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Meridian in the News

Arts organizations benefiting from Rialzo excitement

Jan 30

Written by:
Wednesday, January 30, 2013  RssIcon

from The Star Press 

MUNCIE — All the hip-shaking and toe-tapping during the annual Rialzo gala for Meridian Health Services does more than support the agency.

From the time of the fundraiser’s creation, three arts partners — Muncie Civic Theatre, Muncie Symphony Orchestra and Cornerstone Center for the Arts — have been beneficiaries to the gala, not only financially, but in terms of networking as well.

“Getting our name out there, to the many business owners that attend the event, has been huge for all of us,” said Robby Tompkins, executive director of Cornerstone. “We’ve received in-kind donations and free advertising that we could never afford if it weren’t for Rialzo. People know more about what each of us do and that’s been something we don’t take for granted.”

Advertisements for the event mention not only the dates of Rialzo, but also the names of the arts partners. Newsletters and quarterly magazines associated with Meridian and other sponsors have also made known the arts partners will benefit from event.

“(Rialzo) is definitely making an impact on us financially, especially in terms of sponsorships and class enrollment,” Tompkins said. “We have more sponsorships than we’ve ever had for programs. We’re not raking in the dough or anything, but we’re definitely more stable than we’ve ever been and Rialzo is a huge part of that.”

Alena McKenzie, executive director for the MSO, has also seen a positive impact from the partnership with Rialzo.

When she took over the reins of the MSO, the agency was $60,000 in debt and was having a difficult time attracting new visitors to their concerts.

After networking at Rialzo — and showcasing some of the MSO talent during a pre-gala event — McKenzie has seen an average growth of 50 more people attending concerts, an increase of 30 percent.

The agency has also erased its debt and increased its musical outreach programs.

“As a newcomer to the agency a little more than a year ago, I was wondering how Rialzo would impact what we already do and it’s been great for us,” McKenzie said. “The networking — letting the people who didn’t know about us become interested in our programs — was the most important part to me. We gave out free coupons for at Rialzo and not only did we re-coup them quickly after Rialzo, many of those people have stayed for future programs.”

The staff at the Civic have also noticed the bump in subscribers and visitors to their plays and other events, not enough to double their attendees to their performances, but it’s a step in that direction.

In the past, each of the agencies had received a couple of thousands dollars as a result of their Rialzo partnership.

But indirect benefits — future sponsors, more visitors to performances, interest in raising funds through different means for each agencies — has been the biggest plus.

“(Rialzo) obviously benefits Meridian. It’s their event and it should do that ... but the idea that (the arts partners) could be benefit as well shows how generous the people at Meridian are,” McKenzie said. “They’re helping all of us at a time when we each had difficult times. Of course, we’re grateful.”

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