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Kansas City Art Institute Gets Record $25 Million Donation

Missouri Department of Tourism, via flickr

An anonymous donor has given the Kansas City Art Institute a gift of $25 million. It's the largest in the school's history and believed to be one of the largest donations to any arts college in the country.

The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation presented the record-setting donation to the school at a private ceremony Tuesday. Debbie Wilkerson, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a press release, "The gift comes from a donor who has the highest confidence in the Kansas City Art Institute, and therefore, wants to demonstrate that support financially."

The donation includes $14 million for a general endowment and $5 million for campus improvements. Another $6 million will be aimed at scholarships and endowed professorships through a challenge grant. The grant will match and double any donation KCAI receives from outside sources.

"Suddenly we have this inspirational gift," says Tony Jones, interim president of KCAI. "And what the donor has done is essentially challenge us ... if you had good dreams, here's your moment to be able to make them come to life." 

KCAI believes the money will recruit faculty, staff, and students as well as other donations.

"It's an incredible vote of confidence in what we do and what we are going to be able to do," says Jones. "It will change everything that we can do. It's a tipping moment in the future of our college."

The arts college has more than 600 students and about 75 faculty members. It was founded in 1885 and has boasted notable faculty members, such as Thomas Hart Benton, and alumni. 

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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