Colton pledges gift for Gunnery arts, community center
The Gunnery, a private school in Washington, has announced Richard C. Colton Jr. has committed to a multimillion-dollar leadership gift for the school in support of the new Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center.
The gift has been specifically designated to name the center’s new Richard C. Colton Jr. Visual Arts Wing.
This is the third substantial leadership gift The Gunnery has announced in connection with the new, 32,000-square-foot arts and community center, which is the largest capital project the school has ever undertaken.
As conceptualized and designed, the center will include a 415-seat theater that will accommodate the school community and guests, along with classroom and studio spaces for graphic and digital arts, drawing, painting, ceramics and photography, instrumental and choral rehearsal spaces, and gallery spaces to showcase the work of student and guest artists.
Colton, of the class of 1960 and a leading philanthropist in New Orleans, as well as an avid art collector and patron of the arts, has been a consistent supporter of the school and was a member of The Gunnery’s board of trustees from 2007-13.
“I am very pleased to support the new arts and community center by making this pledge for a new visual arts wing,” Colton said. “The Gunnery is very close to my heart, and the cultural enrichment of the students is a priority to me.
“It is my hope that the artwork exhibited there will connect with the students as emerging citizens of the world, and provide an excellent basis for courses of study across the curriculum in history, geography, science and the arts,” Colton said.
A graduate of Washington and Lee University, Colton has a lengthy resume of diverse accomplishments, personal and professional, over the course of five decades.
He began his career at the Lykes Bros. Steamship Co. in 1976, working in the Seabee division and serving as vice president from 1988-97.
In the late 1990s, he founded the Howell Co., a private investment group specializing in start-up companies for women.
In 2003, Colton produced James Farwell’s “The Murder Game,” a murder-mystery play set in New Orleans, which opened in London’s West End.
Three years later, he was the executive producer of “Katrina’s Children,” a documentary that was released by Shadow Pictures and focused on the
impact of Hurricane Katrina from the point of view of 19 children ages 5 to 16.
Colton owns thoroughbreds, which he races in New Orleans, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Kentucky.
He is a member of the advisory board of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
He has served on the boards of Lykes Bros. Inc., Sweet Briar College, Xavier University Preparatory School, Friends of the Stables in Audubon Park, New Orleans Museum of Art, Friends of the Vatican Pavilion of the South and Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.
“We are exceedingly grateful to Dick Colton for his steadfast generosity to the school community and to the arts in particular,” said Head of School Peter Becker.
“The arts and community center is a thrilling project for the school, one that will realize a first, vital step in Phase I of our Campus Master Plan,” Becker said. “We are excited about the opportunities this center will provide for our students and community, and in particular the inclusion of a modern gallery and studio space for the visual arts, which Dick’s gift will provide.”
In addition to the commitment from Colton, The Gunnery has in the last several months announced a $10 million gift to the school from alumni Jonathan Tisch, class of 1972, and Steven Tisch, class of 1967, which is designated to the new arts and community center, as well as to the school’s endowment.
In September, a multimillion-dollar leadership gift was committed by the Thomas S. Perakos Family Cares Foundation, which has been specifically designated to name the new Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center in honor of alumnus Thomas S. Perakos, class of 1969.
Construction of the new arts and community center is expected to begin next summer.