreciated throughout our school, campus and community,” Snyder said. “The center and this future expansion are milestone achievements that position the School of Art as a leader in arts education and a destination for excellence.”

In August 2017, the School of Art was established as the first and only accredited, collegiate school of art in Arkansas. The Windgate Foundation’s support along with a $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation helped the former Department of Art grow to become the School of Art. In less than five years, the School of Art has grown from 300 to 500 students on average, from 36 to 55 full-time faculty and to offer  415 scholarships, comprising 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,” said Jeannie Hulen, Fulbright College’s associate dean. “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.”

The new gift will allow the School of Art’s home to be in two areas: The Windgate Art and Design District and the Fine Arts Center Building.

The Fine Arts Center Building, originally completed in 1951 and designed by Edward Durrell Stone, is being restored and will be home to the art history and art education programs, allowing each discipline to expand by adding master’s degree and doctorate programs. The Fine Arts Center is near the center of campus and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Charles Robinson, interim chancellor, said the new facilities and enhancements will allow the School of Art and Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design to better collaborate as the Fay Jones School is also partially located within the Windgate Art and Design District.

“This will bring about a whole new level of collaboration, interdisciplinary work and innovation for the U of A and our surrounding community,” Robinson said. “These facilities will work as a catalyst for partnership with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and other organizations to grow and empower the art and design community at all levels. It will have a resounding positive impact on our university, our community, our state and beyond.”