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BusINess » Business » Why arts and culture are always worthy of your support

Why arts and culture are always worthy of your support

With state funding for the arts down by 35% from this time two years ago, the support of the arts on the local level by individuals and businesses is more essential than ever before.

South Shore Arts and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra are the region’s two oldest arts organizations. South Shore Arts began in 1936 when a dedicated group of local artists organized the first annual art exhibition of the Hammond District Art Association in the millinery (that’s lady’s hats) department of the Edward C. Minas Department Store in downtown Hammond.

The Gary Civic Symphony Orchestra, now known as the Northwest Indiana Symphony, performed its first concert five years later on December 7, 1941, with 86 volunteer musicians performing under the direction of a cello teacher from Chicago, who had relocated to Gary. They opened the concert that evening with a thundering performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

I think we all know that you don’t get to be in your seventies without a lot of support. Both South Shore Arts and the Symphony have rich traditions, and, thanks to decades of support from loyal donors and audiences, have flourished, growing into regional entities with annual budgets exceeding a million dollars.

South Shore Arts is a large regional arts organization serving Northwest Indiana and greater south suburban Chicago. We have three locations-our headquarters in Munster at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts, an urban art center in downtown Hammond called Substation No. 9, and another branch location in Crown Point. Each year we present over 20 exhibits of local, regional, national and international art in our four galleries, and offer over 400 classes in everything from graphic arts to painting, drawing, photography, pottery, cartooning, air-brushing and pre-school classes to name a few.

Central to our mission is arts education, and our “everykid” outreach program annually reaches over 20,000 children and youth as we partner with schools, social service agencies and municipal parks and recreation departments. The Beaux Arts Ball, our annual black-tie fundraiser that benefits the “everykid” program, is held every year on the first Friday in June and is a consistently sold-out, must-go-to event. South Shore Arts is one of eight Regional Arts Partners for the State of Indiana and will this year re-grant $192,000 to nonprofit arts organizations, as well as providing technical assistance for area artists and promoting the arts throughout Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. South Shore Arts manages the famous South Shore Poster series and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra.

The season for the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra consists of seven concerts, three of which are the pops-oriented concerts presented at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville and three of which are more traditionally classical performed this year at Bethel Church on Broadway in Crown Point. A Gala Concert launches the regular concert season. The Northwest Indiana Youth Orchestra performs twice a year at Munster and Hobart High School. The Symphony has a 120-member volunteer chorus that practices every week and performs in concerts throughout the year, as well as a very active women’s association, WANISS. There is an annual Young Peoples Competition and an excellent education concert each year in the fall geared towards fulfilling state educational standards for music, complete with lesson plans for teachers to prepare their students in advance. The Symphony serves over 8,000 children each year in music education programs. During the months of June and July the Symphony puts on the free South Shore Summer Music Festival presented outdoors in communities across the region. Kirk Muspratt is our Music Director and Conductor.

The Indiana Coalition for the Arts reminds us of the many benefits that the arts provide in our daily lives:

The arts define a sense of place and identity for communities.

The arts promote understanding and an open exchange of ideas and values.

The arts attract new business and talented professionals.

The arts draw visitors, which generate tax revenue and jobs.

The arts make a community more livable.

The arts help improve grades and student attendance.

The arts break down racial stereotypes, religious barriers and socio-economic prejudices.

The arts must be accessible in a community, especially during a recession when workers are being challenged to learn new skills and perhaps move to other areas in order to find meaningful and gainful employment. The arts-and arts education-must be integrated into all aspects of community life. Arts education, whether in a school setting or through community programs and partnerships, is one means to achieving this accessibility.

If you have an interest in supporting our organizations, please engage us by taking an art class, coming to an exhibit, or attending a Symphony concert. We also gladly accept and appreciate donations of money, volunteer time, in-kind services and advocacy for the arts. Legacy contributions in your name to the endowment funds of either organization will sustain our work in perpetuity. For further information contact Tricia Hernandez, Director of Marketing and Development, South Shore Arts and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, 219.836.1839 ext. 107, tricia@southshoreartsonline.org.

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