The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, Oct. 9 for the new Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts.
UCA received the $20 million challenge grant in Jan. 2019 from the Windgate Foundation. The gift is the largest in UCA’s 113-year history. The Windgate Foundation, which is based out of Little Rock, has supported visual arts education programs for more than 27 years.
UCA President Dr. Houston Davis spoke at the ceremony. Interim Vice President of University Advancement Dr. Mary Bank Lackie and Chair of the UCA Board of Trustees Pastor Cornell Malbia gave the opening remarks. Current student Julia Dabdub, recipient of the James Bridges performing arts scholarship, also spoke.
The Windgate Center will cover 99,620 square feet and contain a new concert hall, recital hall, and black box theatre. The building will also contain new lecture halls and studios for students and an outdoor creative quad.
“By creating this facility unique within the region, [the Windgate Center] will also foster partnerships and interdisciplinary collaboration across multiple academic disciplines, fuel the state’s creative economy and draw in arts enthusiasts from across the region to Conway and into UCA,” said Davis.
State leaders including Senator Jason Rapert, Senator Mark Johnson, Representative Stephen Meeks and Representative Spencer Hawk, were also in attendance. The UCA Board of Trustees and members of the UCA community also celebrated the groundbreaking. Social distancing and masks were required of all attendees.
“We’ll be able to help more students earn degrees in art, music, theater and related disciplines, while also graduating a workforce of creative problem solvers, critical thinkers and independent learners,” Davis said. “In order to help those students, though, they need financial support in addition to cutting edge facilities.”
Davis also announced a new $3 million donation from the Alice L. Walton Foundation at the ceremony.
“This gift provides $1 million towards the construction of the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts, $1 million to establish an endowment for ongoing facility maintenance at the Windgate Center, and $1 million endowment contribution to support arts education programming here at UCA,” Davis said.
Members from the Windgate Foundation and the Alice L. Walton Foundation were not in attendance, citing concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony ended with a performance from the UCA marching band.