Community School of the Arts receives Mabee grant; fundraising reaches $7.5 million

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 649 views 

The Community School of the Arts (CSA) received a $750,000 grant from the Mabee Foundation to support its Inspiring Excellence campaign to build a new Center for the Creative Arts in Fort Smith.

The announcement by the Midland, Texas-based Mabee Foundation came in early January 2022 after CSA raised $3.7 million in 2021 as part of the Challenge grant issued by the Foundation, said Dr. Rosilee Walker Russell, CSA founder and executive director. Russell said so far the campaign has raised $7.5 million.

“This is a tremendous time in the life of CSA. We are so grateful and blessed to have received the Mabee grant and thankful to friends and supporters in this community for helping us reach this goal. As we move forward, we hope many more will join us on this journey to help us complete our fundraising as we build a facility for many future generations,” Russell said.

The Community School of the Arts broke ground March 17, 2021, on a new facility near the U.S. Marshals Museum on Riverfront Drive in Fort Smith. The land for the new school, 11 acres north of the museum, was donated to the school by the Robbie Westphal family.

Construction of the building will begin this month with completion scheduled for summer 2023, Russell said. She said they still need to raise about $5 million for completion of the project.

“This is indeed a milestone for Community School of the Arts as they have reached their initial capital fundraising goal of $7.5 million. The check from Mabee will be received this spring once the foundation is completed for the new Center. This achievement is amazing particularly considering the difficulties posed by the on-going pandemic,” a news release said.

The Center will house arts programs for young children through high school students as well as adults. The after-school Community Arts Connection programs will offer classes and lessons for up to 500 children and youth daily, the news release said. In addition to the afterschool programs, the Center will be home to the Institute for the Creative Arts which offers specialized programs for high school students in grades 9-12. The Institute will operate daily as students attend from regional school districts and will receive high school credits at their participating school.

The new 40,000-square-foot building will include high-tech classrooms, teaching studios, art galleries, recording studio, film and digital animation labs, dance studios, culinary labs, black box theater and a state-of-the-art 350 seat theater and performance hall.

“The Mabee Foundation is proud to support the Community School of the Arts and its mission to integrate arts education with leadership training for kids who often have no access to either.  We expect this new facility to expand CSA’s influence throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma for many years to come,” said Michael Goeke, Mabee Foundation executive director.

Since its creation in 1948 by John and Lottie Mabee, the Mabee Foundation has grown to a value of over $1 billion and has made grants totaling over $1.2 billion.