One of the many ways UCLA contributes to the vitality of Los Angeles is through the arts. In fact, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (SOAA) ranks second in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report, behind Yale. Many SOAA faculty and alumni are well known internationally.
So when alumna and retired art dealer Margo Leavin toured the school's graduate studios in Culver City, she was astonished at the inadequacy of the facilities. Now she has pledged a generous lead gift to help build a complex commensurate with the high caliber of the MFA program and its artists and to inspire others to help, too.
The plan, which was developed in 2011 but never realized because of a lack of funding, involves razing portions of the current structure and refurbishing others. The outcome will be a 75,000-square-foot building with individual studios for at least 45 students, common areas, classroom space, a communal kitchen, a gallery, a garden, and an apartment for visiting artists. Light, airy spaces that inspire individual work, collaboration, and social interaction will replace dark, cramped studios.
Leavin owned one of the most successful contemporary art galleries in Los Angeles for 42 years. She retired in 2013. "I wanted to give back to the city where I achieved business success," says Leavin, a native of New York. "Supporting UCLA's renowned fine arts program is a very effective way to do that."
UCLA plans to break ground for the project in 2017, with completion scheduled for 2019, UCLA's centennial year.
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Jennifer Wells Green
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