Powering Creativity: UNCSA launches largest-ever fundraising campaign

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has launched its most ambitious fundraising effort in university history—a $65 million comprehensive campaign called Powering Creativity: The Campaign for UNCSA.

Powering Creativity will help the university build the future of the arts by educating and inspiring the next generation of artists and creative innovators. The campaign’s $65 million goal centers around five pillars: scholarships ($25 million), faculty support ($8 million), innovation ($18 million), living and learning environment (facilities) improvements ($12 million), and community engagement ($2 million).

UNCSA leaders announced Powering Creativity—its first major fundraising campaign in decades—at an event in the School of Filmmaking’s Film Village on September 14.

“Remarkable work has been accomplished at UNCSA since our founding more than half a century ago,” said Ralph Womble, chair of the UNCSA Board of Trustees and co-chair, along with Charlotte’s Charles Lucas, of the Powering Creativity campaign leadership circle. “Our students and alumni are helping to shape the future of the arts and entertainment. We can’t wait to see what they will be able to achieve next, thanks to the support of our extraordinarily generous donors.”

The campaign will run until June 2021. UNCSA raised $53.5 million during the campaign’s quiet phase, which began with a lead gift of $5 million from beloved Chancellor Emeritus Alex Ewing in 2016.

UNCSA is poised to reach new heights and further establish its position as a leading cultural institution in the South.

Interim Chancellor Brian Cole

“UNCSA is poised to reach new heights and further establish its position as a leading cultural institution in the South,” said Brian Cole, UNCSA’s interim chancellor. “These five pillars represent the greatest areas of opportunity for the university to build on its remarkable accomplishments.”

The five pillars of the campaign, in more detail, include:

"What It Takes"
Introducing Powering Creativity: The Campaign for UNCSA

To date, Powering Creativity has generated tremendous enthusiasm among donors, leading to three consecutive years of fundraising at record levels during the campaign’s quiet phase. Specific examples of the fundraising success achieved during this phase include:

  • Chancellor Emeritus Alex Ewing’s $5 million lead gift to support the renovation of Performance Place, which has been named in his honor.
  • An anonymous $10 million gift to establish a graduate level Animatronics program in the School of Design & Production, and support the School of Filmmaking’s work in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).
  • A $5 million gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust in honor of former chancellor Lindsay Bierman to expand the Kenan Excellence Scholars program, increasing the number of scholarships from 12 to 20 annually.
  • Estate gifts totaling $4 million from an anonymous donor and Jenny Lillian Semans Koortbojian—the daughter of early UNCSA benefactors Dr. James H. and Mary D.B.T. Semans—which have allowed the School of Music to double the number of merit scholarships it awards.
  • The establishment of more than 35 new endowed scholarships.
  • The establishment of four new distinguished professorships with matching support from the State of North Carolina. 

“Powering Creativity is an ambitious fundraising initiative, but our early progress has inspired and encouraged us to stretch beyond the original goal,” said Edward J. Lewis III, vice chancellor for advancement. “Art powers not only our university, but our entire society. It connects us, makes our world more vibrant and our lives more meaningful. And through this campaign, our supporters are powering art.”

Art powers us. You can power art.


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September 14, 2019