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Indiana's arts patrons.

These days, the approach is not to ask companies to subsidize the arts, but to "invest."

There is positive evidence that cor-porate support for the arts is alive and flourishing in Indiana, despite tough competition and difficult economic times.

A sampling of corporate arts supporters around the state indicates that most do so because they see the value of their contribution to the quality of life in their respective communities. They also realize that if their employees are happy in their free time, then they will turn out a better product while they are at the work place. In addition, business sees the arts as an attraction when recruiting new employees who weigh the quality of life in a new location and see the arts as integral to their needs.

"There seem to be two concurrent interests. Many corporations in Indiana look at it as a very practical way of taking discretionary philanthropic dollars and strengthening the infrastructure of a community of which they consider the arts a part of," says Tom Schorgl, executive director of the Indiana Arts Commission. "Many feel a dollar goes much further with support of the arts than with sports. There is also a sense of social contract with a community. Companies now also see that by linking up with arts organizations they can serve their own internal goals, thus pursuing a market-based philanthropy."

Also, companies now see the value of art as an event as opposed to strictly being a philanthropy, and they have begun to use it for customer entertainment and to create an image for themselves. Nowadays, sponsorships of a play or an art exhibit can be a lucrative advertising and marketing opportunity as well as a public relations tool for an enterprising business.

Arts organizations are almost never self-sufficient even with the best of attendance. And because there is relatively little government support, they have to depend on business in order to operate and even to survive. These days though, their approach is not to ask companies to subsidize them but to "invest." In this case, semantics are important, especially when arts organizations are going after business dollars. "Investment" indicates that something will be obtained in return, so when companies are asked to invest in an arts organization, what is it that they'll receive?

Companies in Indiana are receiving a lot, and they are anxious to spread that message. Even though there may be the possibility of some long-term financial rewards by their support of the arts, most insist that there are just some things that are more important than the proverbial bottom line.

As Indianapolis' only Fortune 500 company, with 12,000 employees around the state, Eli Lilly & Co. is often recognized for its support of the arts. Lilly was founded by a family active in community affairs, and the company "wants to follow their lead and support worthwhile activities, which our employees can take advantage of," says company spokesperson Fritz Frohmeyer. Of the $1.3 million in philanthropic contributions Lilly made in 1991, Frohmeyer says a majority of the funds went to the arts. "We want to be a good corporate citizen," he adds.

Some of Indianapolis' arts organizations that have enjoyed Lilly's largess include the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indiana Repertory Theater, the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Young Audiences, Starlight Musicals, Arts Indiana magazine and Free Town Village.

As far as Indiana Bell is concerned, anything that makes the state a more attractive place in which to live and do business is good. "We see our role as that of a partnership with the communities we serve in addressing the needs that must be met to assure our mutual success," says Dennis J. McCabe, vice president of corporate communications. "We're going to need creative, innovative people in tomorrow's work place. Aside from the support of technological education, we feel it's important to stimulate creativity via arts sponsorship as well."

To that end, the state's largest communications company, which employs 5,931 people, contributed nearly $300,000 to various arts and cultural groups throughout Indiana in 1991. Major sponsorships include Indiana Bell's "A Yuletide Celebration," featuring the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; "Animals and All That Jazz," a series of summer jazz concerts at the Indianapolis Zoo; and the Indiana Repertory Theatre's Classic Theatre for Youth. Bell's arts support throughout the state includes the Northwest Symphony Society, which received a $20,000 contribution to sponsor an Itzhak Perln Concert; and the Evansville Theatre District, to which Bell made a $30,000 three-year pledge to help restore the Loews Victory Theatre and Sonntage Hotel.

In addition, hundreds of Indiana Bell's employees and retirees make individual contributions to local arts and cultural organizations and their donations are matched by the company.

Employee contributions also are measured in the time that is served on boards of arts organizations. Clare Coxey, vice president of public affairs at GTE North in Westfield, says "if you participate in a personal way on boards of directors, it does in fact, put you in touch with the leadership of your community." GTE North's support of the arts is well known in the area of sponsorships, with major ones in Fort Wayne because of the size of the area and the number customers served there. Those sponsorships include a Yo Yo Ma recital, Baryshnikov and The White Oak Dance Theatre, Fort Wayne Ballet and Fort Wayne Philharmonic performances. GTE North also supports symphonies in Terre Haute, Richmond, LaPorte and Lafayette, as well as civic theatres in Richmond and Elkhart.

Coxey believes that his company gets some image return when it invests in the arts. "At GTE, we try to connect our business with major arts organizations, because if you connect greatness with greatness, then people think your company is great too."

Geo. S. Olive & Co., an Indiana-based CPA firm with 500 partners and employees working in nine offices across the state, also feels it's good business to back the arts. Managing Partner John D. Harris says that even in recessionary times, it's vital to keep on giving. "If we don't when times are bad, we won't have arts at their best and they would be constantly rebuilding. Having a good arts program for the state assists us in attracting tourists and business, who will not only support the arts but all facets of the community as well."

Some of Geo. S. Olive & Co.'s activities include support of the Richmond Civic Theatre, the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, the Evansville Theatre District, Valparaiso Friends of Art and the Northwest Indiana Symphony.

Support of the arts by corporations even manifests itself through the display of original work by Indiana artists in company headquarters. World Life and Accident in Richmond is one such place. President and CEO Wayne Vincent takes a personal interest in maintaining a corporate matching gift program and supporting organizations such as the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, public radio station WECI and local composers, who create music commissioned by the company.

Companies that contribute to the arts in Northwest Indiana include the USX Corp. through its USS Gary Works. The USX Foundation has granted funds to the Greater Arts Council, the Lake Area Arts Alliance and the Northwest Symphony. Skyline Corp. in Elkhart, a manufacturer of mobile homes and recreational vehicles, is a regular sponsor of The Firefly Festival for the Performing Arts, held each summer. It also supports the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame as well as public television station WNIT. Arts organizations in that part of the state also get help from 1st Source Bank in South Bend, where CEO Ernestine Raclin stresses that "the arts make a community complete and provide for a quality of life which is terribly important."

Because arts organizations often face tough competition from sports for consumer entertainment dollars and corporate support, some business leaders feel it's all the more important to help maintain the presence of the arts. Take the example of Randy Rider, president and CEO of Lime City Manufacturing, a company of 40 that does metal stamping and tool and die work in Huntington. "I believe people should have options, and since the arts organizations don't always get equal exposure and opportunities like sports do, somebody has to do it. I do because I'm interested in the arts and because I enjoy them." Rider also believes it's important to educate youngsters in the arts, so his company contributions go to the La Fontaine Arts Council, an umbrella organization that gives grants to art programs focusing on area schools.

Another corporate supporter whose assistance is felt throughout the state is Lincoln National Corp. of Fort Wayne. Lincoln and its subsidiaries, including American States Insurance in Indianapolis, gave $1.3 million to the arts in 1991. In Fort Wayne, the company allocates most of its funds to Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, a federated funding group supporting more than 50 arts organizations and serving as a sort of United Way for the arts. In addition to underwriting major programs at the city's cultural institutions, Lincoln also gives seed money to fledgling arts organizations and supports programs for disadvantaged and "at-risk" children. The company's efforts at supporting the arts have been so significant that it has won two national awards given by the National Business Committee for the Arts.

The spirit of corporate commitment seems to be contagious; Lincoln's employees are known as some of the best art supporters in town. During the fund-raising drive for Arts United held in February and March, 4,500 Lincoln employees gave more than $108,000.

"Our employees want to give their children the best quality of life possible," says Barb Warden, volunteer chair of Lincoln National's Fine Arts Committee, which orchestrated the drive. "They know the arts portray our culture in a way nothing else does. The arts are a window on where our society is, through the music being played, the scripts being written and the art being drawn. It's a window to the soul."

Not that the benefits of corporate arts support are always intangible for the firms writing the checks. Companies like Cummins Engine Co. in Columbus see the arts as being conducive to employee happiness, and that translates into better productivity.

"We believe any company is only as healthy as the community where it operates," says Adele Vincent, executive director of the Cummins Engine Foundation, which grants monies to arts organizations in the Columbus area. "People want to live a whole life. To be productive during work hours, employees need the arts in order to contribute to that full life." Columbus Pro Musica, the Columbus Arts Council and the local architectural program are just a few of the recipients of the foundation's donations.

In Southwest Indiana, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. subscribes to that same concept as it supports organizations such as the Evansville Arts Council, the Evansville Museum, the Philharmonic Orchestra, Dance Theatre, Civic Theatre and Artist's Guild. Also seeking to be a good neighbor in that city is Whirlpool, which employs 4,300 and contributes to many of the same organizations.

And there's one more way to view the benefits of corporate arts support, says Joe Hale, vice president of the PSI Energy Foundation. The arts in this state, he says, are themselves businesses that need local patronage to survive. "We must invest in the vitality of our communities in Indiana. It's good for the state because in order to stay economically competitive on a national scale, we need to have strong cultural communities. Investing in the arts is wise because the arts are an industry with a tax-paying payroll and we need to support that industry as well."
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Indiana corporations' investment in the arts
Author:Alvarez, Tom
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:1940
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