A photo of the ICA at VCU with university branding projected onto walls

$500k gift establishes ICA award for art and education

Pamela Kiecker Royall, Ph.D. pledged $500,000 to the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. This gift was made in remembrance and recognition of her late husband Bill Royall, who was an integral part of VCU for half a century and was dedicated to creating opportunities for both artists and learners. 

With this gift, the ICA has established The Common Prize for Art and Education, a new annual award recognizing artists, collectives, curators, educators and writers whose work centers on contemporary art as a site of learning. The Common Prize will support activities at the intersection of art and education, including public pedagogy through art practice, learning-based community engagement in contemporary art and art and design practices in any medium oriented to educational goals or values.

The ICA at VCU has always been committed to a practice of public study in everything it does. Beyond its work with artists, the ICA at VCU has collaborated with partner organizations to support the educational ecology of its region.

“Contemporary art is an educational practice. Art does not emerge from educational spaces and practices (like a butterfly from a chrysalis); education provides the essential framework for understanding and valuing art,” says Dominic Asmall Willsdon, executive director of the ICA at VCU. “Museums are schools, students are artists, artists are students, art is study.”

The Common Prize will be presented annually, beginning in the fall of 2024, to two practitioners from around the world who are engaging with new and progressive practices that combine contemporary art and education. Awardees will be selected by a rotating international committee. Each recipient of The Common Prize will receive an unrestricted award of $20,000. In addition, recipients will be invited to participate in a short residency in Richmond. Supplementing The Common Prize, the ICA at VCU will also organize an annual symposium and produce a series of publications featuring award recipients and related topics.

A version of this article was previously published by VCU News.

To support the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, visit support.vcu.edu/give/ica.