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Woodruff Arts Center launches $100 million “Transformation” campaign

Woodruff Arts Center

Photo credit: The Wodruff Arts Center in Atlanta www.woodruffcenter.org

By Maria Saporta

The Woodruff Arts Center held a Kumbaya breakfast Wednesday morning to launch its $100 million “Transformation” campaign.

The performing arts and cultural organization also announced that it already had raised $61.8 million towards its $100 million goal.

It also was the first time that anyone can remember, the Woodruff Arts Center brought together all of its board members as well as those of its various divisions – the Alliance Theatre, the High Museum of Art, Arts for Learning and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra – together for such an announcement.

Woodruff Arts Center

Woodruff Arts Center

It is part of multi-year effort to make the Center and its various divisions much more collaborative, integrated and harmonious. The $100 million campaign – which will touch every division and the Center’s overall goals – is an outgrowth of the new united approach.

“It’s a great day for the Woodruff Arts Center, no fooling,” said Virginia Hepner, WAC’s president who had been wary of holding the breakfast on April Fools Day. “I hope you feel the joy, the excitement and the anticipation that’s present at the Woodruff Arts Center.”

The honorary chair of the campaign is Anne Cox Chambers, who has been a loyal patron to the arts and the Center. The campaign chair is Doug Hertz, president and COO of United Distributors who also chairs the Woodruff Arts Center board. Tommy Holder, CEO of Holder Construction, is the facilities chair of the campaign.

The campaign is designed to dramatically increase endowments, renovate the Center’s Alliance Theatre and Memorial Arts Building, and to provide greater access to the arts for families.

Of the $61.8 million that has been raised, the previously announced gifts include the Woodruff Foundation – $38 million grant, the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation – $6.6 million) and the Carl and Sally Gable – $1.25 million.

Gifts that were announced Wednesday morning include $4.1 million collectively from board members of the Alliance Theatre for the renovation of the theater, $6.1 million from Anne Cox Chambers, and $1.25 million from theAbraham J. & Phyllis Katz Foundation for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s musicians’ endowment fund.

Hertz said the goal is to raise the $100 million by the end of 2016, but he hopes the money could in a much shorter time frame.

“Remember, this is just phase one,” Hertz said after the breakfast. “We are actively soliciting gifts presently. We are hoping to hear back from some major donors.”

Hepner said the campaign will allow the Center to modernize the Alliance Theater and rehearsal spaces, increase the size of the orchestra and expand its community outreach and education programming.

“At the same time it puts us on stronger financial footing,” she said. “The support we have received thus far demonstrates both the importance of the arts to our community and the quality of the artistic and educational work we do at the Woodruff Arts Center.”

Of the $100 million raised, $56 million will be allocated to the Center’s endowment so that it can generate more annual operating revenues. Currently the $318 million endowment across the Center generates about 16 percent of the Center’s annual revenues.

The breakdown of the $35 million in capital improvements is that $20 million will go towards the transformation of the Alliance Theatre, $1 million will go towards the High Museum and $14 million will go towards improving the overall physical state of the Woodruff Arts Center.

Another $9 million will go towards expanding family-oriented programming and greater program activation of the Arts Center. For example, Sundays will now become a day oriented to families and children who want to experience the various divisions.

Kristin Hathaway Hansen is serving as director of the Center’s “Transformation” campaign.
“We are thrilled to have over 60 percent of our funding pledged during the ‘quiet’ phase of our campaign,” said Janine Musholt, WAC’s vice president of Advancement. “In addition to the leadership gifts, the remaining commitments are from individuals, ranging in size from $1,000 to $1 million. It really speaks to the broad generosity of this community and the passion our supporters have for the arts and arts education.”

The campaign is the largest undertaken by the Woodruff Arts Center, but it is not as big as the $135 million campaign that built the expansion of the High Museum of Art a number of years ago.

Maria Saporta

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.



  1. Guest April 1, 2015 3:11 pm

    Transformation might be a tad strong for the theme of this campaign, remedial would be more accurate.Report

  2. Guest April 1, 2015 5:25 pm

    @Guest  $ 250 million would be transformative.Report

  3. Ann W Cramer April 1, 2015 6:15 pm

    Terrific opportunity for the arts in Atlanta!! Great gathering!!Report

  4. Burroughston Broch April 2, 2015 12:22 pm

    I have contributed to WAC’s past campaigns, but will not contribute to this one because:
    1. WAC was a poor steward of contributions by letting $1.438million be embezzled over the course of many years, and has not been forthcoming about how it will prevent repetitions.
    2. WAC treated the ASOC artists like dirt.
    3. WAC already sucks up the majority of arts funding in the area and stunts the other organizations. It’s time to fund the others, not to give WAC more $millions to add to their endowment.Report

  5. Burroughston Broch April 6, 2015 2:14 am

    @Guest The present $318million endowment provides 16% of the revenues, so adding $56million to the endowment would increase the revenues provided by the endowment from 16% to 19%. If they increase the endowment to $1.99billion it would provide 100% of the revenues and the sales staff would have nothing to do.Report


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