Windgate Foundation Gives $14 Million in Support of Arts Education

The funding will support scholarships and endowments at A-State and UAFS.

Guests visit the Bradbury Art Museum
A gift from the Windgate Foundation includes a $2 million endowment for operations and programs of the Bradbury Art Museum at Arkansas State University. Photo courtesy: Bradbury Art Museum.

Arkansas State University on Wednesday announced a $6.4 million grant from the Windgate Foundation to support arts education and provide direct assistance to students through needs-based scholarships. The Windgate grant creates three endowments at A-State and also provides immediate support to each area.

“On behalf of Arkansas State, I want to thank the Windgate Foundation for their ongoing support of the arts and our students,” Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said.  “We know the value that art plays in our communities, both on campus and across our region, and these grants will ensure the continued impact of both A-State and art in Northeast Arkansas.”

The $6.4 million ranks among the largest foundation gifts to Arkansas State, and it is among the top three all-time gifts to the arts at A-State. The largest single area of support defined by this grant is the creation of a $3 million need-based scholarship endowment to begin supporting A-State students during the upcoming 2021-22 academic year. Details on how students will receive the Windgate scholarships will be determined later this month and outreach to those qualified will begin soon, according to a press release.

In 2018, the Windgate Gallery was named at Bradbury Art Museum to honor a grant that supports BAM’s outreach efforts and assists with the transition from gallery to museum status.  This new grant includes two gifts for BAM — a $2 million endowment for operations and programs of the museum, and a matching grant of $30,000 for the “BAM Van.”

“Creating the matching grant challenge for the BAM Van will provide great opportunities to expand our outreach in Jonesboro and across the region,” BAM director Garry Holstein said.  “We are excited to bring our programming into the communities and schools of our region. Field trips can be very limited due to funding or even timing for rural school districts. Now, we will be able to bring BAM to them.”

Windgate Center for Three-Dimensional Arts is set to welcome A-State students to new classrooms and workspaces for the fall 2021 semester. This new gift includes a $1 million building maintenance endowment to support the facility.

Yesterday’s announcement is the second one this week regarding a multimillion gift from the Windgate Foundation to an Arkansas university. The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith on Monday announced a nearly $8 million gift that will provide multiple avenues to support academic opportunities for students.

The gift includes more than $4 million in direct student support through a need-based university scholarship, $394,000 for academic program development and expansions, $240,000 to develop an artist in residence program, and $120,000 to support paid internships for emerging student artists and designers.

Through the $4 million portion of the gift, any UAFS student who is eligible to receive Pell Grants and who receives no other form of free aid will be able to attend the university with little to no out-of-pocket cost. Tuition and mandatory fees for a full-time student at UAFS amount to $7,335 per year, with Pell Grants covering roughly $6,100 of that cost. Through the Windgate gift, the university will be able to provide the remaining $1,235 to eligible students, bringing the cost of their tuition and mandatory fees down to $0.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to bring a college education within reach for so many UAFS Lions,” Chancellor Terisa Riley said. “Approximately 150 students per year need this type of financial assistance, and this generous gift from the Windgate Foundation will allow us to fully cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees for those students who are facing the greatest amount of financial need.”

The internship fund expands existing options for studio art and graphic design majors at UAFS to engage in experiential learning opportunities with direct financial support, easing the burden students often experience when undertaking unpaid internships. 

“We are so excited that the work and time our students expend in these experiences will be both academically and financially beneficial,” said Katie Waugh, head of the UAFS Art Department. “This helps students establish a pattern and expectation early in their careers of being compensated for their creative work.” 

The gift also includes more than $2.8 million dedicated to the Windgate Art and Design Building Facility Endowment. The Windgate Art and Design Building, a fine arts hub on the UAFS campus, was completed in 2015, thanks to a $15.5 million grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation. 

“We are excited, grateful and energized by what has been granted to us but also what lies ahead,” said Blake Rickman, executive director of the UAFS Foundation and vice chancellor for university advancement. “We accept the responsibility that comes with gifts of this magnitude with thoughtful determination, and cannot thank the Windgate Foundation board enough for their trust in this university and the incredible artistic work happening on this campus.”