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GoggleWorks Announces $12 Million for Endowment

Local and national support helps secure art center's current impact and bolster new vision

GoggleWorks Center for the Arts (GoggleWorks) announced contributions totaling nearly $12 million toward its new endowment, The Fund for the Future of GoggleWorks.


“We are thrilled to announce remarkable contributions to help secure the future of our mission of transforming lives through unique interactions with art,” said Tod Auman, board chair. “These gifts from inside and outside of our community comprise a vote of confidence, recognizing GoggleWorks among the vanguard of organizations addressing tangible, significant community needs through nationally-renowned arts programs.”


Auman said the Windgate Foundation contributed $8.8 million to the fund. Windgate, which supports significant educational programs in contemporary craft and visual arts, initially gave a matching grant of $1 million in 2019 after GoggleWorks co-founder Marlin Miller, executive director Levi Landis, and trustee Gust Zogas visited the foundation at its headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. “After we reported success in matching the initial grant, Windgate announced they had been watching our work and they wanted to give an additional $7.8 million,” said Zogas. “It’s a testament to the leadership of Levi, who championed this campaign and who collaborated with his great team and our community to make GoggleWorks more impactful and sustainable.”


“The Windgate Foundation is a major force for transforming our world through the arts,” said Landis. There is a map in their headquarters with pins in all of the places where they have supported impactful work through arts and education. It looks like a scattered-rainbow block of colors. It’s a vibrant, tangible symbol of their widespread advocacy and leadership.”


Marlin Miller, who co-founded the goggle factory-turned art center with the late Albert Boscov and the late Irvin Cohen, contributed $1 million to the campaign along with his wife Regina. Landis said the contribution was the most recent in a history of unwavering support spanning the 15-year history of the art center.


Miller said, “Development of this endowment provides long-term support to the original vision of developing a community asset for observing, learning, and expressing creativity. GoggleWorks is a unique facility, now with a firm foundation, that can foster that creative activity well into the future.”


Neag Foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to support the effort. Carole Neag, Trustee of the Neag Foundation, said, “Community programs for the arts engage and delight students and adults and help bring the arts to schools and our broader community. Our foundation is based on the premise that the arts bring us joy, help us understand our world, and enable us to improve our well-being. We are proud to support Goggleworks’ important art initiatives.”


Pam Barbey, former trustee, contributed $500,000 with her husband Peter through the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust. “Peter and I are so happy to be a part of an endowment that will provide an enduring life for GoggleWorks! The art center is so important to Reading, its business development, and most importantly the community,” said Barbey.


Zogas, who also contributed $260,000 toward the fund, said the campaign was kicked off with a contribution of $260,000 in 2018 by Dena Hammel and her husband Victor, “Such a remarkable and unexpected gift by the Hammels made us start to see that this was possible, that we could really dream about GoggleWorks impacting artists, residents, visitors, and young people for years to come.”


“I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with Goggleworks since its inception,” said trustee Dena Hammel. “What a joy it has been to be part of its remarkable development as a true asset to the Berks community! I’m particularly delighted to observe the creative arts programs designed for children. It was for that reason that Vic and I chose to establish an endowment designated for children’s arts programming. We are thrilled that others have also contributed and to see how the endowment has grown. We hope others will continue to invest in the future of Goggleworks and the arts in our community.”


Shirley Boscov, sister of Albert Boscov and long-time supporter of the art center, pledged $50,000 to the fund.


Auman said that leaders are thrilled by this support but humbled by the continued work developing sustainable programs that serve the community. “Our building is a tremendous asset, allowing us to draw 250,000 visitors annually. Yet we regularly see capital and overhead costs close to $500,000 annually. This endowment is an important step toward ensuring and communicating our resilience, but we must go further to thrive-GoggleWorks is more than a building.”


Landis echoed this sentiment and hinted at future projects to be announced in 2022. “My mentor, the late Louis Meyers, said to me, ‘every great gift begs a promise.’ Invigorated by these generous contributions, we intend to expand our vision this year to serve the needs voiced by our community, shaping the future of Reading and making a more beautiful world.”

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