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ETSU Arts Initiative fundraising campaign nearing halfway mark

Rex Barber • Jul 19, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Right around 45 percent of the $9.5 million East Tennessee State University needs to raise for it’s part of a proposed $38 million fine and performing arts center has in fact been raised in five months.

ETSU President Brian Noland announced Friday in a news release that $4.24 million has been donated to the ETSU Arts Initiative since it was announced Feb. 14.

“We’re very pleased with our progress to date since Feb. 14 and really appreciate those alumni and friends who have given so far,” said Jeff Anderson, interim vice president for university advancement.

James C. Martin provided a $3 million lead gift for the arts initiative back in February. He has given around $7 million total to ETSU to support the arts since 2009, establishing the Mary B. Martin School of the arts in memory of his late wife.

In this year’s state budget ETSU was approved to spend $1.5 million to plan for the arts center. According to ETSU, the facility is projected to cost $38 million, and through the arts initiative, the university intends to raise $9.5 million that will be used as matching funds for the center, with hopes that the remaining dollars will be included in the state’s 2014-15 budget.

Two recent gifts from Bert Bach and Robert and Jane LaPella for $50,000 each pushed the total fundraising to the $4.24 million announced Friday.

Bach is provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at ETSU, where he first joined the administration in 1991 as interim president. Bach has dedicated more than 35 years of his career to working in Tennessee higher education and has been a strong supporter of arts programs at ETSU and across the region.

Robert LaPella retired in 1997 from ETSU, where he was an associate professor of music and led the vocal division and opera programs. He was also founder, director and conductor of the Johnson City Civic Chorale, where he participated in more than 60 major concerts during a span of 20 years.

His wife, Jane LaPella, is a well-known organist and pianist across the region. She has served as organist at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church since 1963 and has performed at numerous weddings, recitals and special programs across East Tennessee.

Anderson attended ETSU as an undergraduate from 1979-83 and remembers discussions about the need for a fine and performing arts center at that time.

“So without question this has been a long held dream and now we have a golden window of opportunity... to realize this dream that will be such a tremendous asset for arts education and arts performance across the region.”

Anderson said the deadline for raising the full $9.5 million is June 30, 2014. But he wants to finish the campaign before then.

“And I’m optimistic we can do that,” he said.

So far, 60 people have given to the campaign. Gifts range from $25 up to the $3 million Martin gave.

Anderson said he was appreciative of each and every gift to the university to help make the arts initiative successful.

Through the arts initiative, ETSU has launched a “Now Seating” campaign that allows individuals and businesses to purchase seats in one of three facilities that will be located in the arts center. These include a 1,400-seat concert hall, a 500-seat theater and a 250-seat recital hall.

Seats can be purchased for $250 each and named in honor or memory of a person or in recognition of a business or organization. For each group of seats named, a fourth seat can be purchased if the gift or pledge is paid in full prior to Dec. 31, 2013.

For more information visit etsu.edu/artsinitiative/.

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