Although construction work won’t officially begin for another two weeks, Eastern Illinois University officials attended a celebratory groundbreaking Tuesday heralding the latest expansion of the school’s Tarble Arts Center.
The project, estimated to be completed in nine months, coincides with the 35th anniversary of the art center’s founding.
A 1,500-square-foot addition will provide for a new and larger classroom, a collections viewing lab and another small gallery, said Rehema Barber, director and chief curator. The work is being made possible through a $3 million gift given by the Tarble Foundation, a longtime supporter of the arts at EIU.
“This latest addition to the Tarble’s facilities marks a new chapter in our organization’s history and we’re so grateful that the Tarble Family Foundation has and continues to support our efforts to inspire students of all ages at EIU, within Charleston and beyond,” Barber said.
Nearly half of the Foundation’s gift — $1.3 million – will be used in support of the Tarble Arts Education and Outreach Expansion/Enhancement project, which will nearly double the amount of classroom space available in the arts center. The classroom plays an integral role in hands-on fifth grade and junior/senior high school art enrichment programs available to schools throughout the Tarble’s seven-county service area (Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Clark, Cumberland, Shelby and Moultrie counties, plus the city of Effingham in Effingham County).
The enrichment programs also serve as an initial teaching experience for Eastern’s art education students, an important learning situation before they do their student teaching in the schools.
By moving the classroom elsewhere in the building, the Tarble will be able to transform existing classroom space into an art/collections preparations room and “open” storage lab, where EIU students, local high school students and faculty can use the center’s art collections for study and discussion.
Additional monies from the Tarble Foundation’s gift establish endowed funds that will provide salary and support resources to help administer the new classroom and collections laboratory and insure sustained leadership in the form of a directorship for the Tarble Arts Center.
“We greatly appreciate the continuing generosity of the Tarble Foundation, which supports Newton Tarble’s vision of taking the arts to the people,” said EIU President David M. Glassman. “We’ve enjoyed a long and wonderful relationship with the late Newton and Pat Tarble, and now with their daughter, Jan, who manages the Foundation.”
The $3 million gift brings the total of gifts given by the Newton Tarble family in support of the arts at Eastern to approximately $18 million.
The family’s benevolence began with Newton E. Tarble, an Eastern alumnus and co-founder of Snap-On Tools, and his wife, Louise (“Pat”). The couple initially gave $1 million toward the construction of the $1.4 million center that opened in 1982.
Newton Tarble’s mission for the arts center was three-fold: to showcase arts created within the university by students and faculty; to bring arts in from outside the university; and to take the arts out to the greater community to be created and exhibited in schools, libraries and other spaces open to the public through east central Illinois. Having grown up in rural Clark County, he was aware of this geographical area being underserved by the arts and artists readily accessible to residents of more urban areas, such as Chicago, Detroit and the Los Angeles areas where he spent his adult life.
Following her husband’s death, Mrs. Tarble continued to support the arts center, including another $2 million in 2000 to assist with the building’s expansion project. The couple’s daughter, Jan Tarble, established the Excellence in Fine Arts fund in 1986. That fund, since its inception, has provided full scholarships for dozens of students majoring in art, music and theatre arts at EIU.
The Tarble Arts Center, a division of Eastern’s College of Arts and Humanities, is a major cultural arts resource for east central Illinois and EIU. It remains the only facility on the university campus built entirely through donated funds, and is accredited by the American Association of Museums.
“This addition will greatly enhance the Tarble Arts Center’s ability to fulfill its mission as a dynamic arts resource for EIU students and faculty, teachers in our area schools and the surrounding community,” said Anita Shelton, interim dean of EIU’s College of Arts and Humanities. “We are looking forward to the new opportunities it will bring and are very grateful to the Table Family Foundation for making it possible.”