Dolores & Tom Bruce are familiar and revered names at Wildwood Park for the Arts. From the Bruce Garden surrounding the Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre to the Dodi Tea House built in honor of Dolores Fay Bruce in the Asian Woodland Garden, patrons of the Park experience daily the joy and serenity the Bruce Family has created at Wildwood.
In recent years, Tom – with muddied knees and a damp brow from tending various areas in the botanical gardens – often introduced himself to people new to the Park as “a gardener for Wildwood.” The seeds he sowed continue to blossom into beautiful and educational horticultural collections, and much more. The Bruce legacy extends well beyond the gardens. Tom and Dolores shared a love for the arts and believed passionately in the value of arts education. As a Wildwood board member for many years, Dolores supported summer programming for youth and operatic productions for statewide touring. Her husband was a guiding force in the creation of the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts, launched in the summer of 2014.
Tom chaired the WAMA Advisory Task Force until his death, providing visionary leadership and seed funding for scholarships and faculty. The Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA) provides youth in Arkansas access to the highest standards in music and arts education as well as training and performance opportunities, all supported by professional faculty. With primary emphasis on instrumental music, WAMA also provides a vocal training program and electives in multiple arts genres. Public performances and master classes by esteemed guest artists from across the United States are held throughout June and July. Wildwood is currently working on a site plan with StudioMain, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting collaboration between the Design Fields and the general public – and in the case of Wildwood, creative placemaking – to expand WAMA’s capacity by building cottages and facilities to serve students from across Arkansas and throughout our region. As WAMA grows, core studies, too, will expand to include instrumental and vocal training as well as visual and design arts, theatre arts, culinary arts, and literary arts, for example.
Among the many awards and honors earned by Tom and Dolores, including the distinguished President’s Award on National Philanthropy Day in 2008, Tom Bruce was recognized for the Patron Award by Governor Asa Hutchinson at the 2016 Governor’s Arts Awards. (To see the video created for the ceremony, click here. For footage of another recent interview about the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts, click here.)
Wildwood intends to ensure that families participating in the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts and patrons of the botanical gardens, performances and festivals at the Park will continue to enjoy the fruits of the seeds that Tom & Dolores sowed during their lifetimes. If you, too, would like to plant seeds for arts education, further the horticultural collections, or support Wildwood’s general operations, please click here or contact Wildwood at (501) 821-7275 or by emailing Mary Bea Gross at Marybea@wildwoodpark.org.
For more information about the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA), contact Angela Collier (firstname.lastname@example.org).