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Arts and Sciences receives $6M donation

Courtesy of Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences

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Ohio State alumnus Lawrence Barnett donated $6 million to the College of Arts and Sciences Tuesday to establish a new arts center and support Sullivant Hall renovations.

Barnett’s donation will be used to create the Lawrence and Isabel Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise, which will house a conference room and the Barnett Theatre, according to an OSU press release.

A portion of the donation will also go toward continuing extensive renovations of Sullivant Hall. When the building is complete, it will house the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and the departments of dance and art education in the College of Arts and Sciences. The updated music hall will also include the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design, according to the press release.

Mark Shanda, professor of theatre and divisional dean of arts and humanities, said the new theatre will have a flexible and contemporary design.

New performance spaces and renovations will not be the only things that will benefit from the donation.

Because of Barnett’s background in the business side of art and entertainment, this will to be a large focus of his namesake center.

The donation will also benefit an outreach program for art students.

OSU hopes to create partnerships with local art communities outside the university through internships, Shanda said.

Some students are looking forward to opportunities that will be made available through the partnerships.

President E. Gordon Gee thanked the Barnetts for their donation.

“I am deeply grateful to Larry and Isabel for their extraordinary commitment,” Gee said in the press release. “Thanks to the remarkable foresight and generosity of Larry and Isabel, our students, faculty, and staff are able to pursue excellence in all manners of the arts and human expression.”

Genevieve Simon, a second-year in theatre, said there needs to be balance between arts and sciences.

“Typically (business) isn’t made a point,” Simon said. “But students are thinking about their future.”

Simon said she hopes the donation will give the arts a bigger presence on campus.

Jenny Kornswiet, vice president of Dance Connection, said she agrees an emphasis should be placed on the arts.

“With elementary schools cutting back arts programs, it helps that it is kept alive in college,” Kornswiet said.

The Barnett family has supported OSU in the past through initiatives such as “the Barnett Fellowship for graduate students in Art Education, the biennial Barnett Arts and Public Policy Symposium, and the Barnett Distinguished Visiting Lecturers Series,” according to the OSU press release.

Lawrence attended OSU in the 1930s and dropped out one quarter short of graduating due to illness. While recovering, he took a job with the Columbia Broadcasting System Artist Bureau, and moved to California as a booking agent. He later became president of the Music Corporation of America and chairman and president of General Artists Corporation, along with holding esteemed positions with various other companies, according to the press release.

After retirement, Lawrence sought to finish his degree at OSU, and earned a Bachelor of Science in 1988 from the Fisher College of Business. He later received an honorary doctorate from OSU for his work in the entertainment world and the business world, according to the press release.

“Getting my degree from Ohio State was a key to my success,” Barnett said in the press release. “And it is particularly meaningful to help today’s students develop into professional artists as well as businesspeople in the arts. We are so proud of the meaningful careers our graduates have established. It’s an honor to broaden our involvement and hope that many more people will decide to support the arts.”

Amy Murray, OSU spokeswoman, said Barnett was unable to comment further.

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