By Aziza Jackson
CONWAY, Ark. — The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) recently announced that it has received $20 million, the largest gift in its 111-year history, from Windgate Foundation. The matching gift will support the new, state-of-the-art Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts and make UCA a regional leader of the arts.
Plans for the 114,000-square-foot Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts include 44,000 square feet of art space, an exterior space for three-dimensional art, an art gallery to engage and inspire the Conway community, a 450-seat concert hall designed for orchestra, choir, band and ensemble performances, and a proscenium theatre that will allow for a wide range of theatrical performances, including musical theater and opera. The facility will also add much-needed class, studio, rehearsal and design space, which will increase program capacity and allow more students to pursue fine or performing arts degrees. It will also foster interdisciplinary collaboration between the visual arts, theatre and music.
“The Department of Art was one of the original eight departments when UCA was established in 1907, and it remains a high priority for us as we look to the future,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “Today, more than 250 students major or minor in art, and another 750 major in the other fine arts and communication areas. Student enrollment for all departments has remained at capacity for the past decade. This gift will allow us to fulfill the facilities and scholarship needs that are worthy of our outstanding faculty and students. We will be able to help more students earn degrees in art and related disciplines, while also graduating a workforce of creative problem solvers, critical thinkers, and independent learners. We thank Windgate Foundation for their partnership and incredible show of confidence in UCA’s vision for the arts.”
A total of $19 million of the gift will be used for the new construction. The remainder of the project will be funded through additional private gifts and other resources, for a total estimated cost of $45 million. The remaining $1 million from Windgate will be added to the current Windgate Scholarship Fund, which was established within the UCA Foundation in 2005.
“Windgate Foundation has supported visual arts, contemporary craft and art education programs in the United States for 25 years,” said Patricia Forgy, executive director of Windgate Foundation. “For almost 20 years, we have proudly partnered with UCA and are delighted to continue our support for their new Fine and Performing Arts Center. The faculty and administration are supportive and enthusiastic, and we know this improved facility will be a great benefit for the students.”
The Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts will be situated at the corner of Donaghey and Bruce Streets and will serve as a cornerstone of the campus that encourages participation in the arts and provides a unique experience for students, faculty and visitors.
“This new project is much more than a building,” said Davis. “It is a necessary and pivotal step in our ongoing efforts to transform lives and make an impact in Arkansas and beyond.”
Little Rock-based Windgate Foundation is a private grant-making foundation established by an Arkansas family in 1993. Its principal goals include funding significant educational programs in contemporary craft and visual arts, and in art history preservation efforts, as well as providing funding to K-12 and higher educational institutions to develop and support the arts, scholarships and effective instructional programs. Windgate Foundation has provided over $751 million in grants to date.
The University of Central Arkansas aspires to be a premier learner-focused public comprehensive university, a nationally recognized leader for its continuous record of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, scholarly and creative endeavors, and engagement with local, national, and global communities. Founded in 1907, UCA has six academic colleges, Schedler Honors College, the graduate school and more than 150 programs.
The UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication includes the departments of Art, Music, and Film, Theatre and Creative Writing, as well as the School of Communication. The college’s primary mission is the preparation of the next generation of artists, educators and communicators.