Photo by Jack Looney

The Arts Council provides advocacy, advice, and support in the Arts at the University of Virginia.

In 1990, the President’s Council for the Arts was created with Mort Caplin as its chair. The first annual fund grant was made by the Arts Council to the University in 1999 for a studio art building plan. This began as an informal process of contributions from the Arts Council to advance areas of the arts at U.Va. The formal grant process was launched formally in 2003.


The Arts Council provides advocacy, advice, and support in the Arts at the University of Virginia. The Council strives to develop and strengthen the bonds of interest and participation among the Departments and programs of the McIntire Department of Art, the Department of Drama including the Dance Program, Media Studies including the Virginia Film Festival, and McIntire Department of Music; the School of Architecture; the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library and the Music Library; The Fralin Museum of Art; and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection; and their alumni and friends; to advocate on their behalf; to advise and assist with communications; and to help raise funds in support of academic programs, facilities, and special events.

The Arts Council works on Grounds, in the Charlottesville community, and beyond to promote the Arts at the University.

Arts Council members’ advise the University through meetings, focus groups, and through larger discussions on aspects of arts facilities or programs. Between meetings, selected members are called upon on by faculty and administration to serve as arts experts. Direct interaction with deans, arts department chairs, program directors, with artists and patrons are part of this function.

A $2,500 annual contribution to the Annual Fund for the Arts is an expectation of Arts Council membership over and above gifts to other programs at the University to which Council members already contribute. Each Council member is strongly encouraged to make a leadership gift for Arts capital projects, programs, or endowment.

Council Membership

The Council seeks to develop a group experienced with the University’s unique and complex arts environment and who share a vision for the future of the Arts at U.Va. The Council shall have between 30 and 40 members whose interests and experiences span the visual and performing arts, and whose ages, geographic locations, genders, cultures, and ethnicities reflect the diversity of the University’s constituencies and its arts community. Preference in membership will be given to those who have demonstrated significant support for the University and the arts.

There are three categories of members—Active, Emeritus and Ex-Officio.

Active members of the Arts Council are:

  • Volunteers with an expressed and demonstrated interest in the Arts at U.Va.
  • Volunteers sitting on other University advisory boards such as the Board of Visitors, the Campaign Executive Committee, or NCOUR.
  • Up to three University of Virginia students majoring in art, drama, media studies or music are identified by the dean of the College with input from the department chairs are presented to the Nominating Committee. Their role is to provide a student perspective on the U.Va. arts experience.
  • Representatives of other arts related University boards and foundations such as, for example, The Fralin Museum of Art Advisory Board, Charlottesville Symphony Society Board of Directors or Campaign Cabinet, Virginia Film Festival Advisory Board or Council of Friends, Media Studies Advisory Board, School of Architecture Foundation, College Foundation, or the Heritage Repertory Theatre Guild.
  • Elected for a three (3) year renewable term. There is not a limit to the number of renewals.

Emeritus members of the Arts Council:

  • Include former active members of the Arts Council. Emeritus status is conferred at the conclusion of an active member’s term(s).
  • Remain informed and receive invitations to Arts Council meetings, while not under the obligation to attend meetings or contribute to the Annual Fund for the Arts.
  • May serve on Arts Council committees and vote on committee business.

Ex-Officio members of the Arts Council:

  • Are the Vice Provost for the Arts and the Director of the Arts Grounds Campaign who function as the primary staff support for and University liaisons to the Arts Council.
  • Serve on the Executive Committee and may serve on other Arts Council committees but cannot vote on Council or committee business.

Current Members

Honorary Chair
Mortimer M. Caplin (College ’37, Law ’40)

Gretchen Tibbits (College ’89)

Vice Chair
Joan Fry

Thomas Osborne

Student Members
Natalie May
Ty Vanover

Mary Bacon (College, ’83)
Chris Bierly (Commerce ’86)
John Birdsall III (College ’66)
Mary-Scott B. Birdsall (College ’66)
E. Roger Boyle III (College ’64, Law ’67)
A. Cary Brown-Epstein (College ‘84)
Elizabeth Buck, PhD (College ’85)
Edith S. Champ
Ruth C. Cross
Lee Ellen Darden (College ’09)
Margaret Doyle (Psychology ’85)
Chrissy Miller Droessler (Art History ’04)
Gayle Gardner
Elisabeth Giovine (Arch ’93)
Wright Harvey (Econ/Studio Art ’05)
Lex Lindsey (College ’76)
J. Sanford Miller (College ’71)
Jeff Miller (College ’74)
Patty Reid (College ’77)
Joanne Robinson
Emily Robson (Foreign Affairs/Econ ’88)
Matthew Slaats
Stephen P. Smiley (College ’71)
Jesse Spears (College ’09 )
Thomas Stephenson (Darden ’81)
Ashbrooke Tullis (College ’89)
Jim Tune (Foreign Affairs ’64)
Kathy Tune
Laurie Turner (Commerce ’79)
Sonia Webb
Paul Junger Witt (College ’63)


McCailin S WunderAssistant Director
University Arts Development
University of Virginia Advancement
Email | 434.924.1308