LAWRENCE — Two gifts for the Lied Center of Kansas will support the center’s Performing Arts Access Expansion program, which aims to increase access to arts programs for Lawrence school district middle- and high-school students.
A lead private gift from the Dolph Simons Jr. family of Lawrence and a lead foundation gift from The Ethel and Raymond F. Rice Foundation of Lawrence, each for $100,000, will give all middle- and high-school students the opportunity to attend free, age-specific, school-only performances curated by the Lied Center.
The Lied Center has provided free, schools-only performances for students in kindergarten through fifth grade for more than 20 years. The center, currently in its 22nd season, has presented more than 62 school-only performances.
“The Rice Foundation is pleased to have been able to make this grant to the Lied Center to start an endowed fund which we believe will be of substantial educational benefit to the youth of our community,” said Peter Curran, president of the Rice Foundation board of trustees.
Dolph Simons Jr. said the center and its programs play an important role in the educational experience for K-12 students in Lawrence.
“This expansion will enrich the lives of many more young people throughout the district, and the Simons family is pleased to be able to help in this effort,” Simons said.
Fundraising efforts continue toward the goal of raising $500,000 for the Performing Arts Access Expansion Endowment by the end of the 2018-2019 season, which marks the Lied Center’s 25th anniversary.
Lied Center executives secured seed funding to start the expanded program in the 2015-2016 season and continue it for five years. The endowment effort works toward raising the funds to continue the expanded program in perpetuity.
“The incredible leadership and vision of both the Simons family and Rice Foundation sets the stage for enabling every single student in Lawrence Public Schools to attend a world-class, age-specific performance for free on an annual basis,” said Derek Kwan, executive director of the Lied Center. “Consistent access to the performing arts leads to higher levels of creativity and achievement, and these gifts will positively impact the youth of our community for generations to come.”
The gifts count toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
Photo: "Out of Bounds" is an upcoming Lied Center event that will include a performance for middle school students. Photo courtesy of the Lied Center.