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Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra gives back with free concerts, educational programs, food drive
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Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra gives back with free concerts, educational programs, food drive

In addition to providing cultural enrichment and entertainment, most arts institutions also have a unique perspective on charitable giving.

After all, nonprofit community-based musical and theatrical groups know well the importance of a generous constituency, making their outreach efforts that much more personal.

Take the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra.

“As the only professional symphony orchestra in the Region, we want to be a cultural highlight for the area and its people,” explains Tammie Miller, marketing coordinator for the symphony. “And as a nonprofit entity ourselves, we do our best to try and aid our community, knowing that we too are in fact a charitable organization. So even our charity efforts tend to be driven by our amazing donors who help us to help the community.”

Most of those charitable efforts tend to focus on providing free music through the symphony’s free concert series, the South Shore Summer Music Festival. Paid for by the towns that host the performances along with  donors such as the John W. Anderson Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase and Strack & Van Til, these concerts are free to the more than 12,000 attendees. The symphony also donates a number of tickets for its regular season performances to VetTix, an organization that benefits veterans, as well as to other charitable groups to help bolster their own fundraising efforts.

“The symphony is dedicated to providing the residents of Northwest Indiana with the highest quality musical performances and music education,” Miller says. “Our vision is to be a leader in increasing interest in and enjoyment of quality music and to actively promote the areas of study and performance. These free performances and donated tickets allow us to promote that vision to a wider local audience.”

Nurturing the next generation of musicians and aficionados is also a key part of the symphony’s mission. To that end, several events throughout the year are focused on children, including the annual Mary Elizabeth Hannah education concerts, which this year paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing while explaining the instruments and parts of the orchestra to more than 3,000 kids in several performances. In addition, the symphony’s occasional hands-on music and art programs are designed to give kids a chance to try their hand at a range of instruments to see if whether they like them.

In the holiday season, the symphony spends several weeks beginning around Thanksgiving collecting food at various locations to benefit the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and culminating in its Holiday Pops concerts.

“We ask audience members to bring food donations to these performances,” Miller says. “This drive has always been hugely successful with the boxes overflowing.”

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