Expanding her longstanding support of the arts at UCLA, visual artist and philanthropist Elaine Krown Klein has made a $2 million gift to establish the Leo M. Klein and Elaine Krown Klein Chair in Performance Studies in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s department of music to honor her late husband, Leo M. Klein.
The permanent endowed chair — the first in the history of the music department — will support a distinguished faculty member who is not only an accomplished researcher and musician but who also has demonstrated excellence in teaching and mentoring students.
In addition, the Klein chair will support live performance, research, festivals, recordings, conferences, touring, multimedia collaborations and other schoolwide initiatives that integrate performance and scholarship. It will increase the prestige of a program that is already internationally significant and burnish the department’s reputation as an innovative center for the training of the thinking musician.
This gift has special significance for Krown Klein.
“I wanted to establish something in memory of my husband,” she said. “Leo loved music so much. Over the years, we enjoyed many wonderful performances together at the school and had the great fortune to be exposed to countless music students of extraordinary talent and promise. I thought establishing an endowed chair to help foster excellence in musical performance for years to come would be a good way to remember him and celebrate our shared love of music.”
Christopher Waterman, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, said increasing the number of endowed chairs is one of the school’s top priorities for UCLA’s Centennial Campaign. “Elaine’s generous gift will have an enduring impact on the study and practice of musical performance at UCLA,” he said. “I am so grateful to her for her continued investment in the future of our school and our students.”
Krown Klein’s passion for philanthropy was ignited in the mid 1950s when she joined The Affiliates of UCLA, a university service group composed of prominent women from the Los Angeles community. When the group established a student scholarship endowment fund, she quickly became an outspoken advocate for the arts, encouraging expanded support for students. Building on this commitment and enthusiasm, Elaine became a loyal supporter of the School of the Arts and Architecture.
In 1986, she and her husband established The Elaine Krown Klein Fine Arts Scholarship Fund to provide financial support to students in all arts disciplines. Over the past 27 years, Elaine’s scholarship has supported nearly 200 students.
“Elaine has been one of the school’s most steadfast supporters,” Waterman said. “Elaine’s passion for the arts and commitment to the encouragement of young artists has cultivated a truly extraordinary living legacy: Her scholars comprise a network of emerging and accomplished artists, architects, dancers, designers and musicians who span the globe and who share a heartfelt connection to this amazing woman. Elaine’s genuine interest in their work has provided them with the encouragement to pursue their passions as students.”
A Los Angeles native and only child raised by a single mother who was not able to financially support her daughter’s early passion for making art, Krown Klein attributes her love for practicing art to the teachers who encouraged her artistic expression as a young child and provided her with resources to explore her interest. Although she was not able to afford formal artistic training until much later in life, Krown Klein developed a profound appreciation for the struggle that young artists encounter and an unyielding desire to encourage them to follow their passions, regardless of their financial capability.
Krown Klein said she sees philanthropy as more than writing a check; it’s about providing sustained encouragement to students and cultivating a legacy of generosity. And she hopes those she supports will eventually extend helping hands to young artists.
“My heart is in the arts. I couldn’t live without music and art,” she said. “I am very happy to support these young artists and scholars. I never dreamed I could do something like this — this little girl who couldn’t afford to buy a paintbrush when I was young. So, it makes me proud to leave a little image in the sand of time when I’m gone.”
On Saturday, May 2, Waterman and the school will host current and past Elaine Krown Klein scholars at a reunion to commemorate the scholarship’s nearly three-decade history. The event will feature performances by generations of scholars, providing an opportunity for artists from all over the world to honor Krown Klein’s extraordinary commitment to arts education.