The Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts recently received a $15 million endowment gift from the Windgate Foundation, the largest gift ever in The Bray’s 71-year history.
“It was definitely a pretty big surprise…and it was definitely a lot bigger than I had hoped or imagined,” said Steven Young Lee, Director Emeritus and Head of Special Projects at The Bray.
The Windgate Foundation, dedicated to supporting contemporary crafts and visual arts in the United States, has helped support The Bray for over a decade.
Money generated from the endowment will help support staffing and other costs accompanying The Bray’s recent growth and expansion.
It will also help support Bray’s priority of expanding its reach in underserved communities to those who typically don’t have access to ceramic art, Lee said.
Some funds will help support The Bray’s International Artist-in-Residence Program, to which the Windgate Foundation has been a contributor for years.
People also read…
It will also help The Bray increase inclusion, representation, belonging and equity in the ceramics community and support artists of color.
Over the past few years, The Bray has partnered with artists such as:
- Theaster Gates, a socially engaged artist from Chicago whose passion is revitalizing communities through art;
- Cannupa Hanska Luger, an internationally acclaimed Native American artist and 2022 Guggenheim Fellow who creates monumental installations and social collaborations; and
- the innovative Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a Pittsburgh non-profit organization that provides art and music lessons to more than 500 young people each year, as well as thousands of public school students.
“The first gift we received from them (Windgate) was supporting the 60th anniversary event in 2011,” Lee said.
“They were very good at seeing where The Bray was, what the needs were and how we were growing and changing.”
They have provided ongoing grants to support the Artists in Residence program and direct support to artists.
“They also supported the capital campaign,” contributing a $750,000 matching grant to the $6 million capital campaign to redesign North Campus, which included construction of the new Education and Research Center, refurbishment of offices, remodeling of historic pottery, addition of a new sales gallery, new guest artist accommodation, a refurbished exhibition gallery and a permanent display of the collection.
“They’ve been very steady with us, very consistent,” Lee said.
“They have supported us tremendously for our survival during the pandemic. They saw how terrible it was for many of us. They came up with a round of COVID relief grants…which was pretty big.
“We’ve been through some pretty tough times, but backers like Windgate have really helped us stabilize the ship and come out of it in a good position.”
During COVID, the foundation was looking at the long-term stability of important craft organizations, Lee said, and the director reached out to say they were considering an endowment donation for The Bray.
“I honestly didn’t expect a gift of this size to be possible.
“You know there have been positives during the pandemic…and this is one of them.
“The Windgate Foundation is an incredible long-time partner, and we are humbled and extremely grateful for this transformative gift.
Through this endowment, Windgate provides The Bray with both immediate support and long-term stability, he said.
Proceeds from the endowment will only cover a portion of The Bray’s annual needs, Lee said, but “it provides us with a solid foundation from which we can continue to grow and foster opportunities in the ceramic arts. “.
“We are deeply impressed with the work and vision of The Bray,” said Patricia Forgy, executive director of the Windgate Foundation, in a press release. “Our significant investment represents both the confidence we have for the future and a deep belief in the mission and values. We encourage others to join us in supporting this important ceramic arts institution. »
Founded in 1951 by brickmaker Archie Bray, The Bray has gained an international reputation as a center for ceramic arts. Its mission is to strengthen engagement and investment in the ceramic arts.
The 26-acre former brickyard is a gathering place for emerging and professional ceramic artists.
In addition to its international artist-in-residence program, it offers community workshops and classes, curated exhibitions, an on-site and virtual sales gallery, and a ceramics supply store offering “Bray Clay” and technical support to artists from all over the world. .
The Bray is located at 2915 Country Club Ave. For more information, visit https://archiebray.org/.