School of Arts booming

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Boosted by support from two foundations and larger individual donors, the N.C. School of the Arts raised more than $5.6 million in private support in the year ended June 30, its most ever.

Now the school is trying to enlist donors throughout the state by teaming up with local community foundations, and gearing up for a big campaign that could begin raising money quietly in a year or two and kick off publicly in 2007.

While no goal has been set, it likely would exceed $50 million, says Bill Porter, vice chancellor for development and public relations.

Despite the rough economy, he said, the school has been able “to maintain and to some extent increase the participation of alumni, parents and friends.”

The school, which opened its doors in 1965, raised $25.5 million in a comprehensive campaign that ended in December 1998, exceeding its goal by $500,000.

In the fiscal year just ended, the school had 2,111 donors, up from 1,241 in 1993.

The number of donors giving $1,000 or more has grown to 477 from 363 two years ago, when the school stepped up its program to target bigger annual gifts, says Holly Marion, director of individual giving.

Annual giving last year included $1 million from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh, the first installment in $10 million to be paid over 10 years to support the school’s Fletcher Opera Institute, and more than $500,000 from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust in Chapel Hill to help match a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York and to support faculty development and student internships and scholarships.

To reach more donors throughout the state, the school has created endowment funds totaling $1.5 million at community foundations or funds in Charlotte, Greensboro, Hendersonville, Hickory, Manteo and the Triangle.

“The idea over time is to build those funds with local support and to strengthen the school’s relationship to the communities,” Porter says.

While the school is raising nearly four times what is generated 10 years ago, when it raised $1.5 million in private giving, its 11-person development staff has not grown.

Part of a long-range planning process the school began a year ago will include developing details for the new campaign, he says, and for the development staff “to move to the next level.”

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