Arts groups prepare fundraising campaigns



After hunkering down into survival mode for two years, arts groups prepared to meet the economic recovery with fundraising pitches.

This year, five organizations announced or began preparing for the launch of major campaigns. The targets ranged from $12.5 million for Heartland Truly Moving Pictures to $100 million for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art are all working toward launches in 2011.

A sixth player is The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The city is paying for construction of the concert hall and theater complex, but Executive Director Steven Libman still must raise money for the 2011 opening season and, eventually, a supporting endowment. The center hasn’t announced its goals.

Although economic conditions aren’t ideal, donors aren’t as downright frightened as they were when the stock market was plunging, said Frank Basile, a retired Gene B. Glick Co. executive who holds active or honorary posts on several boards.

Besides, he said, arts leaders believe they can’t afford to wait any longer to restore their balance sheets.

“That’s why you have more people now that are beginning to launch campaigns,” he said.

The symphony departed from the usual strategy of quietly gathering major gifts before making a public pronouncement. Instead, the ISO announced its campaign in June with the news that Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay had agreed to serve as co-chairmen.

Civic Theatre, which recently dropped “Indianapolis” from its name, is planning a campaign around its move next fall from the campus of Marian University to the Carmel performing arts center.

Eiteljorg CEO John Vanausdall said the museum was working on a strategy for an endowment-building drive.

More than other types of not-for-profits, arts groups rely heavily on the wealthiest donors.•

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