I hope you had a chance to visit the FIA with family and friends over the holidays. We have planned an exciting schedule of exhibitions, programs, and events for the coming year and are doing everything possible to make your visits enjoyable and memorable.
As much as I look forward to 2016, I cannot resist thinking about the accomplishments that you and others like you made possible in 2015. As I go down the list, I realize that unlike highly publicized events such as exhibition openings, fundraisers, and new acquisitions, some of our greatest achievements are not readily apparent and may likely go unnoticed. Not exactly glamorous, they are no less important because they are all crucial to the safety and quality of our visitor's experience.
For instance, routine maintenance of our building, though ongoing, required more effort than usual in 2015. Understandably maintenance projects are not as attractive to sponsors and donors as exhibitions, programs, and events making fundraising to cover these house keeping expenses much more difficult. And, when there are several major projects requiring attention all at once, it is twice as challenging.
In the past year several of these essential projects were funded and work was completed including: 32,000 square feet of new roof; accessibility upgrades (automatic sliding doors and handicap accessible restroom doors); audiovisual equipment in the theater; cost-saving LED replacement of incandescent lighting in galleries; and new audio tour equipment. Additionally, funding was recently secured to implement HVAC environmental control system upgrades, update humidification systems, and secure emergency environmental redundancy within the main collection storage vault—all of which is designed to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for the public and the art collection.
These projects received significant contributions from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Whiting Foundation, Rotary Club of Flint, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Consumers Energy Foundation, the Nelson Fund, Susie Thompson, Howard and Rita Shand, and member contributions.
Another important achievement was the completion of our $10M endowment campaign and the announcement of a new three-tiered $9M campaign to endow the Art School ($4M), exhibitions ($3M), and general operating ($2M). The first tier has already received pledges of major gifts by the Isabel Foundation, William S. White, the Estate of Doris Sutton, and the Charles Stewart Harding Foundation to complete its portion. And, the second tier for exhibition endowment already has lead gifts totaling $325,000 pledged by the Hurand Family and an anonymous donor.
Other noteworthy achievements last year include: offering 209 art classes with an enrollment of 1,580; providing educational programs serving an estimated 40,539 people; and, overall annual attendance exceeding 156,000. Membership reached 3,696 representing 3,003 individuals this year, and 1,492 free college student memberships.
In all, 2015 was an especially good year because of the support we received from so many, and I would like to express our gratitude to those of you whose gifts, over and above membership, made so much possible. I know I speak for the Board of Trustees and the entire staff in expressing our appreciation to all of you for your dedication and support of the Flint Institute of Arts.
John B. Henry