In October, University officials announced a $15 million commitment from Keith L. Sachs W’67 and Katherine Sachs CW’69 to establish the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation. Their gift, the largest ever to go towards the arts at Penn, aims to “closely link arts education to the Penn Compact 2020’s goal of advancing innovation across the University,” according to a University press release.
The Sachs name is synonymous with art in Philadelphia. The couple recently exhibited their private collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Keith is a trustee and Katherine is an adjunct curator [“Arts,” July|Aug 2016]. Penn has benefited from over a decade of major gifts from the Sachses, who have facilitated the creation of the Sachs Guest Curator Program at the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Sachs Professorship in Contemporary Art in the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Fine Arts Program Fund and Visiting Professorship in the School of Design. With their new gift, the Sachses wanted to integrate the arts with teaching and research across all of Penn’s schools and centers, according to the University’s announcement.
Katherine Sachs expressed the importance of arts education across campus in the program’s press release, citing the ability of interdisciplinary connections to “foster the creativity and imagination that our students need to become the leaders of an ever-changing world.”
The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation will build on the three-year Arts and Culture Initiative that the provost and the School of Arts and Sciences cosponsored from 2011 to 2014, as well as the work of the Provost’s Art Advisory Council, which was founded in the fall of 2015. Chaired by vice provost for faculty Anita Allen, who is the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and a professor of philosophy, the Art Advisory Council has sought to incorporate art into classroom lectures to promote a more interdisciplinary style of learning. It has also promoted performance-based education by introducing a new dance course in response to student demand.
The Sachs gift will also establish the Sachs Arts Innovation Hub in the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and provide grants of $25,000 to $100,000 for projects that innovate in teaching, support faculty, and engage new arts audiences.
“We believe strongly that the arts are essential to the core mission of education,” Keith Sachs said in a statement. “The very best students seek out a university with a vital arts program. At the same time, the arts are central to advancing key Penn values, such as diversity, innovation, and integrating knowledge.” —Sofia Demopolos C’17