Lifetime Achievement Award: The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas

Cathy Owen, Jeane Hamilton & Rachael Reid

Join the Association of Fundraising Professionals Arkansas Chapter on November 16 at the National Philanthropy Day Luncheon and celebrate the collective compassion and dedication of this year’s honorees – individuals, organizations and businesses that are transforming the lives of all Arkansans.

By Barrett Gay | Photography by Sara Reeves

“It is not hyperbole to say that over the past century, The Fine Arts Club has changed the cultural landscape of Arkansas and has added to the economic and cultural vitality of Little Rock and the entire state,” says Arkansas Arts Center Director of Development Kelly Fleming. “From creating physical spaces for art to be admired and practiced, to growing a collection; from creating a volunteer force of nature, to raising millions of dollars with their hard work and bright ideas, their impact in this state cannot be overstated.”

FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY, the Fine Arts Club has worked to celebrate and foster the arts in the state. The renowned Arkansas Arts Center owes its very existence to this faithful auxiliary group. Established in 1914, the club’s tenacious members were visionaries for the Museum of Fine Arts – the state’s first art museum, created in 1937 – as well as its welfare and future. This museum became a part of an expanded facility in 1961, re-named the Arkansas Arts Center.

Jeane Hamilton, former president of the Fine Arts Club Board of Directors and honorary lifetime member of the Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees – whose invaluable contributions include more than 20,000 hours of recorded volunteer time – says, “The organization’s greatest achievement was making sure the dream of an Arkansas Arts Center became a reality.”

THE FINE ARTS CLUB CONTINUES ITS SUPPORT of the Arts Center as a beacon for arts education as well as a catalyst for civic and cultural development across the state. The club’s signature event, Tabriz, generated $800,000 this year — furthering the Arts Center’s integrated approach to art appreciation. Other initiatives include the Vineyard in the Park restaurant and the docent program. “Docents lead tours of the museum for thousands of people each year, expanding the Arkansas Arts Center experience for visitors and often changing the way guests, especially children, view the art,” Kelly explains. “There’s nothing more exciting than to see the parking lot full of school buses and hear the din of children in the galleries.”

Jeane also organized and led the Travelling Seminar Program. For more than 35 years, the program hosted nearly 100 excursions – both domestic and international – including an unprecedented trip to China in 1975 as the first non-official U.S. group granted permission to visit the country.

Kelly notes, “Since the Arkansas Arts Center began recording volunteer hours in a database – less than a third of the years the Fine Arts Club has been in existence – the Fine Arts Club has recorded 88,289 hours.”

CELEBRATING THE CLUB’S LEGACY is important to its current members. “The Arkansas Lifetime Achievement Award is a tremendous honor,” Cathy Owen, a club member and former president, notes. “It is truly a recognition and acknowledgement of the many generations of volunteers who have so graciously given of their time, money and skills to the Fine Arts Club.” Rachael Reid, a member and also a former club president, reflects on her time in the Fine Arts Club with reverence and adoration. “The stewardship, empowerment, generosity and opportunities through serving has not only helped me make an impact with others in our community, but also within myself.”

“Recognizing needs and seeing what I can do to help.” – Jeane

“Arkansas is my home sweet home with an opportunity and need to serve!” – Rachael

“Most people would be surprised to know I have an airplane pilot’s license, enjoy duck hunting and am an alumna of the Air Force War College National Security Forum.” – Cathy

Inviting Arkansas

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