Press Center

Investing in the Arts

October 16, 2014

An alumni couple’s gift contributes to Arts & Minds: Building on Iowa’s Creative Legacy.

For more than seven decades, the West family has supported and serviced music education for countless people of all ages throughout Iowa, the region and internationally. Now, with a recent gift to the University of Iowa, the family is providing crucial support to one of the area’s most ambitious ever arts initiatives.

In spring 2014, Stephen L. “Steve” and Victoria J. West, of Iowa City, Iowa, made a $500,000 gift commitment to support the construction of the replacement Voxman Music Building, which will house the School of Music in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The effort to rebuild the Voxman Music Building is part of Arts & Minds: Building on Iowa’s Creative Legacy, a campaign that also will support replacement facilities for Hancher and the School of Art and Art History. Steve West currently serves as co-chair for Arts & Minds.

Steve West’s father, Pearl West, founded West Music Company—then called Peterson-West Music Company—after graduating from the University of Iowa in 1941. West Music Company has since grown to include more than 180 associates and eight regional locations in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. West Music’s services include retail sales, instrument repair, music lessons for students of all ages and an active music therapy department. West Music also has a national presence supported by multiple ecommerce web sites, as well as catalogue and wholesale divisions that service music educators and musicians.

The West family contributions to music—specifically music education—go well beyond the region, and are measured in more than dollars, says UI School of Music Director David Gier.

“The Wests are not just supporting music education. They’re investing in the cultural life of the region,” says Gier. “Every time I talk to Steve I’m reminded of our broader impact as a school of music, and of the West family’s longstanding devotion to our institution.”

Steve West joined his father in the family business shortly after graduating from the UI in 1969, and he assumed leadership of the company in 1980. He retired as president and assumed his current role as chairman of the board in 2008. Victoria West, who left elementary education after 12 years, headed the human resources department at West Music from 1984 until her retirement in 1999. The couple’s son, Ryan West, currently serves as senior vice president of West Music, continuing the West family’s generations of service to the regional arts scene.

“This community is what it is because of accessibility to the arts,” says Steve West. “All three of the facilities being supported by Arts & Minds will increase that access for University of Iowa students and faculty, as well people throughout the surrounding region.”

Dave Gier says the Voxman Music Building—which will be located downtown Iowa City, the heart of the UI campus—will be a symbol of the UI’s commitment to music education.

“Everything that happens in the building—classes, recitals, capstone work, world-class performances—will reverberate for generations,” says Gier. “People like Steve understand the vast influence of the arts on society, and our place as an educational and cultural resource.”

The School of Music, the School of Art and Art History, and Hancher—all of which lost their buildings in the flood of 2008—will reopen in their new facilities in 2016. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state of Iowa have provided critical funding to replace these facilities. As with all federally funded projects of this kind, the UI must provide a portion of the funding for the project. The $30 million Arts & Minds campaign will provide the private support that will bridge the funding gap and help the UI realize its vision for a revitalized arts campus that will benefit future generations. To learn more about how gifts to Arts & Minds support arts education, programming, and outreach in the University of Iowa community, please visit http://www.foriowa.org/artscampaign/.

About the University of Iowa Foundation

The University of Iowa Foundation’s mission is to advance the University of Iowa and fulfill the aspirations of those it serves. The university’s dedicated contributors fund a broad array of needs, from student scholarships, breakthrough research and life-changing health care to innovative facilities, community outreach and global education.

The UI and UI Foundation are conducting a historic, comprehensive $1.7 billion fundraising campaign, For Iowa. Forever More: The Campaign for the University of Iowa, which will secure the UI’s status as a world-class institution for future generations.

The University of Iowa Foundation is the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the University of Iowa. For more information about the foundation and the campaign, visit the foundation website.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dana Larson, executive director, communications and marketing, the University of Iowa Foundation; 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973; dana.larson@foriowa.org.