Ulrich Museum seeking donors for bus reimbursement program

Dancers+preform+to+a+rendition+of+The+Beatles+%E2%80%9CBlack+Bird%E2%80%9D+in+front+of+the+Ulrich+Museum+of+Art+at+Wichita+State.+The+dance+was+part+of+the+unveiling+ceremony+of+the+restored+Personnages+Oiseaux+%28Bird+People%29+mural.
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Ulrich Museum seeking donors for bus reimbursement program

Dancers preform to a rendition of The Beatles “Black Bird” in front of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State. The dance was part of the unveiling ceremony of the restored Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People) mural.

Dancers preform to a rendition of The Beatles “Black Bird” in front of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State. The dance was part of the unveiling ceremony of the restored Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People) mural.

Matt Crow

Dancers preform to a rendition of The Beatles “Black Bird” in front of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State. The dance was part of the unveiling ceremony of the restored Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People) mural.

Matt Crow

Matt Crow

Dancers preform to a rendition of The Beatles “Black Bird” in front of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State. The dance was part of the unveiling ceremony of the restored Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People) mural.

With public schools dealing with tight budgets, specifically when it comes to the arts being slashed, schools can no longer afford to take their students to local art museums for visits, Leslie Brothers, director of the Ulrich Museum of Art said.

That’s what the Ulrich’s Bus Reimbursement program is trying to solve.

“It’s the only way to get kids here,” Brothers said. “I don’t know when it happened . . . but public schools just couldn’t really afford to do that anymore. To do field trips, pay for the buses. It’s not just here — it’s all over the country.”

The Ulrich Museum hopes to raise $6,000 to reimburse schools for travel costs to their museum for field trips, making those trips a lot more affordable. But most importantly, it introduces students to the arts, according to Brothers.

“The thing we really dig about it,” Brothers said. “is that a lot of these kids … have never been to campus before. This is their first visit to Wichita State or maybe they’ve been to Shocker games with their parents, probably more likely. So they’ve been to Shocker games but … on the other end of campus is the art museum, so this gives them an opportunity to have that very different, very wonderful, as well, experience.”

“For many of them at the same time, they’ve never been to an art museum before.”

According to Brothers, about 4,000 students from the area benefit from this program.

In a video created to promote the fund, teachers echoed that sentiment.

“It means I can take students who are from a suburban area into Wichita proper and let them see contemporary art,” Bethany Jansen from Maize High School said in the video. “Many of whom have not seen an art museum and most of whom have never seen contemporary artists who are still alive.”

The program began in 1998 with a fund. Eventually, the money ran out and the museum would pay for it out of pocket or from a few different donors, but this year, Brothers decided to create a fundraising campaign to raise awareness for the program.

“What this campaign does, that going to an individual donor, approaching them and asking ‘would you be interested in underwriting a bus reimbursement program?,’ it let’s a whole bunch of people know that this is something that we do,” Brothers said. 

She said she believes someone will eventually come around who wants to fund the entire program, but in the meantime, some donors have been setting up “challenges” for matching campaign gifts.

Vice President of Strategic Communication Lou Heldman and his wife, Terry, were two of those donors who decided to match funds.

“We supported the Ulrich bus program because there’s value in school children getting early exposure to contemporary art in the museum and outdoors in the sculpture collection,” Lou Heldman told The Sunflower in an email. “The visual arts help spur imagination and the development of critical thinking skills.

“It’s also just fun to see sculptures like those of Otterness and Botero.”

With less than two weeks of the campaign remaining, the museum has been able to raise 50% of the funds they need for the year.

You can donate to the campaign here.