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Penland Doubles Endowment, Adds 38 New Scholarships for Artists

“I feel as though I have a wealth of new knowledge to take home with me,” said Penland School of Crafts student Margaret Lindsay Barrick. “My time at Penland has reinforced my lifelong dream of becoming a working artist and has given me the courage to pursue that goal with fresh, renewed vigor.” Margaret received a scholarship from Penland to take a painting workshop at the North Carolina school in the summer of 2013. That workshop took place in a makeshift studio carved out of a building that had once been Penland’s woodshop. When Margaret comes back to the school for another workshop, she’ll find a beautiful new painting and drawing studio with lots of natural light, flexible work-spaces, and an up-to-date ventilation system. This studio was built with funds from Penland’s ongoing Campaign for Penland’s Future.

Launched in 2010, this five-year, thirty-million-dollar campaign was designed to strengthen Penland’s educational programs by improving its studios, housing, and other facilities; rehabilitating historic buildings; increasing program and scholarship endowments; and establishing an elevated, sustainable goal for the annual fund. The campaign total currently stands at just over $29,000,000, representing 97 percent of the campaign goal. 

“This level of support is unprecedented in Penland’s 86-year history,” says Penland’s director, Jean McLaughlin. “People come here from all over the world for new ideas, new skills, and remarkable educational experiences. This campaign is creating improved facilities that will elevate the student experience and financial stability that will help Penland transform lives for generations to come. So many people love this school and want it to have a sustainable future.”

 More than 2000 individuals and 200 organizations have contributed to campaign projects, which are being launched as funds come in.  Students are currently living in two new housing buildings and using new outdoor work spaces at the clay and metals studios funded by campaign donations. The Pines—which includes Penland’s dining hall and kitchen—has been fully renovated. The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center is currently under renovation. Drawing, painting, and book arts workshops are taking place in beautiful new studios. A major information technology upgrade (partially supported by a rural broadband project funded by the USDA) has recently brought high-speed Internet access to all parts of the campus. And campaign fundraising is ongoing for several other infrastructure projects that will begin as soon as funding is complete.

Penland’s endowment has grown from $8.6 million to $17 million, including support for thirty-eight new scholarships and endowments that ensure the long-term future of Penland’s resident artist and core fellowship programs. A further goal of the campaign was to increase unrestricted annual giving from $500,000 to a sustainable $650,000 annually. Penland has met or exceeded this target for the past three years.

While the campaign is not quite complete, its impact on individual lives is already clear. “Without the incredibly generous support of this scholarship, I would never have been able to experience this wonderful place,” wrote Victoria Buchler, a ceramics student who received a scholarship from a campaign endowment. “It is incredibly empowering to be immersed in a community of makers, many of whom have dedicated their lives to their craft,” she continued. “Outside of Penland, being an artist can make you the ‘other,’ but here I have been able to refill my wells of confidence and creativity, preparing me to move forward with my art career.”

Detailed information about the Campaign for Penland’s Future, including stories of how the campaign is benefitting Penland’s programs and the lives of individual artists, is available at penland.org/campaign.

Penland School of Crafts is an international center for craft education dedicated to helping people live creative lives. Located in Western North Carolina, Penland offers workshops in books and paper, clay, drawing and painting, glass, iron, metals, printmaking and letterpress, photography, textiles, and wood. The school also sponsors artists’ residencies, an outreach program, and a gallery and visitors center. Penland is a nonprofit, tax-exempt institution which receives support from the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.