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Updated 12:00 PM June 23, 2005
 

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UMS receives $1 million Wallace Foundation Excellence Award

The University Musical Society (UMS) is one of six arts institutions nationally to receive an honor in the inaugural year of the Wallace Foundation Excellence Awards, created to recognize organizations that have expanded arts participation with imaginative efforts to broaden, deepen or diversify their audiences.

The $1 million award, presented at Hill Auditorium June 2, must be matched. It will be used to expand the UMS endowment.

"UMS is proud to be one of only six organizations across the country, and the only university presenter, to receive the Wallace Foundation Excellence Award in its inaugural year," UMS President Kenneth C. Fischer says. "Our relationship with the Wallace Foundation has allowed us to experiment with new ideas and to incorporate community-based partnerships into virtually every facet of the work that we do."

UMS was honored for establishing partnerships with numerous community-based arts organizations and other nonprofits. The partnerships have attracted new audiences to presentations of many of the world's performing arts traditions.

In recent seasons, nearly half of UMS ticket buyers have been first-time attendees.

"This generous award comes at a critical juncture for UMS," says Clayton Wilhite, board member and co-chair of the organization's capital campaign. "We are thrilled to have the support of the Wallace Foundation as we accelerate our $25 million Campaign for UMS, which includes a $10 million endowment goal."

UMS will use the $1 million to expand the endowment to include a fund for continued audience-building initiatives.

The award program requires additional UMS donations to match the grant on at least a one-to-one basis.

"We believe with the University Musical Society that reaching out to new audiences and inspiring our youngest to fall in love with the arts is vital to the health and growth of our society," says Rory MacPherson, senior program officer for the Wallace Foundation.

At the award celebration event, MacPherson presented findings from a study, "Gifts of the Muse: The benefits of arts and how they are created." It showed that giving individuals repeated rewarding experiences with the arts over time is a necessary step before other, more public benefits of the arts can be realized, such as exposure to new perspectives, sharpened learning skills among young people, expanded capacity for empathy, and stronger social bonds in communities.

"We commissioned the 'Gifts of the Muse' study because, after a decade of helping to draw new audiences to the arts and building knowledge about how to do that, we saw a need to better understand why the arts are so important to individuals and communities," MacPherson said.

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