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SVC Receives Gift of Bennington Center for the Arts

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Southern Vermont College (SVC) is delighted to announce that it has been given the Bennington Center for the Arts (BCA) and a significant portion of the collections it houses. This gift, the largest in SVC’s history, provides a transformative opportunity for new programs to engage students and the community and to increase SVC’s visibility as a critical contributor to Bennington’s cultural renaissance.

The gift of the BCA was spearheaded by its founder, Bruce Laumeister, and his wife and co-founder Elizabeth Small, who were seeking to secure the Center’s future as a regional cultural resource, and has been approved by the full BCA board. “I am delighted to see the transfer of BCA to SVC,” stated Ms. Small, “for I feel with Dr. Evans at the helm they will be able to continue the mission that we set forth for the Center which was to bring world-class art to the residents and visitors of Southern Vermont. With his youth, enthusiasm, commitment to the community, and his love for the arts including theatrical and the Southwest, I have complete confidence that the Center will continue to grow and serve the arts community everywhere.” The BCA will be renamed The Laumeister Art Center at Southern Vermont College in Bruce Laumeister’s honor, and SVC is scheduled to assume full ownership prior to the end of 2017.

The facility, totaling over 36,000 square feet, includes six main galleries, a 315-seat theatre and reception area, offices, meeting rooms, and workshop spaces, as well as a distinctive gallery dedicated to the history and culture of covered bridges in Vermont. The art donation includes a large collection of birds created by master carver and teacher Floyd Scholz, several paintings of covered bridges by well-known American landscape artist Eric Sloane, and numerous works by Charles Pabst focusing on landscapes and Native Americans.

SVC and BCA have enjoyed a long and mutually supportive relationship. During a financially difficult period in the 1980s, Laumeister was the key player in engineering a financial turnaround plan that preserved SVC, and in the years since then BCA has served as host for numerous College events and, for a time, provided additional classroom space for SVC programs.

According to SVC President David R. Evans, a major factor in the gift was SVC’s commitment to maintain the BCA as a cultural and artistic resource for the Bennington community, and to pursue an aggressive new range of programming to bring more visitors to the area. “I am honored and thrilled by Bruce and Elizabeth’s incredible generosity and their confidence in SVC demonstrated by this amazing gift,” President Evans noted. “The opportunities for our students to gain new experiences in the arts and in nonprofit management, and for the College to grow its programming in the arts so vital to the regional economy and to American culture, are almost unlimited. The SVC team is excited to reinforce The Laumeister Art Center’s commitment to excellence and to serving our community as a vital place where people come together to celebrate and enjoy visual and performing arts in a beautiful facility.”

According to President Evans, the College is in the process of integrating BCA’s operations with the main campus and developing a comprehensive plan to take maximum advantage of the opportunities and flexibility provided by the BCA facility.

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