Growing plans: Local institutions look to the future
The five-year-old New Mexico School for the Arts plans to substantially increase its enrollment after it moves to new digs at 500 Montezuma Ave. That address holds the 88,000-square-foot Sanbusco Market Center, which the school’s nonprofit partner, NMSA-Art Institute, recently purchased for $7.3 million. NMSA-Art Institute Board Chairman Ned Bennett (owner of the Zane Bennett Gallery with his wife, Sandy Zane) said, “The acquisition of the Sanbusco complex is the culmination of years of searching for a suitable location for a home for NMSA.” The school’s theater department chairman, Joey Chavez, added that the Sanbusco spaces — which include Cost Plus World Market; the empty Borders bookstore space; and more than a dozen merchants and restaurants — will provide the school with a performance facility and exhibition studios, as well as classrooms.
NMSA opened in 2010 with an enrollment of 138. It now serves 215 teenage students from nearly 40 New Mexico communities, and the school plans to grow to serve 300. A statement from NMSA said the NMSA-Art Institute “has a lot of planning, permitting procedures and fundraising to complete before Sanbusco can be converted into a high school campus, and at this time we do not have a precise schedule of when the Art Institute will transfer ownership to New Mexico School for the Arts.” The organization expects to launch a fundraising campaign in early 2016. A new performing arts/lecture hall is next on St. John’s College’s wish list. The building will probably be sited against the hill adjacent to the Faith and John Gaw Meem Library, but the timing of the construction project is unknown. For now, the college is focused on endowment. “We did a mini-campaign that ended in June,” said Victoria Mora, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “We raised $32.5 million on a $20 million goal. It was a test, in a way, because in the next several years, the whole college — the Annapolis and Santa Fe campuses — will be embarking on a very large, comprehensive campaign.
“The recent campaign in Santa Fe, which was to celebrate our 50th anniversary, was a wonderful opportunity to test whether people, after 2008, were ready to start opening up and giving. We presented it as an opportunity to build endowment. Of the $32.5 million, a little over $22 million went toward that. And I think we’re better than $20 million in cash already. Some of it was pledges, but a good deal of it came in cash.” Mora said the funds came primarily from alumni of St. John’s Santa Fe, but other donors were friends of the college and key alums from the Annapolis campus.
Endowment building will be a key objective of the larger campaign to come. Enrollment saw “a small decline” during the global financial downturn; two important goals today are increasing the school’s visibility and access to financial aid “so that anybody who really wants to be here can come,” Mora said. She added that St. John’s is also prioritizing opportunities for internships, “so that when students do come, they also are exploring career opportunities even as they’re doing this incredibly wonderful, pure form of a liberal-arts education.”
The Lensic Performing Arts Center has nowhere to build additions, but that doesn’t mean capital campaigns are unnecessary. “We are beginning to explore a campaign that will be for our education programs and all of our community programs, but it will also be about preserving the building,” said general manager Bob Martin. The Lensic, a historic landmark, will be eighty-five years old next year. The building is in good shape since a comprehensive, $8 million refurbishing program carried out in 2000 and 2001, but it still needs a lot of attention.
“We usually have to put in over $100,000 every year for improvements and new technology,” Martin said. “It’s about keeping it state of the art and in great shape. In our operating budget every year, a big chunk is for day-to-day operations, and that’s everything from utilities to insurance to upkeep and new equipment. Technology is changing so fast, and when a group comes in, we have to be able to accommodate the light plot they need to put in or what the sound engineer wants. Also, the HD system that we use for The Met: Live in HD has to be upgraded.
“For us, more than dreams of expansion, our capital needs will be focused on the programming we do, having 10,000 kids coming to see the theater, our internship program, and just maintaining the space. We get some support from the city, the [Santa Fe] Arts Commission. We will look for any grants that may be available, but it really will depend on individuals in the community who feel that the Lensic is important enough to maintain.”
Martin said the capital campaign will be for about $6 million, to be raised over five years. — P.W.