The Richard and Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center at Ringling College of Art and Design is scheduled to open Dec. 31, 2016. The focus of the facility will be fine arts, including the study of sculpture, glass, wood and clay, and will include exhibition and gallery space as well as the possibility of studios for studies in fiber, jewelry and metal.
It’s the third large bequest to the school from the Basches, who contributed a gift well into the seven figures for capital funds to be used for the renovation of the historic Sarasota High School for the college in the early 2000s. They donated a $5.5 million collection of glass art to the school in 2008.
Originally from Boston, the Basches married in 1964 and moved to Sarasota in 1979. Dr. Richard Basch enjoyed a successful career as a prominent radiologist, and Barbara Basch ran a retail store in Sarasota. In the late 1980s they began collecting ceramics, then glass, which has become their passion. Barbara Basch said, “There’s depth to it, great dimension, and of course color. Nothing shows color like glass. It got us. We were hooked. So we started investigating first American artists, then later artists from all over the world.”
After nearly 20 years of collecting glass art objects, the Basches chose Ringling College as “an ideal environment to house this modern medium.”
“We were just so bowled over by that place, and what [college president Dr.] Larry R. Thompson is doing there as president, that we got very involved,” Barbara Basch said. “His mind is so far reaching. He’s always thinking five years ahead, ten years ahead. There’s a plan that he has in his head for the college, and it came naturally that we suggested that maybe they would want our collection some day.” The Visual Arts Center will also contain both a sculpture and ceramics studio. Ringling College also has begun construction of a new 30,000-square-foot soundstage and post-production facility to expand the depth and breadth of their film program while also attracting professional production opportunities that provide the real-world experience and industry engagement that has enhanced employment prospects for many Ringling graduates. Ringling's Film School has been named to The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 25 Film Schools list three times in the past four years.