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Springfield Arts Collaborative Announces Major Gift from O'Reilly/Wooten Family

New Plaque Commemorating O'Reilly Family's History At Creamery Arts Center
The new plaque commemorating the O'Reilly family's history at the Creamery Arts Center. (Photo: Randy Stewart)

SCOTT GIFFEN: I think I know most of you that are here... (fades out)

RANDY: What is now the Creamery Arts Center, across the street from Hammons Field on Sherman Parkway, was the location of the original store and distribution center for O’Reilly Automotive from 1957 to 1971. A plaque outside the entrance was unveiled Wednesday (Dec.12) memorializing the O’Reilly family’s role in the building’s history. But there was also an important arts funding announcement, made by Scott Giffen, Executive Vice-President of Springfield Arts Collaborative.

SCOTT GIFFEN: This has been a project that has been undertaken for the last several years. We’ve gathered the most critical needs in the community—specifically related to the arts—and we’ve created a unique model in order to distribute funds that will help us grow and do better art, directly to arts organizations, and to address some of these critical needs that we’ve studied.

RANDY: The Arts Collaborative involves the Springfield Regional Arts Council, the Springfield Symphony, SRO Lyric Theatre, Springfield Ballet, Springfield Little Theatre, as well as at-large community volunteers. Chairing the Leadership Committee is local surgeon Dr. Carl Price.

CARL PRICE: What we’re doing is, we’re setting the foundation for the century, for the arts organizations, for sustainability. And that’s really important for the community, for the enrichment of our lives and our community.

RANDY: The goal of the Collaborative is to grow the endowment funds of the various arts organizations, to increase the percentage of their annual budgets that come from endowments. Currently that figure locally is at TWO PERCENT—the ideal national average is 25%, and that’s the goal, says Scott Giffen. He announced receipt of a major monetary gift toward that goal.

SCOTT GIFFEN: To date, with written and verbal pledges and received funds, we’ve raised a little bit over $6 million for the Springfield Arts Collaborative. An addition to that is an incredible gift from the O’Reilly/Wooten family. They worked together as a family and gave a gift to the Collaborative worth $1.365 million. (Applause) And that really leads us to my announcement for the next 11 months of the campaign. We would like to raise an additional $2 million to match the O’Reilly challenge gift.

RANDY: While not a benefitting partner, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks currently manages and will oversee the received funds. 75 percent of the campaign proceeds will benefit the five arts organizations, with the other 25% earmarked for the “Arts-In-Education Fund,” the Creamery Arts Center Fund, and the Landers Theatre Fund. Representing the O’Reilly family at the unveiling was Rosalie O’Reilly Wooten.

ROSALIE O’REILLY WOOTEN: We’re so happy to see this building preserved and used in a very functional way for the community. And housing the arts in Springfield will be a continuing role that this building plays in our community.

RANDY: Leah Hamilton, Executive Director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council, summed up the importance of healthy endowment funds for the local arts organizations.

LEAH HAMILTON: Two weeks ago I went to three different theater shows, two different Christmas concerts... and I thought, “Wow! This community is very, very rich in the arts.” And how exciting to be able to lay a foundation so that we can make sure that we have arts for our children and our grandchildren and their children. It’s hard to be innovative, because you have to take risks—and taking risks is scary. But hopefully it will always be a fulfilling experience for all of us, and we will reap the benefits.

RANDY: For more information on the Springfield Arts Collaborative, call the Springfield Regional Arts Council at 862-2787 or visit www.springfieldarts.org.