- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Two Koch family foundations are making a $10.5 million donation in land and money to provide a new home for the Wichita Center for the Arts.

A 38,000-square-foot center is planned for 17 acres of vacant land, valued at $4.5 million, that is being donated by the Charles Koch Foundation. The Fred and Mary Koch Foundation is giving $2 million and will have another $4 million challenge grant, The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1UVatGL ). The project, without the land, is valued at $14 million.

Liz Koch, an honorary trustee for the arts center, says the donation honors her mother-in-law, Mary Koch, who died in 1990.

“She was so passionate about it,” said Liz Koch. “We’re looking . down the barrel of old age ourselves, and I would still like to thank her for all the things she contributed to the city. We’re going to do something that’s really great to honor (Charles’) mother, and we both feel really good about that.”

Liz Koch said the current art center’s home of 50 years is suffering from deferred maintenance and it would cost nearly the same to renovate it as to build a new center.

The new center will include an art education area, a gallery for teaching exhibits and national exhibits, an events center and a catering kitchen, said David Riffel, a partner at Howard & Helmer Architecture, the project’s architect. It also will have an outdoor plaza with a sculpture garden.

Riffel said construction should begin in late 2016 and be finished by late 2017 or early 2018.

Liz Koch said the center will be an arts school, with juried art shows, but it will not include a theater.

“We will probably give up on theater since it has been the thing that has most buried us financially through the years,” Koch said. “We’re looking at teaching and creating art. It will be more modern and younger.”


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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