Tag Archives: Windgate Foundation

Arkansas Rep reports much progress as they continues steps to their Next Stage

Two months since the Arkansas Repertory Theatre announced it would suspend productions due to significant cash flow issues, fiscal year end reports show significant progress being made in efforts to save the state’s largest nonprofit, professional theatre.

“As of June 30, The Rep is now current with all of its trade vendors and has secured operations and current staff through August 14,” said Ruth Shepherd, Rep board chair and interim leadership team member.

Reporting an emergency deficit of $750,000, The Rep Board of Directors decided earlier this year to suspend productions, resulting in the layoff of two-thirds of its administrative and artistic staff, as well as the cancellation of the final show of the theatre’s 2017-2018 season.

Now concentrating on rebounding from the current financial crisis, Rep leadership has pledged to reassess, refocus and revision a theatre which is professional, affordable and sustainable. The board of directors has appointed an interim leadership team consisting of Shepherd, fellow board member Bill Rector and Rep founding artistic director Cliff Baker.

Since “going dark” on April 24, The Rep has received almost 900 gifts totaling more than $422,000 and has secured two challenge grants – one from the John and Robyn Horn Foundation and another from the Windgate Charitable Foundation – valued collectively at $1,025,000.

The theatre has also finalized the sale of Peachtree Apartments, a 16-unit complex used for actor housing that has been among The Rep’s real estate holdings for more than 30 years. Proceeds from the sale will effectively cut The Rep’s property debt “almost in half,” according to Rep interim leadership team member Bill Rector, who negotiated the sale for The Rep with Rick Freeling of RPM Group representing buyers Mark Brown and Jill Judy. The sale closed on June 20.

Shepherd said a steering committee comprised of more than 60 community and business leaders are working with the Rep Board of Directors to develop a plan targeted for presentation in mid-August for the future of the 42-year-old beloved Arkansas cultural institution.

“Continuing campaign goals include creating board-directed funds such as operating and facilities reserve funds and a subscription escrow,” said Shepherd. “Such funds will enable The Rep to operate with a more fiscally sound business model moving forward. At this point, every gift to The Rep is about our future.”

“So, while the news is good, it is not yet great,” said Shepherd. “There is still a lot of hard work to be done, but we are certainly feeling more confident that with the continued support of our audiences and community, we will ultimately come out of this unfortunate situation with a stronger and more resilient theatre.”

Arkansas Repertory Theatre was founded in 1976 with a mission to produce a diverse body of work intended to illuminate the human condition through great storytelling and is the largest non-profit professional theatre company in the state. Having produced more than 350 shows (including 40 world premieres), the 377-seat theatre is located in downtown Little Rock where it serves as the anchor of the city’s Creative Corridor.

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An Update on Plans to #SaveTheRep!

Since the Arkansas Repertory Theatre made the announcement on April 24, 2018, that the theatre were suspending operations, several important steps have been taken.

Overall, they can be summarized by the mantra which is guiding the Rep leadership during this time:  PROFESSIONAL, AFFORDABLE, & SUSTAINABLE.

  • Within just the first few weeks since the news broke, the Rep has received more than 550 gifts totaling almost $220,000.  Every dollar given right now is being matched by the Windgate Charitable Foundation, and monthly and multi-year pledges make it possible to be even more generous with giving.
  • The Rep Board has appointed a volunteer Interim Leadership Team consisting of Rep founder Cliff Baker and Rep board members Bill Rector and Ruth Shepherd.
  • The Rep has formed an “Our Next Act” Steering Committee of board and community leaders who are examining every facet of Rep operations and make recommendations to The Rep Board for action. The aim is to have a plan by mid-August about how to reopen The Rep after this brief intermission.
  • The theatre is in the process of selling the building which was used as actor housing.  That will reduce our property debt by nearly half.  There are many more options for housing actors downtown near the Rep than there were when those apartments were originally acquired.
  • The Rep is planning community listening sessions to get Little Rock’s best thinking and ideas. Check soon on the Rep’s website to learn how you can participate.  (Also, make plans to attend the Clinton School presentation on the future of the Rep featuring Ruth Shepherd on Thursday, June 7 at 12 noon at Sturgis Hall.)
  • The education programs will continue throughout the summer with programming for rising K-12 students. There are still a few slots left, so check the education section of the Rep’s website for class information.

While much progress has been made, the work is far from over.  The Rep still needs support from the public, financial and otherwise.

Repertorium Praeter Theatrum

Little Rock Look Back: May 31, 1968 – a day of transition for the Arkansas Arts Center

AAC Logo in 1963

An arts organization in financial crisis.
Programming abandoned
Summer education programming for students
Staff laid off
A challenge grant from donors
A community fundraising drive

Sound familiar?

In January 1968, the Arkansas Arts Center made the decision to cease operating a degree-granting education program effective May 31 of that year.  Sixteen faculty members lost their jobs, though a couple were retained for other positions within the organization.

After opening in May 1963 and beginning the degree-granting program in September 1964, the Arkansas Arts Center found itself operating at a deficit each year.  While Jeannette and Winthrop Rockefeller made up the deficits, it was not a sustainable model.  (Mrs. Rockefeller had been the president of the AAC board for several years after she and her husband played leadership roles in the statewide fundraising efforts to establish the AAC.)

Though the degree-granting programs were bringing national recognition to the AAC, they had essentially taken over the entire facility.  The theatre was rarely available for children’s programming or community groups. The galleries were given over largely to the displaying the works of the students and faculty.  What had been envisioned as a facility melding world-class arts with community arts, was not functioning that way.

As such, the statewide membership program was suffering. Without the creation of programming in Little Rock, it was difficult to take any substantial arts offerings out to the membership clusters throughout the state. This resulted in the decline of memberships being purchased.

Following the announcement of the cessation of the degree-granting program, the AAC Board sought ways to more fully engage the public.  Part of this was due to the fact that the Arts Center had a deficit of $295,216 (the equivalent of $2.15 million today).  The only profitable part of the AAC operation was the gift shop.  With that level of deficit, the permanent closure of the AAC was certainly a possibility on people’s minds.

A committee studying the future of the AAC decided to focus on five (5) areas.  (And of course, AAC founding mother Jeane Hamilton was part of this effort.)  The areas were Education (community classes for children and adults), Exhibits (a return to a mix of permanent and traveling exhibitions), Theatre (partnerships with Community Theatre of Little Rock and the creation of children and teen theatre productions), State Services (refocusing the Artmobile to include educational instruction), and Membership. This would result in a net budget of $260,000.

In April 1968, a fund drive was announced led by former Little Rock Mayor Byron Morse.  The goal was $130,000, to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Rockefellers.  As of May of that year, it had raised $108,731.

There are many parallels between the AAC in 1968 and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s current predicament. While the causes of the financial woes may be different, the cures are very much the same.

Then, as now, the citizens of Little Rock and Arkansas had to step up and financially support an arts organization in financial crisis.  Whereas the Rockefellers were matching gifts in 1968, the Windgate Foundation is matching gifts now.  Just as the Arts Center renewed its focus on the community and redefined the way it did business, the Rep is now facing these same processes and predicaments.

What the future Rep will look like in terms of numbers and types of productions remains to be seen.  But the core leadership team is touting a mantra of Professional, Affordable, and Sustainable.  All of these are laudable. All are attainable. But all will require continued community commitment year in and year out.

An interesting side note: a key Arts Center Board member in 1968 was William Rector, the father of longtime Rep Board member Bill Rector who is currently part of the interim leadership team at the Rep.  Let’s hope Bill has the same success in his endeavor as his father did.

Viva Center Artium
Repertorium Praeter Theatrum

Repertorium Praeter Theatrum

It was two weeks ago yesterday that the Arkansas Rep announced suspension of operations.  It was a week ago yesterday that the Rally at the Rep was held which raised money and community spirit for the Rep.

Supporters of the Rep have made a good start in donating over $113,000 towards the goal of $750,000.  The John & Robyn Horn and Windgate Charitable Foundations have generously extended matching grants to make donated dollars stretch even further.  It does not mean the money woes are eliminated. It just means there is a clearer pathway to reaching the goal.

Yesterday was the final day of employment at the Rep for many folks.  These are good people.  Some grew up here. Others came here to work.  All became a part of Arkansas in addition to becoming part of the Arkansas Rep.

A few staff members remain.  Even when operations are in suspension, there are still tasks to accomplish.

And excitingly the Rep’s Education Department is continuing its summer programming under the leadership of Anna Kimmell.  From June 18 through August 3, there will be a series of age-based sessions for kids ranging in age from kindergarten up to 2018 high school graduates.

The education programming illustrates a key reason the Rep is important.  Yes, the final two-week program is geared toward high school kids and offers a conservatory-style training. It is a wonderful opportunity for those who think they might be interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts.

But a key aspect of all the sessions is the use of the performing arts as forms of self-expression.  Even if the students never set foot on stage again, they have learned confidence. They have learned arts appreciation. They have learned to respect themselves and others.

This is what theatre does. This is what the arts do.

Last weekend, I was in the Rep’s auditorium for the Ballet Arkansas performance.  After it was over, I unexpectedly found myself lingering in the space.  I then realized why.  I wanted to soak in the atmosphere of the room.  So I went up to the lower balcony and walked around.  I snapped the photos which accompany this entry.

I hope I am back in the space for a performance in the coming months.  But I realized it could be even longer in the future.  So I relished the chance to wander around.  And wonder about the future.

In the coming weeks, key supporters of the Rep will be working out a vision for the future of the institution.  Many tough discussions will be had. Many difficult decisions will be made. What will the future look like? Only St. Genesius probably knows. And as the patron saint of actors and comedians, he is not yet telling.

It is said (though it is likely apocryphal) that the Roman Senator Cato the Elder ended each of his speeches with “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse” or some variation. Meaning, of course, Carthage must be destroyed.

Since learning that fact from my mother sometime in elementary school (that’s what happens when your mother is a world history teacher), I have been fascinated by Latin phrases.   (When I grow up, I want to be Jed Bartlet who can spout the proper Latin phrase at the right time.)

I especially like the idea of a battle cry in Latin.  It somehow seems more forceful.

So I end this entry, and plan on ending future entries about the Rep with the Latin for “Save the Repertory Theatre” (sorry, Arkansas does not translate well into Latin.)

Repertorium Praeter Theatrum

2 Grants worth more than $1 Million Offered to Arkansas Rep

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Board of Directors has announced that they have received two matching grants worth more than one million dollars to fund The Rep’s Our Next Act campaign.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about these challenge grants. They make it possible for those who love The Rep to double their gift!” Ruth Shepherd, Board Chair-Elect said. “With these gifts the Windgate and John & Robyn Horn Foundations have said loud and clear, ‘We believe in the future of a re-designed Rep.’ So now we need everyone to help us earn that match.”

The John & Robyn Horn Foundation •
The John & Robyn Horn Foundation approved a challenge grant of $25,000 designated for “General Support.”

Windgate Charitable Foundation •
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre received a challenge grant today for $1,000,000. • “I am pleased to notify you that the Board of the Windgate Charitable Foundation has approved a grant of $1,000,000, with an enclosed grant payment of $75,000 for operating needs,” said John E. Brown III, Executive Director of the Windgate Charitable Foundation. The balance of $925,000 is offered as a challenge grant for the Our Next Act Campaign. John E. Brown III concluded his letter, “We wish you great success in the coming year.”

Board Chair, Brian Bush said, “We are incredibly grateful to the Windgate Charitable Foundation and the John & Robyn Horn Foundation. This gives our public campaign the start that we’ve needed.”

15 Highlights of 2015 – New Visual Arts Building Announced for UALR thanks to gift from Windgate Foundation

Entry DriveFor the final fifteen days of 2015, a look back at some of the cultural highlights of 2015.

Up next–

In May, UALR announced plans for a new Visual Arts Building.  With a target date to open in fall 2017, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s newest building will be among the finest higher education facilities in the country for visual arts education.

UALR unveiled the design concept for the 71,636 square-foot building during a news conference in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall. The visual arts building will be funded by a $20.3 million grant award approved by the Trustees of the Windgate Charitable Foundation, headquartered in Siloam Springs. The grant, designated for building construction and equipment, is the second largest gift in UALR’s history.

UALR serves about 1,000 students each year who are enrolled in visual arts classes. This semester, 180 students have designated visual arts as their major, and there are 16 full-time faculty devoted to visual arts programs.

The new facility, to be located on the UALR campus at 28th Street and East Campus Drive, will bring together under one roof the applied design program currently located at University Plaza and the art history and studio arts programs currently in the Fine Arts Building, a structure built in 1977 to house the departments of art and music.

The new building will integrate UALR’s Applied Design, Art History and Studio Arts classes into a facility that promotes collaboration and creativity between students, faculty and guests under one roof. Drawing/Painting/Printmaking/Art History and 2D Design and Illustration classrooms will be located on the north side of the building to make use of the large expanse of glass along 28th Street.

Faculty and administrative offices will be oriented on the south side to take advantage of the campus and natural plaza views. Photography and Graphic Design spaces will complete the programs that are housed within the visual arts track.

Students and visitors have the opportunity to experience two generous art galleries within the building showcasing both permanent and transitional exhibits or attend a guest lecturer speaking in the 80-seat lecture hall and reception venue on the ground floor.

The Applied Design spaces will be organized within a single story industrial high bay section of the building to take advantage of the expansive volumes of space necessary for Sculpture/Metalsmithing/Furniture Design /3D Craft & Fibers/Ceramics. Each of these spaces has access to an outdoor studio space that allows work on large pieces with natural ventilation and sunlight.

The building will be designed to achieve a LEED Silver rating with the USGBC LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art/Applied Design track, a unique program in Arkansas, primarily serves students interested in the study of traditional arts and crafts representative of the South Central region of the U.S., with particular emphasis upon craft practices within Arkansas.

“The vision of the Department of Art is to be a destination center for students intent on pursuing lifelong careers in the visual arts,” said department chair Tom Clifton. “This new facility will enable the department to embrace traditional, contemporary, and technological approaches to the visual arts in central Arkansas and provide opportunities for students throughout the southern region of the United States.

The Windgate Charitable Foundation has provided consistent and visionary support of the UALR Department of Art through scholarships, program support, visiting artists, workshops and gallery exhibitions.

$1.5M Grant for Pulaski Tech Center for Humanities & Arts announced

PTC CHARTSThe Windgate Charitable Foundation has awarded Pulaski Technical College Foundation a $1.5 million grant to furnish and equip the college’s new Center for Humanities and Arts which is nearing completion and is slated to open in January 2016.

The grant is the largest private gift in the college’s history.

“This is such an amazing gift and will be a game changer for the students and the entire community,” said Shannon Boshears, executive director of the PTC Foundation. “Many of our students have never seen a play or been to an art gallery. All of our students will benefit from this by enhancing their college experience and keeping them in school.”

The college will receive $1 million to purchase various and much needed items including musical instruments, art supplies, audio-visual equipment for the performance theater, plus tools and materials for the Big Rock Sculpture Park that adjoins the building. The remaining $500,000 will be used as a challenge grant that Windgate will match dollar-for-dollar to create an endowment to support the building’s operations.

Every student who is pursuing an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree will utilize the new building.

“We know that this gift will dramatically impact the lives of our students and community, and with its support to our Fine Arts curriculum, will cultivate an arts appreciation and perspective never before imaginable. That is a life gift for our PTC students and their families,” said PTC President Dr. Margaret Ellibee.

The 90,000-square-foot center integrates Pulaski Tech’s humanities and arts offerings including visual and studio arts, theatre, music, English, speech and philosophy. Inside are art studios, gallery and exhibit space, music rooms, a black box theatre with flexible seating, and 500-seat theatre that will be available for campus and community events.