South Shore Arts & Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra Attracts Region to Arts – NWILife
South Shore Arts and the Northwest Indiana Symphony have a long history of promoting and advocating for the arts in our region. The history of South Shore Arts dates back to 1936 when 10 local artists created its legacy in the Hammond District Art Association and sponsored their first art exhibition in the millinery department of Edward C. Minas department store downtown of Hammond. This first exhibition became the foundation of what will be the 79e Annual Show in September.
The history of the Symphony Orchestra is of a similar length, with their very first performance taking place after much community discussion on December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day some 81 years ago.
The two organizations came together in 2008 when South Shore Arts assumed management responsibilities to ensure the future operations of the Symphony Orchestra. Together, these combined organizations form an arts powerhouse committed to producing and promoting a full spectrum of artistic activity in our region.
Supporting Northwest Indiana as a whole, in 1997 South Shore Arts was named a Regional Arts Partner for Region 1 serving the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC). In this role, South Shore Arts is responsible for promoting and connecting all forms of arts organizations, artists and artistic activities across the region.
“As the ACI’s Regional Arts Partner, our role is to support and help promote the arts and arts organizations throughout the region – Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. The arts play a crucial role in contributing to the quality of life in our communities,” said General Manager David Mika. “As the new CEO of South Shore Arts, I want to make sure we connect with other regional organizations to help recognize the value the arts can play in promoting the quality of life in the region, as well as to attract others from outside the region to visit or relocate.The artistic offerings we provide and support across all artists, art forms and arts organizations – fine arts, visual artists , performing artists, music and theater, etc. – truly enrich the life experiences of our residents – and I believe in making Northwest Indiana a better place to live.
As a regional arts partner, South Shore Arts facilitates the ACI Arts Programming and Arts Organizations grant processes each year, with more than 50 local arts organizations and projects currently receiving grants.
South Shore Arts also offers its own classes, programs and exhibits to benefit local residents. These include a variety of courses at its main location at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster and a sub-station in Hammond town centre, which will be re-launched in September after a temporary closure in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes are available for all levels and skill sets, ranging from beginner, intermediate and advanced, and cover topics such as drawing, painting, ceramics, pottery, sculpture, photography, art design digital, and more.
The organization also raises funds for its Everykid program, a free program that partners with many local schools to provide arts enrichment programs to area second and third graders. These programs are multi-dimensional such as “Toot & Doodle”, “Magic Trash”, “Your Name is a Song”, and “The Skin You Live In”. It offers similar outreach programs through other community organizations such as local WMCAs and other nonprofit organizations.
South Shore Arts also produces exhibitions in its 5,000 square foot Bachman Gallery which showcases locally, regionally and nationally renowned artists. Her current exhibit, “Nature Lovers,” is an art exhibit featuring local Peggy Macnamara, artist-in-residence at the Field Museum of Chicago, Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick, award-winning Chicago Tribune photojournalist Zbigniew Bzdak, as well as artists with local ties William Nichols, Corey Hagelberg and Em’rynn Artunian. This show is until August 27 and the gallery is open and available seven days a week.
Another example of South Shore Arts exhibit work mentioned earlier is the 79e Annual “Salon Show” competition. Artists from Indiana and Chicago are invited to submit work for selection in this exhibition with a prize pool of over $13,000 for recognition of best work. The submission deadline for this year’s show is August 12, and the exhibition will open to the public with the selected artworks on September 7. Winners will be recognized at the Salon Show awards ceremony on Sunday, October 2, 2022.
South Shore Arts is also a strong supporter of integrating the arts into local schools. For nearly 50 years, it has hosted the annual Tri-County Jr/Sr High School Show, which is attended by more than 25 area schools. Recognition and awards are offered on multiple media with over $9,000 in scholarships and awards.
Also within the South Shore Arts organization is the Northwest Indiana Symphony, which consists of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, the Northwest Indiana Symphony Chorus, and our Youth Orchestra program. Maestro Kirk Muspratt, a native of Crows Nest Pass, Alberta, Canada, is the Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director and Conductor and conducted the orchestra for 20 seasons. Kirk is a well-liked, entertaining and recognizable personality in the region.
The Symphony Orchestra is currently presenting its 15e Annual South Shore Summer Music Festival, performing a wide variety of musical genres including classical, film scores and other popular and patriotic music in seven local communities: Lansing, Schererville, Crown Point, Munster , Griffith, Valparaiso and Hammond. The orchestra then begins its traditional season in October, opening this year with a gala and a vocal and musical performance of the award-winning work “West Side Story”.
Community involvement is a huge factor that keeps South Shore Arts connected with those in Northwest Indiana. While the organization may receive grants from various entities, including the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment of the Arts, as well as various of our local community foundations, much of its funding comes from supporters within from the community. In fact, most of South Shore Arts’ funding and programming comes from its biggest and most extravagant fundraiser, the Beaux Arts Ball which takes place on the first Friday in June each year. It is this community engagement and support that truly sustains the South Shore Arts organization and the arts as a whole in Northwest Indiana.
“All of our programming, from the Regional Arts Partnership, to the artistic side, to the symphonic side of the organization, is about the community,” Mika said. “It’s about how we use the arts to help transform our communities there and create space in our communities for art, an appreciation for art, and even the awareness that you have opportunities to participate in art, and for this reason we are very much community driven.
Providing others with the opportunity to experience and engage with art is something Mika said is crucial in any community. It’s a great way to improve quality of life and provide outlets for self-expression. He is also grateful to be able to help expand such opportunities to Northwest Indiana through his role in South Shore Arts.
“It’s a chance to enrich your life beyond basic foundations and people’s basic needs,” he said. “It really increases the quality of life and satisfaction for residents of an area to live, work and play in a community that values and promotes and provides opportunities to participate in the arts.”
For more information about the South Shore Arts & Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, including upcoming events and how to get involved, visit their website here. Be sure to stay up to date while following the band on social media including Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Youtube.