Portrait of a Patron: Fine Arts Club of Arkansas

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Beaux Arts Ball, Events

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Newspaper article on the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas, 1933

For more than 50 years, the Arkansas Arts Center has contributed to the cultural fabric of Arkansas, creating a legacy worthy of recognition. POP! honors those who have made it all possible. This year, the Arts Center community will toast Jane McGehee Wilson, Townsend Wolfe and the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas in red-carpet style, followed by music and dancing, drinks and light hors d’oeuvres. All proceeds benefit the Arts Center’s education and outreach programs.

Dating from the 1960s, Arkansas Arts Center’s Beaux Arts Ball was reimagined in 2014 to honor those who have played an integral role in the Arts Center’s past and continued success. The 2018 POP! Portrait of a Patron Awards will honor Jane McGehee Wilson for her service, the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas for its philanthropy, and Townsend Wolfe for his lifetime of service.

For more than 100 years, the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas shaped the region’s cultural landscape. Founded in 1914 to aid in the development of the arts in Arkansas, the Fine Arts Club undertook the monumental task of creating a collection and establishing a permanent art gallery. In the 1930s, the Fine Arts Club submitted a proposal to the Works Progress Administration to build a new Museum of Fine Arts in MacArthur Park. Approved by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, financed by Fine Arts Club and built with assistance from the WPA, the museum opened its doors in 1937.

The Fine Arts Club continued to raise funds in the Museum’s early years to finance acquisitions, programming and exhibitions. While Fine Arts Club volunteers made daily operations of the museum possible, board members established endowments that continue to serve the organization today. In 1960, a City of Little Rock ordinance created the Arkansas Arts Center, which was funded in part by the Fine Arts Club’s endowment. As the Arts Center continued to grow, donations from the Fine Arts Club funded everything from a jewelry studio in the Museum School to the docent program, from the Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition to the distinguished lecture series. In the Arts Center’s early years, volunteers staffed the restaurant, Vineyard in the Park, and tips from waiters purchase of artwork for the collection each year. In the 1960s, the Fine Arts Club established Little Rock’s first fundraiser, Beaux Arts Ball. Eventually renamed Tabriz, Beaux Arts Ball was reprised as an off-year fundraiser in 2014. A conservative estimate of the funds raised from these events over the years would top $10 million.

While often recognized for their service, the Fine Arts Club’s generous financial gifts were instrumental in elevating the arts in Arkansas.

POP! Beaux Arts Ball Gold Sponsor is The Stella Boyle Smith Trust. Red Carpet Sponsors are CDI Contractors; Stuart Cobb; Mr. and Mrs. Merritt P. Dyke; Entergy Arkansas, Inc.; Bill and Kay Patton; Mrs. Lisenne Rockefeller. Legacy Sponsors are Bank of America; Bank of the Ozarks; Jack and Nan Ellen East; Barbara Rogers Hoover; Cindy and Chip Murphy; Belinda Shults; VCC, LLC. Host Sponsors are AAC Contemporaries; Carolynn Conway Coleman; Dillon Homes & Real Estate; Maribeth and John Frazer; June Freeman; HoganTaylor LLP; Brenda Mize; Nabholz; Tabatha and Brodes Perry; Jane McGehee Wilson and Brooks Wolfe; Pat Wilson. Little Rock Soiree/Arkansas Business Publishing Group is the media sponsor. Moon Distributors is the beverage sponsor. Tipton Hurst is the floral sponsor. Hank’s Event Rentals is the furniture sponsor.

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