arts & culture

10 Ways to Help Local Non Profits

1. Use Your Checkbook

Making a donation to a charity by writing a check is still the most common form of philanthropy in the world. It is relatively simple and certainly direct.

2. Give Through a Donor-Advised Fund

Making a donation through donor-advised funds is becoming more popular. Donor-advised funds are charitable giving accounts offered by a sponsoring organization that are designed as an accessible, simple, and less expensive alternative to private foundations.

3. Set Up a Private or Family Foundation

Some high net-worth donors, and families, set up private family foundations to make their donation. Although some private foundations are large and well known (the Rockefeller Foundation, for example), with matching staffs, most of the approximately eighty thousand private foundations are unstaffed, and two thirds of them have less than $1 million in assets. Your own foundation is the best way to make sure your donation is totally matched to your values and interests.

4. Join a Giving Circle
If you've ever belonged to a book or investment club, then you know the basics of a giving circle. Giving circles are relatively new to the philanthropic scene but are gaining ground rapidly. Making your donation through a giving circle is both fun and practical.
How to Maximize Your Donation Through A Giving Circle

5. Find Intermediaries

If you are concerned about making a donation to a particular issue, or even a geographic area, you may want to seek out intermediaries that are working specifically on that issue or in that locale. Making your donation through a trusted group that knows a cause inside and out can be reassuring.

6. Give Online

Giving online is often called micro-philanthropy, the beauty of which is that donors of modest means, in the aggregate, can make a big difference. Online giving is still not the main way that donors give, but it is the fastest growing method.

7. Donate Your Car, Food, or Clothing

Donating your old car could be just the trick to get it out of your driveway and to do some good. Don't forgot about donating other things too, such as furniture, appliances, food, and clothing. Food pantries and thrift shops have more needs than ever, due to the poor economy.

8. Give Your Time

Volunteering doesn't cost you a dime, and it is really the "in" thing to do these days. More volunteers than ever, in all age groups and from all backgrounds, are finding their way to causes that inspire them. Whether you have one hour a week or one day a year to give, use our tips to help you find your perfect volunteer opportunity.

9. Give Your Stocks

Do good and get a tax deduction as well? Donating stocks could allow you to give more than otherwise to your favorite cause. Any appreciated asset can be donated, such as stocks, real estate, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate investment trusts.

10. Donate Your Skills.

Have a specialized skill such as accounting? You can help by preparing tax forms, financial statements or auditing the books.

Why Arts Should be Considered a Basic Need

John Mielke hears it all the time that basic needs should come before the arts when it comes to prioritizing dollars.

It’s not that he disagrees - he understands that basic needs are important. The problem, he says, is that we have too narrowly defined what constitutes a basic need. Dr. Mielke sees the debate in his role on the Appleton Area School Board and as a long time advocate of the arts in the Fox Cities.

With participation in the arts a critical component of creative problem solving, he thinks it’s time to change the terms of the debate.

“We really need to expand the definition of basic needs,” Mielke says. “If we don’t have art, we will always be paying more money to solve problems that could have been prevented.”

In Mielke’s mind, exposure to the arts should start in early childhood - which he will even define as pre-natal - and continue throughout their formative years. He points to the links between arts and mathematics or arts and problem solving and is convinced it is a cost-effective solution to many of society’s problems.

“When we concentrate the effort upstream, when kids are young, it doesn’t cost all that much,” he says. “We know that it can affect everything else we do. Isn’t that a basic need?”

The Stores of Christmas

FCM - Pullout - November - DT for the HolidaysStrains of “Silver Bells” may be ringing in your ears if you spend some time in downtown Appleton this month.

The city sidewalks will definitely be dressed in holiday style as downtown stores and Downtown Appleton Inc. kick off the shopping season with their Downtown for the Holidays event.
 
Downtown for the Holidays is an event for the entire family, with plenty to do for children and lots of shopping for the adults. There will be Christmas carolers, visits with Santa, crafts and cookie baking with
Mrs. Clause.

“The theme is a Story Book Christmas, so it should be a lot of fun for the kids." says Anne Weigman, marketing director of Downtown Appleton Inc. Shops will provide sales to help make holiday shopping satisfying for their customers.

Each shop participating in the event will be part of a window decorating contest, and shoppers can vote for their favorite on the Appleton Downtown Facebook page. There will also be opportunities to make a donation to the Salvation Army. Any donation made, Downtown Appleton Inc. and participating businesses will match.

The downtown shopping event provides a different shopping experience that cannot be found anywhere else. Downtown for the Holidays runs Nov. 16–Dec. 24.

The Baking Boss

FCM - Pullout - November - BuddyThe Boss is taking over the Weidner Center.

The Cake Boss, aka celebrity baker Buddy Valastro, will be making a stop in Green Bay on Nov. 20 as part of his Family Celebrations tour.

Audience members will have the opportunity to hear the TLC star’s baking secrets and family stories as part of a live, interactive event.

“Buddy is hilarious. He’s just a funny person,” says Joanna Brumley of the Cake Boss. Brumley is the marketing coordinator for Mills Entertainment, the company producing Family Celebrations. “You get behind the scenes stories about his family, about the TV show, a more in-depth story about Buddy that you really wouldn’t get otherwise.”

During the performance, Valastro will give demonstrations of cake decorating techniques with help from the audience in what the Weidner Center calls “a high-energy experience for the whole family.”

“People will get to see Buddy in person, doing what he does best,” Brumley says of the show.  Brumley explains that during multiple parts of the show, the Cake Boss will bring different groups of “lucky folks” (including kids, moms, dads and couples) to the stage to participate in competitive games and decorating demos.

The Cake Boss’s fourth book, Family Celebrations with the Cake Boss, will be released Nov. 5. VIP ticket holders will receive a signed copy of this latest book and participate in a meet-and-greet after the show.

Visit weidnercenter.com to learn more about The Cake Boss Family Celebrations tour.

Holidays on the March

FCM - Pullout - Holiday ParadeThe imagery of childhood will burst to life this year during Appleton’s downtown Christmas parade when characters from beloved storybooks dance forth to warm the hearts of the young and young-at-heart.

The 43rd Annual Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade is the Midwest’s largest
nighttime parade and attracts people from across the region. This year, the parade is expected to attract more than 80,000 attendees and 100,000 television viewers, making it one of the biggest events of the season.

Among this year’s estimated 80 parade entrants, viewers will enjoy floats, decorated vehicles, walking units & animal entries all centered on this year’s theme: “A Storybook Christmas”.

Some of the year-to-year favorite entries are the balloons and the Vic
Ferrari Band, says Parade Chairman Greg Otis. However, he says, with
such a magical theme, all of the entries are sure to delight.

Immediately following the parade will be the Annual City of Appleton Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in City Park. The tradition, sponsored by Appvion, Inc., will take place at approximately 7:45 p.m. The Concert
Singers from Appleton West High School will sing Christmas carols and live reindeer will accompany Santa and Mrs. Claus as they hand out candy canes to the children.

When asked for advice on claiming a spot on the sidewalk, Otis laughed. He did point out, though, that anyone looking to stake a claim cannot do so before noon the day of the parade and must stay with the chairs, etc. they mark their place with.

The Christmas Parade take place on November 26 starting at 6:20pm, following the Santa Scamper at 6pm.

Flashdance at the PAC

FCM - November - FlashdanceThe popular 80's dance flick Flashdance celebrates 30 years of inspiration with an onstage musical that opens Nov. 12 at the Fox Cities Performing
Arts Center.
 
Adapted from the movie, the musical closely follows the story of young Alex Owens, a welder at a Pittsburgh steel mill and bar dancer by night, who aspires to become a professional dancer. The musical incorporates new songs and dance sequences to attract new fans as well.
 
"You'll walk out singing the great songs from the movie," says Maria Van Laanen, executive vice president of the Fox Cities PAC. "Dance is really
the heart and soul of this musical."
  
The choreography from the new show was done by Sergio Trujillo, who also choreographed the musicals Memphis and Jersey Boys. The score includes original hit songs from the movie such as "Maniac", "I Love Rock & Roll" and "Flashdance… What a Feeling,”  plus an additional 16 songs created for the Broadway production.
 
Flashdance runs through November 17th. Show times are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7:30pm and Sunday at 1pm and 6:30pm. Visit the foxcitiespac.org.
 
— by Ashley Ivansek

All Aboard for the Holidays

FCM- Pullout - November - Polar ExpressThe Polar Express isn’t just a train ride, Bob Lettenberger says, it’s an experience.

The National Railroad Museum’s annual production of The Polar Express brings the classic Christmas tale to life in a multi-faceted experience. Participants explore the Festival of Trees in the Lenfestey Center before the show. Children play Reindeer Games, including Mr. Snowman’s Big Snowball Toss, see the Hot Chocolate Dance and enjoy a cup of hot
chocolate before a dramatic reading of the original Polar Express book.

When the Polar Express itself is ready to leave the station, the conductor calls, “All aboard!” and participants join the train crew on an expedition to the North Pole. On board the train, the crew provides a host of entertainment including songs, pointing out sights, and handing out chocolates & sleigh bells for the children.

“It’s really just a neat, fun train ride for everyone to participate in,” Lettenberger says.

When the train arrives in the North Pole, each child will have the chance to visit Santa before he embarks on his trip around the world. The Polar Express is a massive undertaking for the National Railroad Museum. On Nov.  1, the entire staff and a host of volunteers spent the day unloading a full 53’ semi-trailer of decorations and using them to bring the Festival of Trees to life. On a single day when the shows are running, Lettenberger says there are 30–40 staff members working and the kitchen brews over 30 gallons of hot chocolate.

Unfortunately, the Polar Express has limited seats. Tickets go on sale on July 25 each year and for the 2013 season, the premium class tickets sold out in nine and a half hours.

“Circle July 25th, 2014 on your calendar in big red marker, because that’s when the tickets will go on sale and when you can grab them,” Lettenberger advises.

When asked what children love most about the program, Lettenberger struggled to pick one aspect.

“Coming somewhere in their pajamas, drinking hot chocolate. The train ride is a big deal and of course seeing Santa,” he says. “It’s just a really happy time.”

Visit nationalrrmuseum.org to learn more about The Polar Express.

The Heart of Art in the Fox Cities

 

FCM - Heart of Art in the Fox Cities - October

Behind any thriving community exists a strong commitment to the arts that fosters dynamic creativity. This creativity flows through the Fox Cities as tenaciously as the Fox River.

Much like the river’s current, this driving force is not always seen on the surface, but is ever- present and responsible for unique ideas and cutting-edge innovation within the Fox Cities. It encourages free thought and enables expression of humanity.

The heart of this spirit can be found in the collaborative efforts behind the recently renamed Fox Cities Building for the Arts.

“We decided to change the name of the building to the Fox Cities Building for the Arts because it better represented what was going on in the building,” says Pamela Williams-Lime, Trout Museum of Art and Fox Cities Building for the Arts president, “[It] is more reflective of what is happening here and it’s a better way for us to communicate that to the community.”

The building, formerly known as The Reigel Building, The Appleton Art Center, and The Trout Museum of Art was recently rechristened The Fox Cities Building for the Arts and houses five of the Fox Valley’s most prominent arts organizations: Appleton Boychoir, Fox Valley Symphony, Makaroff Youth Ballet, newVoices (formerly White Heron Chorale) and the Trout Museum of Art.

“When the Appleton Art Center became the Trout Museum of Art, a lot of the local community just looked at it as a museum and didn’t really feel they needed to be involved in it anymore, [and that] it wasn’t a community group,” says Michelle Richeson, a local visual artist and Fox Cities Building for the Arts board member.

But the changes extend beyond a name change; new opportunities and more accessible space are in store for all five organizations.

“We are in the middle of a capital campaign to address the needs of all the organizations living in here,” says Williams-Lime.

Often forced to rent space to hold meetings, the organizations residing in the building are now able to use renovated office space on the third floor. The space includes a board room conducive to holding rehearsals, receptions and small performances.

Along with a revamped third floor, renovations to the fifth floor will take place to better address recently kick-started educational programming.

The name change and inter-group cooperation will also serve as a collaborative model for non-profit organizations.

“The capital campaign, in the process of changing from the Trout Museum to the Fox Cities Building for the Arts, was done intentionally to better serve both what we as a non-profit are trying to do, but also to help the other organizations as well,” says Williams-Lime. “We’re talking about a collaborative business model and collaboration between the organizations.”

Kathi Seifert, chairman of the board of the Fox Cities Building for the Arts, says this model will produce and encourage ideas that better define operations within non-profits, whether they are arts-related or not.

“If we work on how more effectively we can work together and share resources or learn from each other, utilizing the same resources could not only save money, [but] provide more efficiency for each and every one of the organizations,” says Seifert.

The increased efficiency and communication between the arts organizations within the building are expected to not only provide an example for other non-profits, but also allow for more joint projects that include multiple, or all, groups.

The Young Audiences Fine Arts Series, one of the first collaborative projects set to run from January through May, will involve all five organizations and aims to introduce families into all areas of the arts. Each organization in the building will stage a 40 minute interactive educational performance for audiences of young children and families. With each performance, audience members will also complete a hands-on arts project relevant to the presentation.

“It’s an example of where we’re looking to collaborate because each of our missions has a piece of education in it,” says Williams-Lime. “You find common threads and you make a bigger presentation instead of each organization programming independently.”

Seifert says more collaborative programs will help increase engagement in the arts by community members.

“The collaborative programming will bring people together and help them not only learn about the arts but have fun, enjoy the arts and feel proud of the different things they can do from a creative standpoint,” says Seifert.

Rebecca Fitton, an alumnus of both the Fox Valley Youth Symphony and Makaroff Youth Ballet, participated in a collaborative performance with the two organizations this past spring.

“Not only did the dancers and musicians learn from the performance, but many community members were entranced by the power of youth artists,” Fitton says.

For Fitton, these collaborations can both involve the community and enhance the arts themselves.

“Different art forms are both naturally intertwined and compliment each other well,” Fitton says. “It makes complete sense to honor their relationship by renaming the building.”FCM - Heart of Art in the Fox Cities - October - at night

Williams-Lime says she hopes the Fox Cities Building for the Arts collaborations will accentuate this relationship.

“[Art] is woven into everybody’s soul whether they know it or not,” says Williams-Lime. “What we’re trying to do is put a little emphasis on that.”

With fine arts often one of the first programs to be cut in schools, the revamped Fox Cities Building for the Arts can help fill the void and serve as a hub for artists both professional and amateur.

“It really made me think about where I put my money and my time,” says Richeson. “So few people give to the arts and it’s something the whole community does enjoy.”

Along with engaging the community in the arts, the Fox Cities Building for the Arts programming can help foster important skills and allow for creative development among youth.

“It’s so important that we engage our youth in the arts and really help them focus on creativity and problem solving,” Seifert says. “Not only is art something to enjoy, but I truly believe that engaging in the arts encourages creativity, which can in turn encourage innovation, which helps drive the future.”

 

Planning a PAC Season

FCM - Planning a PAC Season

Those looking forward to the exciting and diverse 2013–14 Fox Cities Performing Arts Center season have themselves and the rest of the community to thank, says Maria Van Laanen, vice president of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. While the final decisions on shows included in the season are made by a committee, its decisions are swayed by community opinion and ticket sales for past events.

The process of putting together a season is a complicated and lengthy one, Van Laanen says. The serious scheduling starts about 15 to 18 months before the season begins. Some Broadway touring shows are scheduled as early as two years in advance, while  individual musicians or comedians can be booked as late as three or four months prior to the performance.

New shows are found in a variety of ways, but Van Laanen says a “trade show” of sorts in New York, where producers, promoters and performers come together, gives “an opportunity to start to gain some awareness of the new artists that may be up-and- coming.” High quality music and family friendly shows are particularly appealing to loyal local audiences, but efforts are made to diversify the season, not only bringing in big-name Broadway shows, but giving Valley residents a chance to see something new.

The upcoming season features everything from an intimate concert with Judy Collins—a show to which Van Laanen says she is particularly anticipating—to the return of the Broadway favorite Wicked.

Visit foxcitiespac.com for the full 2013–14 lineup and ticket information.

Dressed for Success

 

FCM - Dressed for Success - Katharine HepburnKatharine Hepburn once famously said, “Anytime I hear a man say he prefers a woman in a skirt, I say, ‘Try one. Try a skirt.’”

“Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” opens September 13 at the Trout Museum of Art in Appleton and runs through December 15. The exhibit will feature Hepburn’s private collection of personal and performance clothing spanning her six decade career, from elaborate dresses of silk and lace to her iconic khaki pants. Having appeared at only four other locations before the Trout, this is the first time the exhibit will travel to the Midwest.

Museum president Pamela Williams- Lime says that nationally, many museums are curating exhibits that combine fashion and art to appeal to a wider audience. “We hope the exhibit will help attract more people outside the area to the Trout, helping it to become more widely known,” she says.

The exhibit extends beyond the walls of the museum with special events and partnerships in the Fox Cities community. Large groups will have the option of having a special guided tour and presentation accompanied by brunch, tea or cocktails. Additionally, the museum hopes to integrate the community into the exhibit through collaborations with the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton Public Library and Lawrence University.

Hepburn had an influential style for generations of women, and her allure continues into the present day. “She was a strong woman, and that still resonates with people,” Williams-Lime says. “There’s interest in her as a person as well as the exhibit.” Visit troutmuseum.org for museum hours and more information.

—Photo courtesy of the KSU Museum.

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