Bill Blankenship donates $500,000 to UT Martin Fine Arts Project

MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin received a $500,000 donation from an alumnus and noted university donor to continue Phase II of the Fine Arts Performance Center Project.

Bill Blankenship

Bill Blankenship graduated from UT Martin in 1955 and also contributed to the Fine Arts Building Phase I construction. The Blankenship Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building is named after him.

Blankenship believes it is key to give back to his university.

“I want to be at the forefront of giving back, especially if it means the leaders of tomorrow will gain all that they can while at UT Martin and be prepared to go out into the world and be positive forces of change," Blankenship said in an interview for Tennessee Alumnus magazine.

The facility will be used by the Fine and Performing Arts programs, as well as host guest performers, academic speakers, fundraising events, conferences and regional competitions. The new performance center would provide practice and performance space that are not readily available to each specific department.

“The new concert hall will provide the venue sorely needed to give all UTM students access to the highest-caliber touring acts, while also providing a large-audience capacity space with great acoustics for our own UTM music ensembles,” said Dr. Julie Hill, chair of the Department of Music.

The construction of Phase I of the Fine Arts Building was finished in 2013, completing the first half of the project. Construction for Phase II will cost $40 million overall and requires a six percent match, or $2.4 million, to receive state funding.

The performance center is expected to contribute over $400,000 annually to the Northwest Tennessee economy through programs and partnerships in music, visual arts, children's programming, dance and film.

“A new concert hall will provide our students, faculty and guests with a modern facility to showcase growth and talent. Having a concert hall of this caliber will contribute to social and economic growth within the region and will bring community pride and revenue to the area,” said DaeShuana Aldridge, a junior music major from Paris. “With this new ‘big-city’ concert hall, UTM will provide a cultural gem, impacting a far greater region than the borders of our campus.”

For more information, contact Dr. Charley Deal, vice chancellor for university advancement, at


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