Kirkland Arts Center Receives Largest Donations in 50-Year History

KAC receives $200,000 in donations celebrating its 50 years, including $50,000 from Mayor Joan McBride and family and $125,000 from longtime Kirkland arts supporters Bill and Becky Ballantine.


Several recent donations celebrating its 50 years of enriching Eastside culture have been made to the Kirkland Arts Center, including the single largest one ever as well as one from Kirkland art collector and Mayor Joan McBride.

“Art is important in good times and bad times -- if we can’t express ourselves, we’re in trouble,” said McBride, who with her partner Margaret Meister donated $50,000 in the name of KAC founder and art teacher William Radcliffe and his family. “It’s a way of recognizing 50 years of contributions to art here on the Eastside.”

Founded in 1962 at the historic Peter Kirk Building on Market Street, the center has received a total of $200,000 in recent donations.

Longtime avid supporters and and art collectors Bill and Becky (Leyrer) Ballantine made the largest single donation ever to the KAC -- $125,000 -- through the National Philanthropic Trust.

"Becky and I are both long term residents of Kirkland and have watched the Kirkland Arts Center gain regional and national attention over the past decade,” Bill Ballantine said in a press release. “This is a tough time for all arts organizations and we are delighted to be able to help KAC move forward. Leadership is important for the arts and KAC is very well led today and for the foreseeable future."

Evelyn Bundesmann and Craig Peeper made a $25,000 donation to KAC, allowing the purchase of a new kiln,  “Evelyn,” for KAC. The kiln is a vital piece to the programs and classes offered at KAC each year. About $10,000 of their gift will be used as a match for the upcoming fund-a-need portion of KAC’s annual REDUX auction on Oct. 27.

“I’ve been coming to KAC over the past 14 years,” said Bundesman. “KAC always provides a welcoming and creative community to explore art. My children are now starting to take classes; I want KAC to encourage and allow all children to explore their creativity.”

That donation was made through the Microsoft Technical Recognition Award, given to the Kinect Skeletal Tracking team for its innovative technical achievement.

KAC was founded by a handful of Kirkland citizens passionate about art who banded together to save the landmark Kirk building 50 years ago. One of them was “Bill” Radcliffe, who died at 85 in June of 2011 and also taught at Lake Washington High School. McBride was one of his students, and never forgot what he taught her.

“He was really, really a special man and amazing human being,” said McBride, noting that Radcliffe was also involved in the Cellar Art Gallery downtown before KAC was born. “He believed that everybody in some way had an eye for art, even if it was just appreciating it. It was at a time when I didn’t think I had an eye for much. So the gift is a way for my family to acknowledge all he did for our city and for the arts center.”

The donations will allow KAC to expand its programs and save toward the future.

“This is a proud moment for Kirkland Arts Center,” said KAC Board President Joan Wrench. “Bill and Becky have been strong and passionate arts center supporters with a desire to leave a lasting legacy. This gift does that. We are humbled by their generosity and equally as thankful that Evelyn and Craig chose to designate KAC as the recipient of their award. With Joan and Margaret's leadership gift, we have broken all the records at KAC this year - wow!”


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