On Wednesday, November 29, 2023, Ringling College of Art and Design announced the public launch of their comprehensive fundraising campaign: Catalyst for Creativity. The College’s Office for Advancement has been in the silent phase of the campaign, raising over $127 million of a $175 million goal.
During a private cocktail reception, Ringling College’s top donors, supporters, and friends gathered on campus to celebrate the campaign’s success and learn more about what the future will hold at the preeminent art and design institution.
The Catalyst for Creativity campaign has been underway since 2018 and includes three institutional priorities: supporting students and faculty, growing facilities, and expanding community programs. Ringling College has raised over $127 million in the silent phase of the campaign. Vice President for Advancement Sara Curtis Robinson will lead the campaign through to meeting its goal of $175 million.
“This is an exciting time for Ringling College of Art and Design as we undertake a historic expansion campaign that touches every aspect of the College,” said Robinson. “Under the visionary leadership of Dr. Larry Thompson, Ringling College has become one of the premiere art and design colleges worldwide and a cornerstone of the Greater Sarasota community. From award-winning academic programs to community institutions like Sarasota Art Museum, TOWN HALL Lecture Series, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Ringling College is at the heart of our arts and culture landscape here in Sarasota. I am thrilled to be part of the talented team of faculty, staff, and volunteer leaders who have come together to implement the Catalyst for Creativity campaign to provide financial resources for the future of this remarkable institution.”
Over the past 25 years with Dr. Larry R. Thompson serving as president, Ringling College has continued to grow and thrive. The campaign is aligned in both timing and ethos with a newly revised Strategic Plan, including updated Vision and Mission statements. The comprehensive campaign is structured around three main pillars, all sharing equal importance and weight:
Building Creativity, Igniting Creativity, and Connecting Creativity.
“We are at a pivotal moment in the history of Ringling College of Art and Design, where we must grow to accommodate the needs of our campus and community,” explained Ali Bahaj, Ringling College Trustee and Chair of the Catalyst for Creativity Campaign Committee. “With the highest enrollment ever, now is the time to build a Signature Academic Center on the corner of North Tamiami Trail and MLK Way. This iconic building will meet the needs of our award-winning digital academic programs and provide a gateway to our campus and community. I am proud to support the Catalyst for Creativity campaign. This campaign will provide important resources for Ringling College to continue to enrich our community and support our students for years to come.”
Building Creativity refers to the expansion and upkeep of state-of-the-art facilities and technology on campus. One building in particular, currently called the Signature Academic Building, will be located on the corner of N. Tamiami Trail and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way—the entrance to the campus. This new building will be uniquely positioned to welcome visitors along one of the most prominent highway stretches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, serving as an entry point to the College and standing as an iconic signifier of the cultural hub that is Sarasota. The Signature Academic Building plans to house a Campus Welcome Center; a dedicated gallery space for the art glass collection of Dr. Richard and Barbara Basch; event and multi-purpose spaces; and academic studios and labs for four of the College’s high-tech majors: Computer Animation, Entertainment Design, Game Art, and Virtual Reality Development. Plans for the building have been approved and construction is slated to begin in April 2024.
Igniting Creativity is all about student and faculty support. Integral to Ringling College’s mission is attracting diverse students and faculty members who possess an array of perspectives, experience, and talent that is essential to the vibrancy of Ringling College. Strategic and sustained outreach and ongoing funding are required to support students through the entirety of their college years, as well as the faculty and their professional development. Key investment components include student scholarships, DEI programming and initiatives, endowed faculty positions, and a new Center for Teaching Excellence.
The Connecting Creativity facet of the campaign is focused on engaging the local community. Sarasota has long been a place for culture and the arts to flourish, attracting some of the world’s most exciting international artists, thought leaders, and authors to share their work and perspectives. Through more than 100 programs offered annually, Ringling College provides opportunities for students, and for roughly 100,000 local residents and visitors from around the globe to gather, learn, and experience the power of creativity. Ringling College’s organizations supported by this campaign include Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art and Design; Ringling College’s Campus Galleries and Exhibitions; the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Ringling College; Ringling College Library Association’s TOWN HALL Lecture Series; and Englewood Art Center.
“I believe we have something truly unique at Ringling College,” shared Dr. Thompson. “For many years now we have had the privilege of being an institution that has helped to provide creative resources for this community and helped shape it into what it is today. As a corollary, it’s the people in this community who have, in turn, been instrumental in our sustained growth and success.”
“Ringling College’s mission is to educate our students, our community, and the world to understand art and creativity as essential dimensions to life. I have always said that creativity should be tangible and produce real and actual results. Meeting this campaign goal will help us continue to spark creativity in our students, community, and beyond for decades to come.”
We invite everyone in our community to be a Catalyst for Creativity.
For more information about the Catalyst for Creativity campaign, please visit our Campaign webpage.