Financial aid and scholarships

She knew the struggle of artists. Now she’s left $2.9 million for UCLA scholarships

At a time when universities and arts organizations across the U.S. are struggling with dwindling donations, the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture has received $2.9 million from the late artist and philanthropist Elaine Krown Klein.

The gift, the university announced Wednesday, will go toward the Elaine Krown Klein Fine Arts Scholarship Fund. Klein, who died Jan. 5, and her late husband, Leo Klein, established the fund in 1986. Students at the university’s Herb Alpert School of Music will benefit from the funds as well.

“Elaine has been so generous for so many years and has had such an impact on so many students across all the creative fields,” Brett Steele, dean of the arts and architecture school, said in an interview. “[Her gift] makes it possible for students who couldn’t otherwise attend a school like ours to join a group of colleagues and peers and esteemed faculty and have that as their formative experience in the arts. And it’s important for the school. It adds diversity of voices and experiences within these programs.”

UCLA began awarding scholarships from the fund, now valued at more than $4 million, in 1989. It has supported more than 200 young artists, musicians, dancers, architects and designers, including dancer-choreographer Kevin Williamson and artists Meleko Mokgosi and Shana Lutker.

Anderson added: “It was deeply affirming to have her support during my graduate studies at UCLA, and I’m certain I would not have found success without the kindness and generosity of Elaine and donors like her, who know the value of cultural production and ensure its sustained vitality.”

The gift comes at a critical time. The pandemic-induced economic downturn may mean a reduction in state funding for the UC system, Steele said. Recent polls of university fundraisers nationally have suggested a 20% drop in philanthropy this year, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s editor, Stacy Palmer.

“A gift like this is so important for now, a moment when the arts face such tremendous challenges throughout the country and around the world,” Steele said. “It shows a profound belief in the arts going forward, and in artists of all kinds not just helping us see the world as it is but imagining what the future can be.”

Krown Klein established the Leo M. Klein and Elaine Krown Klein Chair in Performance Studies in UCLA’s Herb Alpert School in 2015, a gesture that Dean Eileen Strempel said in a statement “has molded the lives of hundreds of young musicians at a time when they need the financial and emotional support most.”