Colorado College Receives Fine Arts Center Gift Valued at More Than $175 Million
Largest Gift in College History Increases Community, Campus Collaboration
The assets of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will transfer to Colorado College as a gift valued at more than $175 million, making it the largest gift in the college’s history and the second largest gift received by a liberal arts college.
The center, which includes an art school, theatre and museum with a renowned Southwest and Spanish Colonial collection, became the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College on July 1, 2017, a process that began with an alliance formed in August 2016.
“The amount of this gift is significant, but the true value of the Fine Arts Center and its collections — and the center’s potential to enhance our educational mission — cannot be quantified,” said Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “Through this alliance, we envision an arts renaissance that engages the entire regional community. The center also complements the strengths of Colorado College’s innovative Block Plan, and will add considerable breadth to experiential opportunities we offer our students.”
Members of the Fine Arts Center board and the college’s Board of Trustees decided that the center should play roles in both the Colorado Springs community and the Colorado College community.
“Many museums or centers serve a campus community or a local or regional community, but rarely both,” Tiefenthaler said. “We’re striving to engage these communities by creating the most innovative, dynamic and vibrant organization possible.”
In August, the Fine Arts Center announced reduced admission rates, expanded hours and increased discounts in order to provide greater access for the Colorado Springs community. More recently, the FAC announced the launch of the “Passport to the Arts” program, in which fourth-grade students, two parents and all other children under 18 in the household receive a free, one-year family membership to the Fine Arts Center. The student also receives a free ticket to the FAC’s fall and spring family theatre productions.
The changes come at a time when access and funding for the arts nationally are increasingly limited.
“The Fine Arts Center at Colorado College has been able to buck this trend because the boards of the FAC and the college saw the potential of working together and made thoughtful decisions that are beginning to produce incredible outcomes for the Colorado Springs and Colorado College communities,” said President Tiefenthaler.
The Fine Arts Center’s programming reflects opportunities that have emerged since the alliance. Among them: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Artist in Residence Raven Chacon is co-teaching a class on song, poetry and performance in the Southwest with Colorado College Professor of Music Victoria Levine and Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Carrie Ruiz. This fall, the FAC opened a new classroom gallery in the museum to support hands-on teaching and learning in the museum and so far, the UnBlocked gallery has hosted student examinations of the work of Rembrandt, in conjunction with the Everyday Extraordinary show, and an exhibit curated by first-year students taking an Introduction to Art History course.
Additionally, Colorado College Music Department faculty and students composed and recorded original music for an FAC theatrical production; five CC faculty members collaborated with the FAC and contributed their expertise to a photography exhibit; two key positions have been added to the museum staff, a curator of Southwest art and a director of museum education; and the center’s Bemis School of Art’s annual Fine Arts Sale and Colorado College’s annual Arts and Crafts Sale are combining to create one collaborative community event this winter.
“The Fine Arts Center is an institution with a rich history in Colorado Springs; it is also the largest arts institution between Denver and Santa Fe,” said Rebecca Tucker, museum director and associate professor of art at the college. She notes that since the alliance was formed in August 2016, more than 1,600 students have visited the museum as part of college classes or programs. “Our faculty are enhancing their classes through the center, students are being introduced to new opportunities for experiential learning and community engagement, and bridges between the college and the Colorado Springs community are leading to collaborations that will allow us to become a model of distinction for an arts center that serves a campus, as well as the region and the world,” she said.
The $175 million-plus valuation comes at the same time as the implementation of a strategic plan that includes six recommendations:
1. Nurturing a Community of Artists
2. Inviting Visitors to Enliven the FAC Community
3. Building an Innovative Program of Arts Education
4. Inspiring Creativity through Collaboration
5. Developing an Arts Corridor
6. Underscoring the FAC’s Place as a Distinct National Model for an Arts Center
It is one of the only multi-discipline arts institutions in the nation. The center’s building was designed by noted architect John Gaw Meem, who melded Pueblo and Art Deco styles. The building was opened in 1936 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Earlier this year, the Fine Arts Center was named the Best Gallery and Museum in Colorado, and one of the top 25 in the country by the board of the American Art Awards. Additionally, Don Coen’s exhibition of migrant workers was featured April 8 on NBC Nightly News in a segment called “An Artist Paints the Nation’s Forgotten Migrants, One Canvas at a Time.”
As part of the formal alliance between the college and the FAC, assets of the Fine Arts Center will transfer to Colorado College in 2020 as a gift. These assets, along with the value of an endowment to support the Fine Arts Center in perpetuity, are valued at more than $175 million.
About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its approximately 2,000 undergraduate students study one class at a time in intensive 3½-week segments. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit www.coloradocollege.edu.
About the Fine Arts Center
The story of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College (FAC) begins with the founding of the Broadmoor Art Academy by Julie and Spencer Penrose in 1919. During the Great Depression, three dedicated philanthropists – Julie Penrose, Alice Bemis Taylor, and Elizabeth Sage Hare – envisioned expanding the Broadmoor Art Academy into an entire arts district under one roof. The FAC changed its name, built a grand building, and opened as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 1936. In August 2016, the FAC announced an historic alliance with Colorado College and on July 1, 2017, became the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. The FAC is deeply rooted in the legacy of its founders, who possessed bold visions, a deep passion for the arts, and dedication to the Colorado Springs community. The FAC honors this legacy and spirit today by providing innovative, educational, and multidisciplinary arts experiences designed to elevate the individual spirit and inspire community vitality, building on its history as a unique cultural pillar of the Pikes Peak region. For more information, visit www.coloradocollege.edu/fac.