Last month, philanthropists Karl and Nelda Buckman announced the launch of Nelda Studios, a media company and philanthropic organization that supports creativity and the arts.
Mr. Buckman’s grandfather, Dr. Stanley Buckman, founded Buckman Laboratories in 1945. The company created an innovative biocide, which allowed paper mills to control bacteria without shutting down production. The company has since gone on to create other critical chemical solutions for a variety of industries, including industrial waste treatment. Mr. Buckman worked for his family’s company for over a decade and now devotes his time to philanthropic causes, including support for youth-focused arts programs.
Mrs. Buckman graduated from Stephen F. Austin University with a BS in Speech Pathology and served as a speech pathologist and elementary art teacher for Goose Creek Independent School District near Houston.
The couple began producing media content in 2018, including performance projects such as the Tony-nominated Broadway musical The Prom and the original musical Half Time. They recently established Nelda Studios with the mission to “support art and creativity through original media productions, philanthropy, and community outreach.”
In a press release announcing the launch, Mrs. Buckman stated, “In our educational and philanthropic work in schools and communities, Karl and I witnessed how essential creativity is for innovation, as well as for social and emotional learning. That understanding inspired us to found Nelda Studios – to provide audiences and communities with media content, financial support, and direct access to the arts. We are thrilled to be investing in the next generation of creatives.”
One of the first major initiatives that Nelda Studios has announced is the establishment of The Buckman Center at the School of Design and Creative Technologies at the University of Texas at Austin. The new research lab will be housed in the Doty Fine Arts Building and is funded through a $2 million gift from the Karl and Nelda Buckman Fund. The Buckman center is scheduled to open in Fall 2023.
In an article by UT News, Michael Baker, the chair of the Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies said, “With this new immersive experience lab and studio, our students can gain hands-on experience with new technologies to consider questions around the possibilities of augmented reality storytelling… Our students can experiment and create prototypes to prepare them for emerging jobs we can’t even imagine yet.”
Additionally, Nelda Studios is currently in production on two documentaries: Disbeliever, which looks into the effects of technology on children, by filmmaker Laura Dunn and executive producers Robert Redford, Terrence Malick, and Nick Offerman, and Beauty Isn’t Pretty, which investigates beauty standards throughout the world, by Dori Berinstein. Learn more about these and other media projects at the Nelda Studios website.
Nelda Studios also partners with organizations to support hands-on events and programs that bring creativity and art to communities. In the Austin area, they have collaborated on events such as the Austin Design Week, Buzzfest, and SoundQuest Fest.