UCLA receives $2.9 million for fine arts scholarships from late philanthropist Elaine Krown Klein

Continuing her longtime commitment to supporting the arts and music at UCLA, the late visual artist and philanthropist Elaine Krown Klein has made a $2.9 million gift to a scholarship fund in her name. Krown Klein died on Jan. 5.

The Elaine Krown Klein Fine Arts Scholarship Fund at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, established by Klein and her late husband, Leo Klein, in 1986, is now valued at more than $4 million, making it the largest for the school.

“I had the great fortune of meeting Elaine and getting to know more about her wish to support young artists, designers and musicians. Her spirit of generosity has helped many young scholars find success at a pivotal time in their lives and careers,” said Brett Steele, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. “The work that our students and alumni produce will ensure that her legacy lives on.”

There have been 225 recipients of the Elaine Krown Klein Fine Arts Scholarship since the fund began awarding scholarships in 1989. Another 13 recipients will begin their studies in the fall.

Elaine Adelle Krown Klein was born in Los Angeles on Feb. 29, 1924, an only child raised by a single mother who worked as a typist. Despite her family’s limited financial means, Krown Klein attributed her early love for art making to the teachers who encouraged her artistic expression as a child and provided her with necessary resources to explore her interest.

After marrying, Krown Klein could afford to take art classes at Los Angeles City College. Later, Krown Klein and her husband established and successfully ran an accounting firm in West Los Angeles for more than 40 years. Her formative years instilled in her a profound appreciation for the struggles that young artists encounter and an unyielding desire to encourage their pursuit of their passions, regardless of financial capability.

Krown Klein’s passion for philanthropy was ignited in the mid-1950s when she was invited to join 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.

“I found out how good it feels to help some talented people that go in the direction that their heart wants," Krown Klein said in a 2015 interview.

Building on this commitment and enthusiasm, Krown Klein became a loyal supporter of the School of the Arts and Architecture and the musical programs that would form part of the foundation of the Herb Alpert School of Music.

In 1986, she and Leo established the Elaine Krown Klein Fine Arts Scholarship Fund to provide financial support to students across all of the arts. The scholarship has supported aspiring artists, architects, designers, dancers and musicians, many of whom have gone on to build remarkable careers in their fields such as visual artists Meleko Mokgosi and Shana Lutker and dancer and choreographer Kevin Williamson. Others have made their mark closer to campus.

“I feel indebted to Elaine and other philanthropists who allowed me to pursue my graduate studies in dance without an enormous amount of worry or debt,” said Kevin Kane, director of the UCLA Visual and Performing Arts Education program. Kane received a Krown Klein scholarship while pursuing his M.F.A. in dance choreography.

“She was genuinely invested in our work, achievements, and craft,” said Rayne Laborde, another Krown Klein scholar who is completing master’s degrees in architecture and urban planning. “She lit up when eagerly recounting phone calls, letters, and visits from alumni with whom she maintained decades-long relationships.”

In 2015, Krown Klein established the Leo M. Klein and Elaine Krown Klein Chair in Performance Studies in the Herb Alpert School of Music.

“Elaine’s generosity has molded the lives of hundreds of young musicians at a time when they need the financial and emotional support most,” said Eileen Strempel, dean of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. “I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met Elaine and to have spoken with her about her passionate support for young artists.”

David Castañeda, a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology, also recalled meeting Krown Klein at a luncheon.

“I remember her being incredibly warm, speaking with me, and with the many other luncheon attendees as if she had known us many years, greeting us like we were old friends. I shared with her how important her support was to my own, as well as many others’, research for years to come,” Castañeda said. “She seemed genuinely happy to support us, meet us and to share at least some of her busy day with us. It truly was a pleasure to have met her and I remain grateful beyond words for her support.”

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