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My Town Kalamazoo: $2 million gift means upgrades, scholarships for art school | Arts & Culture

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My Town Kalamazoo: $2 million gift means upgrades, scholarships for art school
My Town Kalamazoo: $2 million gift means upgrades, scholarships for art school

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Studio upgrades and a new series of scholarships are coming to the Kirk Newman Art School, thanks to a $2 million gift from a Kalamazoo couple.

Rosemary and John Brown announced their donation to the school during a reception at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts earlier this month.  Kirk Newman, who was a longtime director of the art school, was in attendance.

"Our decision to give to the Kirk Newman Art School at the KIA is based on our admiration of Kirk as a person and on our desire to validate his legacy," said Rosemary Brown. "Our hope is that the school will continue to thrive and to have an ongoing positive influence on the cultural life of the Kalamazoo area."

Painting instructor Denise Lisiecki says the gift will be used to offer more access to first-time students. The KIA currently provides nearly $40,000 in scholarships to 200 students.  The gift will add up to 150 scholarship opportunities for students based on merit and financial need. Additional financial support will be awarded to teachers for summer art classes.  The KIA hopes to expand both scholarship programs next year.

"Every term, we hear gratitude from students for what we do," said Lisiecki. "We hear thanks for a new technique, or a creative breakthrough, or for helping deal with grief or stress. At the least, we help people reconnect with their creativity. This gift from Rosemary and John means we can continue to do that, to serve our community, and enrich it for the future."