FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Thanks to an additional $30 million partial challenge grant from the Windgate Foundation, the U of A will soon be able to further expand its Windgate Art and Design District to create more community space and bring together art, design and education in Northwest Arkansas.
Located in the heart of south Fayetteville, the Windgate Art and Design District is already well on its way to becoming a central hub for student and faculty artists and designers at the U of A and beyond.
This latest investment and expansion of the district builds on the previous $40 million transformational gift the foundation gave the U of A to create the Windgate Art and Design District in 2017, which also established the site for the district’s Windgate Studio and Design Center facility. The center will open to the public in fall 2022 and is Phase I of the overall Windgate Art and Design District project.
The new $30 million partial challenge grant is designated for Phase II of the district project and consists of $30 million provided by the Windgate Foundation that will be available when the U of A 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 the U of A’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.”
Shields added that as a land-grant institution, it is imperative for the U of A to serve the community through 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 said. “The Windgate Foundation’s long-standing relationship with the U of A is making sure this vision will become our reality.”
Patricia M. Forgy, executive director of the Windgate Foundation, said she and the foundation’s board members are happy to continue to be part of the school and district’s growth.
“We are proud to join the University of Arkansas School of Art in its next steps for expanding the Windgate Art and Design District,” Forgy said. “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 Windgate Foundation has a long history of supporting art not only in Arkansas, but in academia and the art community across the nation. At the U of A alone, the foundation has previously provided crucial funding that enabled faculty to expand curricula, improve teaching techniques, fund opportunities for student travel, enhance technologies, procure new equipment and build the school’s sculpture facility.
Along with a $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, the Windgate Foundation’s remarkable ongoing support also helped the former Department of Art to grow, ultimately becoming the School of Art in August 2017.
While visual art education has been a part of the U of A’s curriculum since its founding 150 years ago, the School of Art became and remains the first and only accredited, collegiate school of art in the state of Arkansas.
Since its creation less than five years ago, the School of Art has already seen significant growth in all areas – increasing from 300 to 500 students on average, from 36 to 55 full-time faculty members and being able to offer an unprecedented 415 scholarships amounting to 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.”
Because of the Windgate Foundation’s further investment in the School of Art, two designated areas – the Windgate Art and Design District and the Fine Arts Center Building on the U of A’s campus – will be that home to the school and its community.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the Windgate Foundation for making this possible, and we’re so excited for the future of the school and all whose lives it will impact,” she said.
Marty Maxwell Lane, director of the School of Art, echoed Hulen’s sentiments.
“Ideas that might not be possible elsewhere are possible here,” she added. “School of Art leaders and extraordinary faculty recognize this rarity and treasure the opportunity to come together. The vibrant energy of a community uniting will catapult creativity and engagement.”
Gerry Snyder, executive director of the School of Art, said that when Phase I of the Windgate Studio and Design Center opens in fall 2022, it will anchor the district and house the studio art program areas in ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and their M.F.A. and B.F.A. studios, as well as the graphic design program and their new graduate M.DES. degree. In addition, the building will feature a Design Clinic that will collaborate with community partners, a print lab and a coffee bar to serve the students, faculty and community.
Snyder added that this new 58,000-square-foot Windgate Gallery and Foundations Building will complete the Windgate Art and Design District and 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. This Phase II building will be situated adjacent to the new Windgate Studio and Design Center and Sculpture facility, providing the students with state-of-the-art facilities in a central location.
“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.”
Additionally, the Fine Arts Center Building, originally completed in 1951 and designed by Edward Durrell Stone, is also being restored and will be home to both the art history and art education programs, allowing each discipline to expand by adding master’s and Ph.D. options. The Fine Arts Center is situated near the center of campus and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Charles Robinson, interim chancellor, said these new facilities and enhancements will also allow the U of A’s School of Art and its Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design to work more closely together, 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 partnerships 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.”
For more information about the Windgate Art and Design District or the School of Art, please visit art.uark.edu.
To participate in the partial challenge grant, please contact Melody Kouchehbagh at [email protected]
About Windgate Foundation: Windgate Foundation is a private grant-making foundation established by an Arkansas family in 1993. One of its principal goals is to fund significant educational programs in the visual arts, as well as to provide funding to K-12 and higher educational institutions to develop and support the arts, scholarships and effective instructional programs.
About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.