KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Aug. 18, 2015) – In its 130th year, the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is honoring its past and celebrating its future, thanks to a $25 million gift, believed to be one of the largest donations to a North American art college.
The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation presented the $25 million donation on behalf of an anonymous donor during a private reception August 18 with KCAI’s board of trustees, faculty, staff and Kansas City arts community supporters in attendance.
“For more than a century, the Kansas City Art Institute has been preparing students to transform the world creatively through art and design,” said Debbie Wilkerson, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. “This gift comes from a donor who has the highest confidence in the Kansas City Art Institute and, therefore, wants to demonstrate that support financially.”
Tony Jones, interim president of KCAI, said, “The gift is a pillow on which we can dream about the future of our college and know our dreams will become reality. This donation is transformative and will cascade down to students, faculty, alumni, donors and the community, and for that we are truly grateful and unabashedly excited.” The $25 million gift allows KCAI to continue to support its talented pool of students and the faculty and be a leader in art and design education well into the future, Jones said.
KCAI has a distinguished history. Notable names associated with the school include legendary painter and former KCAI faculty member Thomas Hart Benton; artists Robert Rauschenberg, John Buck, Akio Takamori, and Nick Cave; and Walt Disney, who took KCAI classes as a teenager, to name a few. Today, KCAI is an innovative leader in art and design education, preparing students to creatively transform the world through those practices. It’s a mission that’s increasingly important and relevant as employers, gallery owners, museum curators and collectors seek out the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers.
The funding includes $14 million for a general endowment. Five million dollars will go toward campus improvements, including deferred maintenance on buildings and landscaping projects. Six million dollars, in the form of a challenge grant, will be used for student scholarships, endowed professorships and visiting professors. Through Dec. 31, 2016, an anonymous fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation will match and double any donation KCAI receives from outside sources up to a total of $6 million. The 2:1 scale is unusual, as most donation matches are at a 1:1 level.
KCAI believes the funding will serve as a tool for recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students, as well as a magnet for other gifts, offering donors a strong foundation on which to build.
“We have a committed board and a climate that’s poised for progress,” said Pat McCown, chair of the board of trustees. “This is only the beginning, and it’s a call to join us at a very exciting time. Over the past few weeks, we’ve celebrated the completion of a major renovation in the Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building and hosted renowned Chinese artists in a residency on campus for Studio Nong. This is a college with a fully integrated system of education that serves Kansas City, the nation and, increasingly, the world.”
About the Kansas City Art Institute
The Kansas City Art Institute, located in Kansas City, Mo., is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, digital media, fiber, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. KCAI also offers a post-baccalaureate program in art education, as well as certificate programs in social practice and in Asian studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at its H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.