Forsyth arts drive in final phase

Rich Noll
Rich Noll

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has kicked off the third and final phase of a three-year drive to raise $26 million.

This year’s effort, which aims to raise $3.2 million, already has raised $1 million.

Since it was launched in April 2008, the drive has raised $24 million to develop an arts complex, build an endowment, brand the community, and grow the council’s annual fund.

Co-chaired by Rich Noll, chairman and CEO of Hanesbrands, and Mike Ernst, the company’s senior vice president and general  manager for direct-to-consumer business, this year’s drive is making special efforts to target physicians and government employees, says Milton Rhodes, the council’s president and CEO.

Dr. John McConnell, CEO at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, is heading the physicians’ effort, while Jimmy Broughton, senior government relations adviser at law firm Womble Carlyle, is heading the government effort.

Operating with a $3 million annual budget and 11 employees, the council last year made grants totaling over $1.8 million.

And despite the onset of the recession, 1,900 teachers in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools gave a total of $90,000 to last year’s drive, says Rhodes, who is retiring effective Oct. 1.

The council will use $11 million raised in the drive to create a Downtown Center for the Arts by renovating the Sawtooth Center and the former AC Delco Battery garage next door.

The new facility, set to open in September, will include the Hanesbrand Theatre and other performing-arts spaces; public galleries; and education areas.

Through the three-year drive, the council also is creating a $5 million endowment, invest $1 million in marketing Winston-Salem as the “City of the Arts and Innovation,” and raising a total of $9 million for annual operating support for arts organizations.

Big gifts to the drive include $5 million from a couple who wish to remain anonymous, $3 million from the Millennium Fund at The Winston-Salem Foundation, and $2 million each from Hanesbrands and Reynolds American.

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