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Challenge gift to boost stature of art programs

Sept. 2, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A $1 million challenge gift from an anonymous donor will help bring internationally known exhibitions to Western Michigan University's new Richmond Center for Visual Arts and provide ongoing support to its Gwen Frostic School of Art.

The WMU College of Fine Arts and Frostic School of Art recently announced the challenge. The anonymous donor has agreed to match all private support toward the Richmond Center and School of Art, up to $1 million, to fully capitalize on the University's new art facilities.

"This gift has the capability of enriching and enhancing the Richmond Center and Frostic School of Art programs at a most opportune time," says Joyce Kubiski, director of the art school. "The school's instructional and exhibitions programs have been recently transformed by our new facilities in the Richmond Center and Kohrman Hall, which has been newly renovated. As a result, expectations for our programming are raised, presenting numerous challenges and opportunities."

The Frostic School's physical presence has undergone a major upgrade in the past year. In March 2007, the Richmond Center, a 44,000-square-foot, $13 million space boasting three large galleries and a massive sculpture garden, opened for the first time. This past spring, a newly renovated South Kohrman Hall space was opened as the home of the Frostic School of Art, providing a much-needed new district of art studios, classrooms and exhibition areas.

To date, more than $200,000 has already been raised toward the challenge, which promises to aid the Richmond Center and Frostic School with timely support for student projects, faculty research and facilities enhancements. Although the anonymous donor has stated that all gifts to be matched must be made by the end of 2012, it is hoped that the goal can be reached sooner. Funds are being matched on a quarterly basis by the anonymous donor, so additional gifts will be "doubled" quickly to provide maximum flexibility and funding impact for the Richmond Center and Frostic School.

According to Don Desmett, director of exhibitions for the Richmond Center, the challenge gift is already enabling the attraction of top-level exhibitions that are commensurate with the caliber of the facility. An example of the quality made possible by the challenge is the first exhibition of the 2008-09 season which opens in the Richmond Center's Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery on Thursday, Sept. 4. Noted New York sculptor David Henderson will present "Man 'o War," which continues through Oct. 18 and features new works that have been specifically designed for the lofty two-story galleries of the Richmond Center.

"The return on investment for such gifts benefits our students and community," Kubiski says. "With this additional support, we fully intend to demonstrate the power of private philanthropy through high-quality programming. We know there are multiple alumni and friends who share this vision."

For additional information on the challenge gift for the Richmond Center and Frostic School of Art, please contact Barbara Kreuzer, director of development for the WMU College of Fine Arts, at (269) 387-4182.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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