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EIU Media Relations

Tarble Foundation Donates Additional $3 Million for Arts Center Expansion, Support


Jan Tarble and EIU President Bill Perry

The Tarble Foundation, a longtime supporter of the arts at Eastern Illinois University, has given another $3 million that will, in part, help in the further expansion/renovation of the institution’s Tarble Arts Center.

More than a third of the gift -- $1.2 million – will be used in support of the proposed 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 the 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 the existing classroom space into an Open Collections Learning Laboratory where EIU students, local high school students and faculty can use the center’s art collections for study and discussion.

An additional $800,000 of the Tarble Foundation’s gift establishes an endowed fund that will provide salary and support resources to help administer the new classroom and collections laboratory.

The remaining $1 million was given to insure sustained leadership for the Tarble Arts Center by establishing an endowed directorship.

“We are very thankful for the generosity of the Tarble Foundation, which continues to support Newton Tarble’s vision of taking the arts to the people,” said EIU President Bill Perry.  “We’ve enjoyed a wonderful, warm relationship with the late Newton and Pat Tarble, and now with their daughter, Jan, who continues to manage the Foundation.”

Michael Watts, who has served as director of the Tarble Arts Center since 1986, also expressed his appreciation for the Tarbles’ support.

“Eastern Illinois University’s many constituents are incredibly fortunate for the sustained and most generous support that has been bestowed by the Newton E. Tarble family,” he said.  “Our charge is to continue to provide and expand upon the many programs and services that this support makes possible in our ongoing mission ‘to take the arts to the people,” established with Newton Tarble nearly 40 years ago.”

The recent 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 exhibited and performed 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.



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Josh Reinhart, Public Information Coordinator

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Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
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