Koch Industries’ longtime support of the arts in its headquarters city, Wichita, Kansas, is helping people discover and apply their artistic talents and also preserve works of art to create value for entire communities.
One initiative is Koch’s efforts to expand the reach and offerings of the Mary R. Koch Arts Center, or Mark Arts, founded more than 100 years ago as the Wichita Art Association. The organization opened a new facility in 2018, making classes more accessible for the public to learn about painting, sculpting, culinary arts, student STEAM programs and more.
“You walk in here and it’s competitive with any of the fine galleries elsewhere, but we’re not just a gallery; there’s a huge education aspect,” says Mark Arts board member Katharine Elder. “The mission is twofold to both engender appreciation for the arts, but also to provide really excellent teaching.”
Another artistic landmark supported by Koch is the Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House. The home, completed in 1918, is the last prairie house designed by the iconic architect. In the past year alone, it has attracted tourists from 24 countries to Wichita, Kansas.
“Our goal was that the world would be able to see the Allen House. And with the support of the Koch Family Foundation, that’s been made possible,” says Amy Reep, executive director of the Allen House Foundation.
In addition to these partnerships, Koch is making further investments for the future. The Koch Cultural Trust has awarded $2 million in grants to more than 900 Kansas-based painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers and other performing artists.
Ernest Vincent Wood III is a past recipient who went on to earn second place in The Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition. The painting was later sold in auction at Sotheby’s.
Ernest credits the Koch Cultural Trust with changing the trajectory of his career. “It set a course for the rest of my life as a painter because I was able to begin creating work after work and just growing exponentially.”
See more about Koch’s support for the arts in the latest episode of The Picture, a Koch Industries Spotlight Series. All episodes are available to watch at KochICT.com.