Patricia Mathu
Mercury Staff

$250K donation establishes three-year program to sponsor UTD art installations at Eisemann Center

Two North Texas philanthropists donated $250,000 in early March to bring UTD art to the Richardson community through the creation of the Eisemann Edge Endowment Fund.

Ann and Charles Eisemann have directed their philanthropy towards many aspects of the art scene in Richardson over the years. ATEC Dean Anne Balsamo said the quarter million-dollar donation will allow an ATEC faculty member to create annual installations from 2020 to 2022 at the Eisemann Center, an arts hub in downtown Richardson.

“We have to ask ourselves — where are the most creative people in the Southwest?” Charles Eisemann said. “Those people are at UTD. (The) incoming crop of freshman is the best and the brightest. Every year, the arts are going to change because these people show up and they have new ideas about arts and technology.”

The Eisemann Edge Endowment Fund will support Andrew Scott, an associate professor and visual artist, whose projection art caught the attention of the Eisemann Center, Balsamo said. He will work with students in ATEC’s 3D studio to create installations that will explore the intersection of arts and technology.

“I’m filling up notebooks with ideas that we can do,” Scott said. “It is a wonderful challenge and a wonderful opportunity to do what excites me most every day when I come to work — engage my students.”

Scott said he does not know exactly where the arts scene in Richardson is heading but that he is grateful for the patronage to pursue something larger than himself.

“I’m not being cheeky when I say I don’t know where it is going to end up. This is something that is evolving,” Scott said. “What I can say is that I am going to enjoy the ride and the journey. I have every confidence that it is going to be great because of the people that are involved.”

Balsamo said she is optimistic about the potential of the Eisemann Edge Endowment Fund as a means to raise awareness about contemporary forms of art.

“You have to cultivate that type of awareness. We do have some super interesting art venues and interesting contemporary art in Dallas, but they tend to be art coming from elsewhere, not art that is coming from and emerging from our region,” Balsamo said. “This gives us the opportunity to organically grow an interest and appreciation in emerging art forms to show what is out there in the world but also see what is possible to create, here in our area, in the Metroplex.”

Charles Eisemann said he does not make this type of donation often. He said the recent strength of the American economy was a catalyst for the donation to establish the program.

“Arts is the first to go when you cut back economically,” he said. “It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. A positive economy was important to us.”

Though the donation supports a three-year program, Eisemann said he is thinking long-term.

“Arts are everywhere in the world,” he said. “I like to see people come together, so I’m not just thinking Richardson. I’m thinking the U.S. and the world. We want to set something going here that is going to live on for a very long time, being refreshed every year to reflect the fine arts that we have.”