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CAM Announces $12 Million Campaign To Strengthen Endowment And Outreach

The Contemporary Art Museum hopes to raise $12 million in its latest fundraising campaign. The money would support the museum's endowment, capital improvements and educational programs.
Helene Binet | Contemporary Art Museum

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis plans to secure its long-term future, boost artist support and add services through a $12 million fundraising campaign.

The fundraising initiative already has raised $9.7 million from large donations, including $5 million from Emily Rauh Pulitzer.

Other notable contributors include the Centene Charitable Foundation, the Neidorff Challenge and philanthropists John and Alison Ferring.

The organization began planning the effort three years ago to support its recent growth, CAM Executive Director Lisa Melandri said.

“We realized that we wanted to be able to accommodate all of the requests and all of the visitorship that has come to us,” Melandri said. “One way to do that as we prioritize accessibility and this incredible increase in audience is to be able to have the resources to properly accommodate them.”

The museum aims to direct $10 million to its endowment, $1 million for capital improvements and $1 million for an innovation fund.

Melandri said the innovation fund will allow CAM to expand existing educational programs at the museum, including the ArtReach program, which offers art education programs and matches its teaching artists with St. Louis Public School students.

Melandri said CAM needs the additional resources to provide opportunities to other schools in the region and increase the hours artists spend in classrooms.

“We have not had either the human resources or the financial resources to be able to do that,” Melandri said. “More than the model of ArtReach necessarily changing, I think what’s going to happen then is we’re going to be able to accomodate the scaling of a lot of these projects into different schools and for different communities.”

The fundraising campaign comes about one month after the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded CAM $193,753 to expand the ArtReach program. That grant will be distributed over three years to the museum to help hire more teaching artists.

Melandri said the federal grant and the new fundraising goals will allow the institution to collaborate more with other community institutions.

Boosting the capital improvement fund would help CAM improve its climate control and security systems and make the building more energy efficient.

CAM officials said raising the museum’s endowment to $15 million would better match the efforts of mid-tier institutions around the nation.

Melandri said she hopes the museum will reach its endowment goal within the next year through large and small donations.

“We would love to think about the next year from the launch of going public as a space in which we can certainly make our endowment goal and then look toward both the innovation fund and the capital improvement fund,” Melandri said. 

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Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.