SFA Friends of the Visual Arts (FVA) is raising monetary funds to help staff members of the Cole Arts Center in Downtown Nacogdoches after recent budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The College of Fine Arts made the decision of cutting $20 million out of its budget. The choice was made because there is no teaching, credit hours or faculty within the center, according to the Dean of the College of Fine Arts Dr. A.C “Buddy” Himes.       

“After hearing the news of budget cuts, the discussion then opened for Friends of the Visual Arts if we could help raise those salaries,” Julie Shackelford, president of Friends of the Visual Arts, said. “But, as SFA continued their discussion, they came to the conclusion [that] they really need[ed] to make some cuts somewhere, and they could only continue with the director position.”

After that, FVA started planning and putting together fundraisers called Save the Cole Arts Campaign. They received a big response after advertising on Facebook. FVA also encourages SFA students to spread the word about the Cole Arts Center to keep its legacy going and try to help in any way they can.

SFA has no plans on shutting down the center, but FVA believes that cutting positions is crucial for the center to stay open.

Staff will potentially lose their job Sept. 30, and FVA is trying their hardest to save what they can. They have multiple fundraisers currently going on. This week they are having a raffle for a piece that was donated by Nacogdoches artist and SFA School of Art alumna Mandy Marshall. The raffle will go through Sept. 15, and anyone who donates $250 or more will be entered in the drawing.

Last week, FVA made their first goal of $10,000 to the Save the Cole Arts Campaign. They especially thank Danny and Shannon Mounger and the Laird Funeral Home for their gifts because FVA now has enough funds to support the Gallery Director’s position for one year.

Art Center Director John Handley believes the art is important for SFA students and the Nacogdoches community.

"The Cole Art Center has a history of exhibiting local artists and working with local art groups,” Handley said.

If you would like to donate, please visit sfasu.edu/givecoleartcenter and use the hashtag #SaveTheCole to raise awareness.

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