Windgate Foundation awards UA Little Rock more than $3 million for arts, children’s education

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 289 views 

(Photo courtesy of Benjamin Krain) Teachers and educators craft a table during an Artways furniture and wood working program at the UA Little Rock Wingate Center for Art and Design.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock announced Thursday (Sept. 2) it has received more than $3 million in grants from the Windgate Foundation to support art education at the university, acquisition of art from working artists for UA Little Rock’s permanent art collection, and support of UA Little Rock Children International’s education and outreach programs.

“These three grants from the Windgate Foundation will go a long way to support art education and outreach programs in our community,” said Chancellor Christina Drale. “We are thankful to the Windgate Foundation for their continued dedication to artists, art educators, and students across the state.”

Windgate’s first grant will provide $1.56 million for UA Little Rock Children International, which serves approximately 2,100 children and youth in central Arkansas. The first $1.5 million will create an endowed fund to cover operational expenses. Children International will receive $60,000 as a bridge grant to use in the next year.

“We are impressed by the efforts of the hard-working staff of Children International to provide education and outreach activities for children in the Little Rock School District,” said Pat Forgy, executive director of the Windgate Foundation. “I’d encourage others to consider supporting their work to help children become healthy, educated, and self-reliant. There is so much more Children International could accomplish with additional help from the community.”

Now in its 27th year, UA Little Rock Children International offers a variety of school- and community-based programs, including after-school and summer programming, cooking classes, emergency food assistance, and college preparation and career training.

The second grant provides $1 million to create an endowed art acquisition fund. The funding will be divided equally, with $500,000 going to acquire contemporary craft art from living artists and the other $500,000 to acquire art from living artists.

“The Windgate Foundation has been a champion of the gallery program for 10 years,” said Brad Cushman, director of the UA Little Rock Gallery Program. “Their financial support of exhibition programming and acquisitions began in 2011. The Windgate Foundation has granted acquisition funding to major museums and art institutions across the country. They have certainly put the UA Little Rock Gallery Program and Permanent Collection in prestigious company.”

With this grant, UA Little Rock will acquire more art for the university’s permanent art collection, which holds over 1,700 items, and provide a broader range of exhibits for the UA Little Rock Gallery Program.

Additionally, Windgate has awarded UA Little Rock a multi-year additional support grant for the UA Little Rock Art Outreach Program. Windgate originally awarded UA Little Rock a grant of more than $750,000 in November 2018 to establish a series of educational art workshops for Arkansas high school students and art teachers.

The additional $470,713 grant will continue to support art education outreach efforts for high school students and art teachers in Arkansas through December 2024. The final payment for 2023 is contingent upon an increase of students in UA Little Rock’s Art and Design Department.

“We appreciate the opportunity that the Windgate Foundation has given the department,” said Tom Clifton, chair of the Department of Art and Design. “Sharing our expertise with the community of art teachers has been an incredibly fulfilling experience for the department faculty. We’re looking forward to providing more programming and meeting new participants in the future.”

UA Little Rock said it was unable to hold the high school student visits and workshops for K-12 art educators during summer 2020 due to the pandemic. With social distancing procedures in place, the Department of Art and Design continued programming this summer with seven week-long workshops for art educators from across the state.

Faculty members Kevin Cates, Jeremy Couch, Joli Livaudais, and Peter Scheidt taught workshops on drawing, graphic design, painting, photography, and woodworking. Art Outreach Specialist Andrea Tompkins said more than 50 teachers from 33 Arkansas schools attended the workshops and earned 30 hours of professional development credit each.

In summer 2022, UA Little Rock plans to offer two camps for art educators and one camp for highly motivated high school students who are considering majoring in the visual arts. The workshops are free to high school students and art teachers. The Windgate grant will cover on-campus housing, meals, supplies, and instructional materials.