Distributed May 2, 2002
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis

Lawton Wehle Fitt ’74 endows an artists-in-residence program

Lawton Wehle Fitt ’74 has given $1 million to Brown University to establish and endow an artists-in-residence program. The endowment will help bring distinguished artists in the fields of creative writing, dance, digital media, film, fine art, music, theater and visual arts to the University each semester.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown alumna Lawton Wehle Fitt ’74 has given $1 million to the University to establish and endow an artists-in-residence program that will bring distinguished artists to Brown each semester, beginning in the 2002-03 academic year.

Through the Lawton Wehle Fitt ’74 Endowment for Artists-in-Residence, the University will invite noted artists in creative writing, dance, digital media, film, fine art, music, theatre, and visual art to the Brown campus for residencies of up to one semester.

“This new artists-in-residence program is designed to enrich the intellectual and academic experience of students and faculty whose principal interest lies in the creative arts,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons, “but it will do far more than that. The presence on campus of artists who have achieved national and international distinction will underscore and enhance the value of the arts in the intellectual and cultural life of the Brown community.”

The chairs and directors of the creative arts departments and programs at Brown may submit proposals for residency by artists of national and international reputation to the Executive Committee of the Creative Arts Council (CAC). The CAC Executive Committee will review each proposal independently and make selections and appointments according to University procedures.

Fitt, a Boston native, lives in London, where she is interested and involved in the fine arts community. A 20-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, where she was named a partner in 1994, she is now a director of NewView Technologies Inc. and serves as vice chairman of the PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York. In meeting with Brown President Ruth J. Simmons early last summer, Fitt expressed her desire to make a major gift to support the University’s academic initiatives. Simmons suggested the creative arts departments could be enriched by providing additional opportunities for successful artists to work closely with Brown students.

“As someone who has shared the benefit of her own professional experience in investment banking and related fields with other Brown alumni in London, Lawton Fitt recognizes the merit of expanding the length and frequency of artists’ visits to campus,” Simmons said.

“It’s quite unusual in the arts to have something like this. I’m personally elated,” said Richard Fishman, chairman of the Department of Visual Art and the CAC Executive Committee. The endowment, he predicted, will enhance the CAC’s own efforts of recent years “to create interconnections between departments and raise the profile of the arts at Brown to a level commensurate with our achievements and with the role we play in the life of students and the Brown community.”

Fishman said the Executive Committee will begin considering proposals this spring and expects to extend its first invitation to prospective artists-in-residence for the fall 2002 semester. The Lawton Wehle Fitt ’74 artists-in-residence will be selected so that each creative arts unit – including the Bell Gallery; Rites and Reason Theatre; and the departments of Creative Writing; Theatre, Speech and Dance; Modern Culture and Media; and Visual Art – will benefit over time. Selection criteria will include reputation, interest in working with students and impact on the program and/or curriculum.

“In some instances the artists will come not only to work with students, but may also give a public lecture that will benefit the community at large,” said Fishman. As many as four artists-in-residence may be selected each year, he added; the length of their stay at Brown may vary from one week to a full semester.