Gifts will allow UNCSA to move forward with plans for Arts Walk

Gifts from local businessman and philanthropist Ben C. Sutton Jr. and the Twin City Garden Club will allow the University of North Carolina School of the Arts to move forward with one component of its campus master plan: creating an Arts Walk that will connect the campus with the Strollway and Salem Lake Greenways, Chancellor Lindsay Bierman announced.

Sutton donated $40,000 for the university to purchase a piece of land at the intersection of South Main Street and Waughtown Street, on the northern edge of the campus. Called “the Point” for its triangular shape, the site recently hosted the Winston-Salem Light Project. UNCSA consulted with Roots First Design based in Winston-Salem and Asheville to design the northernmost portion of the Arts Walk on the land purchased with Sutton’s gift.  

The land will be the starting point of a landscaped path that will connect the Strollway to the UNCSA campus, eventually extending through the heart of campus.  Landscaping could begin in Fall 2019.

Our Master Plan aspires to beautify and transform our campus, and these generous gifts will help us realize one of our dream projects.

Chancellor Lindsay Bierman

UNCSA received a $20,000 grant from Twin City Garden Club for plantings and materials along the path, which will also be marked with ambient works by students and alumni.

“As a public university and a leading cultural institution, UNCSA must drive creative placemaking in Winston-Salem to strengthen and enhance our community,” Bierman said. “Our Master Plan aspires to beautify and transform our campus, and these generous gifts will help us realize one of our dream projects. I’m grateful to Ben and the members of the Twin City Garden Club for supporting our long-term vision,” he added.

“We are pleased to support UNCSA in acquiring an important parcel of property as they develop the university’s Arts Walk as envisioned in the campus master plan,” said Sutton, chairman of Teall Capital Partners.  “UNCSA is one of North Carolina’s greatest treasures, and Lindsay Bierman and his team are doing really incredible work both on campus and in the surrounding area. We look forward to seeing the enhancements along the Arts Walk that will serve not only the campus community, but will enhance adjoining neighborhoods as well,” Sutton added.

Ben C. Sutton Jr.

Ben C. Sutton Jr. / Photo courtesy of Teall Investments

“Twin City Garden Club is proud to continue its long tradition of supporting community efforts that enhance the physical environment of our city,” said Greer Cawood, the club’s president and a member of the UNCSA Board of Trustees. “UNCSA’s Arts Walk has the potential to impact thousands of residents and visitors each year, and we’re glad to partner with the university in bringing its vision to life.”

The oldest Garden Club in Winston-Salem, Twin City’s mission is to study the culture of flowers, exchange ideas and increase interest in gardening, environment and conservation. Over the years the club has supported gardening projects at Old Salem, Tanglewood Park, Reynolda House and Gardens, Bethabara Park, Industries for the Blind, Habitat for Humanity homesites, and the Boys and Girls Club. It previously funded an irrigation project at UNCSA.  

Greer Cawood

Greer Cawood / Photo: Allen Aycock

Sutton is the founder and managing partner of Teall Capital.  The private equity firm manages investments in a portfolio of businesses including Riddle & Bloom (a national next-generation marketing agency), Tailgate Guys (a national market-leading hospitality company), Sunshine Beverages, and Dyehard Fan Supply (national sports/entertainment merchandising business).  Additionally, Sutton family partnerships have investments in Winston-Salem DASH (minor league baseball), Alpha Omega (Napa Valley winery), North Carolina farming operations, multiple technology companies, real estate and restaurants.

Bierman said the Arts Walk will be an inviting pedestrian entryway to the campus, and will be the path by which students walk, jog or bicycle to the Gateway YWCA, Old Salem, and downtown. “As artists, we yearn to connect, and this is an exciting opportunity to connect the historic neighborhoods that surround our campus – Old Salem, Happy Hill, Washington Park, and Sunnyside – with the vibrant cultural life that is emerging downtown,” he said.  

UNCSA’s campus master plan, approved by the Board of Trustees in December 2017, was developed by renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) and the DLR Group of Charlotte with input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and stakeholders over a 10-month period. In its 48-year history, RAMSA has established an international reputation as a leading design firm with global experience in residential, commercial and institutional work. They’ve designed the Comcast Center in Philadelphia; The George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas; Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston; Disney’s Board Walk in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; Tour Carpe Diem in Courbevoie, France; and the Entertainment and Retail Center at Diagonal Mar in Barcelona. Higher education clients include Wake Forest University, Elon University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Yale, Harvard, the University of Michigan, Cal State Northridge, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, Villanova, the University of Virginia, and Pennsylvania State.

Bierman said the plan is a “big-picture, long-term, holistic vision to guide key decisions about new construction, nonstop renovations, adaptive reuse, wayfinding, landscape, hardscape, and neighborhood development over the next two (or more) decades.”

More about Ben C. Sutton Jr.

Sutton was previously chairman and CEO of IMG College, the largest college sports sponsorship and media company in America, and the top sports sales organization in the country (as named by industry trade publication Sports Business Journal).  In addition to founding and building three of the four core businesses of IMG College into national market-leading companies, he and his team were largely responsible for the meteoric overall growth of IMG Worldwide, engineering the sale of the company in 2014 to Silver Lake Capital Partners and WME for $2.4 billion.  At the time, IMG College was the national market leader in media, licensing, ticketing and stadium seating, working with more than 225 universities, college athletic conferences, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the College Football Playoff.  During his tenure, IMG managed the largest radio network in America, producing and distributing more than 35,000 hours of programming to 2,200 radio stations and distributing nearly 5,000 hours of TV programming to over 200 U.S. outlets. It also was the largest producer of college sports publications in the country and managed the most official major college sports websites nationally.  Prior to IMG, Sutton spent 18 years as chairman and CEO for ISP Sports. He founded the company in 1992 and is credited with “inventing” the college sports multimedia business model used industrywide since.  

In addition to being named one of the top or most powerful sports executives in America by numerous publications, Sutton has received numerous awards including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine (highest civilian honor in North Carolina); Wake Forest University Distinguished Alumni award; and induction into the North Carolina Sports, National Football Foundation, Sports Business Journal Champions and NACMA halls of fame.  He chairs the boards of directors at Riddle & Bloom, Dyehard Fan Supply and Sunshine, and serves on boards of Verger Capital Management, Wyndham PGA Championship and Tailgate Guys.  He is also a trustee at Wake Forest University and the Ronald Reagan Presidential, United States Olympic Committee, White House Historical Association, National Football and Naismith Basketball foundations.

Sutton, a native of Murfreesboro, N.C., is a graduate of Wake Forest University and its School of Law, and has lived in Winston-Salem since.  He and Sally have two children, Addison (who holds two degrees from Wake Forest and currently works as an athletic fundraiser at her alma mater) and Trey (a junior at Wake Forest).

The Sutton Family Foundation has invested more than $40 million into national, regional and local causes, including Wake Forest University, Ronald Reagan Institute, HopeWay Center, Knollwood Baptist Church, Samaritan Kitchen and Forsyth Country Day School.

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May 28, 2019