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Column: Civic Atlanta: Woodruff Arts Center gets $5.1 million grant to extend free arts programs

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Dec. 15, 2017

The Woodruff Arts Center will be able to continue its Family Fun programming over the next three years thanks to a new philanthropic grant.

The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, which is part of the Robert W. Woodruff family of foundations, has awarded the Woodruff Arts Center an extension grant of $5.1 million to allow Family Fun to continue – offering free access to music, visual arts and theater for another three years.

Woodruff Arts Center

Woodruff Arts Center (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The foundation initially awarded a three-year, $6.6 million grant in early 2015 to launch family-oriented programs that would provide greater access to the Art Center.

After two-and-a-half years, the initiative has brought more than 160,000 students, children and parents to the Arts Center, and 27,000 of those were first-time visitors to the campus.

“The grant will enable us to continue this incredible family programming,” said Janine Musholt, senior vice president of advancement for the Woodruff Arts Center. “The first three years were really an experiment. We have been able to introduce the Arts Center to new audiences, and we are seeing an increase in family programming. We are so grateful to the foundation.”

The new funding will allow the Arts Center to provide free access to the High Museum of Art’s collection on Second Sundays throughout the year as well as select performances from the Alliance Theatre’s Youth and Families programming and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Family Concert Series.

In addition to the core programs and Family Festivals, the program has helped expand Early Learning experiences for very young children, brought greater activation to the Arts Center’s campus and new opportunities for collaboration between the Center’s artistic divisions.

Musholt said the grant will allow the Center to continue funding the popular installations on the piazza, which have helped activate the entire campus and invited new audiences to experience the offerings of the Center’s various divisions.

“Certainly the campus is more diverse since we’ve been doing this programming,” Musholt said. “We want our programming to be accessible to everyone.”

Rollins Foundation and Wesley Woods

The O. Wayne Rollins Foundation has awarded a $3.3 million grant to the Foundation of Wesley Woods to support a new program that will provide critical spiritual care to the senior adult residents, who often are struggling with end-of-life questions, age-associated grief and other issues.

It is one of the largest grants ever received by Wesley Woods, and the endowment will support the position of director of the Wesley Woods Pastoral Care Program in perpetuity.

When implemented, the program will provide on-site, dedicated United Methodist Church ordained clergy at each of the organization’s 10 communities. The director will be responsible for building the program, hiring and developing the chaplaincy staff, developing the volunteer structure and assuring that established outcomes are met.

The initial programmatic and development work of the new Pastoral Care Program was funded by a $100,000 gift given by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Senior adults often face greater issues of loss, grief, loneliness and despair, plus they often grapple with spiritual questions related to death and dying,” said Tracy Crump, president and CEO of the Foundation of Wesley Woods. “Thanks to the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation, we can now provide our residents with the best in pastoral care, onsite in our communities, assuring that those we serve can have the peace, comfort, and joy found through faith.”

Amy Rollins Kreisler, a director of the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation, said its board was pleased to support the Pastoral Care program.

“My grandparents, O. Wayne and Grace Rollins, believed in giving to organizations that would affect people’s lives,” she said. “Our family has strived to keep that vision alive by the Foundation’s ’ continued interest in many programs here in and around Atlanta.”

Boy Scouts and AT&T Randall Stephenson

Despite an unforeseen snow storm, the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America raised more than $1.95 million at its Golden Eagle luncheon on Dec. 8 at the Cobb Galleria.

A keynote speech by Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, was a highlight of the luncheon, which had about 1,350 attendees (see related photos on Page 8A, The Insider.)

Stephenson said the nation’s greatest need today is leadership and character development, which is where the Boy Scouts organization excels.

“Our leaders are failing in the most basic virtues for a civil society,” said Stephenson, calling accusations of the behavior by some leaders as “abhorrent.” As a result, there has been a loss of confidence in our nation’s institutions. “America needs a renewed commitment to broad-based leadership development.”

After his talk, Stephenson was asked how Atlanta would be impacted with the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

“This is a really important market for us,” Stephenson said. “As we conclude our Time Warner merger, Atlanta will become a core for our media business. It will be a more important market for us.”

Tom Johnson, retired president of CNN, also had a private meeting with Stephenson, after the lunch.

Johnson, in an email, said the meeting went well.

“Randall Stephenson assured me that AT&T would support the editorial independence of CNN editors and journalists,” Johnson said. “He was emphatic about that.

“He also was forceful in conveying to me that he has no intention whatsoever of selling CNN as a condition of making the deal between AT&T and Time Warner,” Johnson added. “He conveyed to me his determination to keep in place those who have made CNN the most trusted network.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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