August 18, 2015

KCAI Receives $25 Million Donation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Aug. 18, 2015) – In its 130th year, the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is honoring its past and celebrating its future, thanks to a $25 million gift, believed to be one of the largest donations to a North American art college.

The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation presented the $25 million donation on behalf of an anonymous donor during a private reception August 18 with KCAI’s board of trustees, faculty, staff and Kansas City arts community supporters in attendance.

“For more than a century, the Kansas City Art Institute has been preparing students to transform the world creatively through art and design,” said Debbie Wilkerson, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. “This gift comes from a donor who has the highest confidence in the Kansas City Art Institute and, therefore, wants to demonstrate that support financially.”

Tony Jones, interim president of KCAI, said, “The gift is a pillow on which we can dream about the future of our college and know our dreams will become reality. This donation is transformative and will cascade down to students, faculty, alumni, donors and the community, and for that we are truly grateful and unabashedly excited.” The $25 million gift allows KCAI to continue to support its talented pool of students and the faculty and be a leader in art and design education well into the future, Jones said.

KCAI has a distinguished history. Notable names associated with the school include legendary painter and former KCAI faculty member Thomas Hart Benton; artists Robert Rauschenberg, John Buck, Akio Takamori, and Nick Cave; and Walt Disney, who took KCAI classes as a teenager, to name a few. Today, KCAI is an innovative leader in art and design education, preparing students to creatively transform the world through those practices. It’s a mission that’s increasingly important and relevant as employers, gallery owners, museum curators and collectors seek out the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers.

The funding includes $14 million for a general endowment. Five million dollars will go toward campus improvements, including deferred maintenance on buildings and landscaping projects. Six million dollars, in the form of a challenge grant, will be used for student scholarships, endowed professorships and visiting professors. Through Dec. 31, 2016, an anonymous fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation will match and double any donation KCAI receives from outside sources up to a total of $6 million. The 2:1 scale is unusual, as most donation matches are at a 1:1 level.

KCAI believes the funding will serve as a tool for recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students, as well as a magnet for other gifts, offering donors a strong foundation on which to build.

“We have a committed board and a climate that’s poised for progress,” said Pat McCown, chair of the board of trustees. “This is only the beginning, and it’s a call to join us at a very exciting time. Over the past few weeks, we’ve celebrated the completion of a major renovation in the Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building and hosted renowned Chinese artists in a residency on campus for Studio Nong. This is a college with a fully integrated system of education that serves Kansas City, the nation and, increasingly, the world.”

October 11, 2016

KCAI Hosts Make48 Competition Oct. 28-30

Typically product development starts with a brilliant idea that is built out and tested during months of research and development, followed by pitching to investors and retailers, until success or failure is realized. Make48, the world’s most unique invent-a-thon competition, compresses this entire process into a 48-hour weekend and gives teams a chance to see their invention make it to market. The Kansas City Art Institute is the host of the Make48 competition October 28-30. On the first day of the Make48 competition, teams meet with their sponsors who range from fellow inventors that rose to fame and incredible levels of success by appearing on Shark Tank to representatives from some of the world’s largest companies, like QVC, Epilog Laser, Ultimaker 3D Printers and Indiegogo. Sponsors are present throughout the competition to lend industry expertise and personal experience, advising their teams as they work as quickly as possible to brainstorm, draft, design, produce and market their invention. During the opening ceremony, teams and attendees wait with bated breath to find out what challenge the teams will have to solve with their inventions. Once the challenge is unveiled, the teams race to their workspace to begin brainstorming products ideas. Each idea read more…

October 5, 2016

One year later – $25 million donation transforms KCAI and the community

One year after receiving a $25 million gift (fondly known as The Great Gift) from an anonymous donor via the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is thriving. As part of the $25 million gift, KCAI successfully met a $3 million two-to-one (2:1) challenge grant 11 months ahead of schedule, which resulted in 10 new student scholarships, four endowed department chair positions and an endowed presidency. “The Great Gift gave us a pillow to dream on, imagining where we want to go as a college.  It has given us confidence and financial security, and a way to make our dreams come true – very quickly,“ said Tony Jones, The Nerman Family President. Among the college’s priorities are scholarships to help students realize their educational objectives. More than 90 percent of students receive some form of scholarship or financial aid at KCAI. Artist and longtime supporter Jane Voorhees, who recently endowed The Jane Voorhees Scholarship in Printmaking, said “Teaching as an adjunct instructor for 10 years at KCAI gave me a front row seat to the wonderful changes that were occurring there. I was especially moved by watching the growth in Miguel Rivera’s (chair of printmaking) read more…