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Legend of Leadership

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly honored Chuck Surack, founder and owner of BCA 10 honoree Sweetwater Sound, as its 2017 Legend of Leadership.

 

 

Chuck Surack is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, community volunteer, pilot, musician, husband and father who has spent his career not only serving as a leader in his profession but also as a servant leader for non-profits and the community.

 

Surack has served on the boards of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra, WBNI/WBOI Public Radio, Unity Performing Arts Foundation, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Tower Bank, the National Association of Music Merchants and other organizations. He is currently a board member for Easter Seals ARC of Northeast Indiana, the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo (where he was previously Board President), the Boy Scouts of America Advisory Board, Lutheran Hospital, Lutheran Health Network, and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Office of Development. 

 

Surack and his wife contribute to more than 500 nonprofit organizations annually; they also established the Chuck and Lisa Surack Endowed Scholarship for Music Technology at the University of Saint Francis.

 

“I’ve been a musician for as long as I can remember. From my success in business as a music technology retailer, to the joy I experience playing with my band every week, it’s difficult to count up all the blessings that music has brought to my life. For my wife Lisa and me, supporting the arts is a way of paying forward all those blessings, and a great pleasure.”

–Chuck Surack, Founder and President, Sweetwater Sound, Inc

 

Sweetwater Sound, Inc. is committed to serving the arts in order to give back to the community from which it derives its support. While much of the music industry is centered in Nashville and Los Angeles, the company established its headquarters in Fort Wayne, IN, where the cost of living and the quality of life in the city would be attractive to potential employees. Since it was established in 1979, the company has supported local arts organizations through donations; sponsorships; and in-kind products and services, including free musical instruments and equipment, free recording time, both in-studio and at performances.

 

Sweetwater is the fourth largest retailer of music instruments and music technology in the United States. The vast majority of Sweetwater employees are musicians, which means that its operating culture is immersed with music and musicmaking. More than half of Sweetwater’s employees are recruited from out of state and the high quality of the Fort Wayne arts community is one of the incentives provided to candidates.

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A Triple Win for Arts Orgs, College Students, & the Economy

Posted by Susan Mendenhall
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The terms “triple-win” and “triple bottom line” are tossed around in nonprofit publications fairly regularly, especially when it comes to espousing the benefits of corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.
 

At times, it can seem like forging triple-win partnerships are like cranking the philanthropic slot machine hoping for a three liner of cherries. A win for the nonprofit? Ding! A win for the corporate donor? Ding! A win for the community? Ding!
 

But authentic corporate-nonprofit partnerships that have real community impact are no simple gamble. They’re built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect, and a shared commitment to serving real people.
 

A great example of a successful triple-win partnership is the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative. With support from the Lincoln Financial Foundation, Arts United has placed more than 70 paid interns at northeast Indiana’s largest nonprofit arts organizations since 2007. Arts organizations gain assistance and expertise from local college students while providing interns with beneficial career experience in arts administration and nonprofit management.
 

With an annual retention rate of between 40–65 percent, the Initiative has the added bonus of cultivating a creative workforce in northeast Indiana, a region that is striving to retain the talent pool demanded by 21st century businesses. Moreover, interns are placed at leading arts organizations who visibly contribute to elevating the vibrancy of northeast Indiana—a key factor for attracting and retaining talent.
 

Lindsay Sprunger was an intern at Fort Wayne Youtheatre in 2012 thanks to the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative. Before graduating from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne with a degree in English, Lindsay took on Youtheatre’s publications, social media, and web maintenance with the goal of freshening the way that the 79-year-old organization communicates with the kids enrolled in theatre programs.

In addition, Lindsay gained experience in box office management by managing Youtheatre’s integration in a new shared community box office. After her internship, Lindsay accepted the Assistant Manager position with Arts United’s ArtsTix Community Box Office.
 

A win for arts organizations like Youtheatre and Arts United? Ding!
 

A win for area college students like Lindsay? Ding!
 

A win for the regional economy? Ding!
 

This is a triple-win partnership, indeed.
 

“Lincoln Financial Foundation contributes to moving the needle by partnering with organizations like Arts United that do the work,” explains Jean Vrabel, program officer for Fort Wayne and Omaha. “We recognize that the arts contribute to the economic stability of northeast Indiana, and the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative is a true workforce development tool.”
 

The Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative is just one part of a long-standing partnership between Lincoln Financial Foundation and Arts United. The Lincoln Foundation announced in March 2013 that it plans to strengthen ties with Arts United through a multi-year grant of $280,000 over two years.
 

The grant provides general operating support and continued sponsorship of the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative. In addition to the grant, Lincoln employees will contribute more than $30,000 to Arts United this year during their annual workplace campaign.
 

Arts United will use support from Lincoln as a part of its collaborative model of arts administration that utilizes shared resources—Arts Campus facilities, united fundraising and grant administration, financial expertise and business services, and cultural planning—to serve about 70 arts and cultural nonprofits in 12 counties of northeast Indiana.
 

Arts United Executive Director Jim Sparrow says, “Lincoln’s long-standing support of Arts United reinforces the important role that arts and cultural organizations play in our region. Our well-resourced cultural core is a catalyst for a more dynamic, vibrant community.”

 

*This article was originally posted on ARTSblog.

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