Come On In: Another Big Gift for On-Campus Creative Placemaking

As everyone should know, Lubbock, Texas is Buddy Holly's birthplace and the home of the Buddy Holly Center. These two facts should cement the city's reputation as an arts Mecca for perpetuity.

(Buddy Holly fans will also hopefully appreciate the obvious shout-out in this post's title.)

But the city is getting an additional boost thanks to the J.T. & Margaret Talkington Charitable Foundation.

In a move that mirrors similar developments across the higher education space—and we'll provide some corroborating evidence momentarily—the foundation announced a $10 million gift to Lubbock's Texas Tech University supporting academic and research advancements in the College of Visual & Performing Arts and ongoing efforts to enhance the arts.

According to the university, the gift provides critical funding for the expansion and renovation of research and academic facilities at the Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre, and in the process, will transform teaching, research, and performance spaces, and increase the building's footprint and bring together faculty and students in one location for added interdisciplinary opportunities.

Indeed, the gift maps neatly with the "arts-building-as-community-nexus-point" trend we've been seeing over the past year or so. (We also realize the aforementioned trend is rather clumsily named. We'll try and streamline it.)

Talkington's give follows in the footsteps of a $20 million gift, announced in early August, from renowned art dealer and influential contemporary art world figure Margo Leavin to rebuild and expand UCLA's aging graduate art studio facilities. 

And in late June we looked at a $5 million pledge from Chancellor Emeritus Alex Ewing to redefine on the on-campus art experience by renaming the University of North Carolina School of the Arts' largest performance venue.

What's it all mean? Well, when you examine these gifts at a thematic level, it's pretty simple. Donors from all across the country—in fact, you can draw a straight line, east to west, from North Carolina, to Texas, to Los Angeles; nothing's stopping you!—are funding what is essentially creative placemaking at the university level.

The details may vary, but the overarching sentiment is the same. The gifts support—and we're quoting Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors President and CEO Melissa Berman from a previous post on the subject—"the role of art in sustaining a healthy and thriving community." It just so happens that the anchor institution is on a university campus.

And so it should come as no surprise that Texas Tech's Maedgen Theatre building serves as a "cultural gateway for the arts and the Lubbock community," holding performances and offering outreach programs for more than 7,000 patrons each year.

And what about the J.T. & Margaret Talkington Charitable Foundation?

Well, the couple were the founders and owners of Margaret's, a premiere, high fashion store that opened its doors in Lubbock in 1946 when Buddy was a mere 10 years old.

The foundation was established in 1997 to honor the history of the couple's philanthropy and dedication to the city of Lubbock. Through their foundation and personal giving, the Talkingtons have supported multiple initiatives throughout the Texas Tech University System including, among other things, the J.T. & Margaret Talkington Graduate Fellowships.

And as previously noted here on IP, the foundation has also providing funding to the Lubbock-based anti-hunger nonprofit Breedlove Foods.