Thursday (4/30) on the Time magazine website, Bob Diddlebock writes, “At the ‘confluence of passion and pragmatism,’ as one executive puts it, a handful of companies across the U.S. continue to support arts organizations in an economy not given to song and dance. The fine arts have been roughed up by this recession, some fatally, like the Baltimore Opera Company. But enterprises such as Omaha Steaks, Target, AutoZone and Olive Garden—despite struggling themselves—are standing by commitments to keep dance troupes, museums, orchestras and theater groups alive one burger, towel set, windshield wiper and pizza at a time. … The Pacific Symphony in Southern California’s Orange County won’t be playing the sounds of silence anytime soon, thanks to the Farmers & Merchants Bank, one of many corporate benefactors. ‘The arts are a very rich part of the fabric of a region, and these organizations depend on companies like ours for support,’ explains Henry Walker, the family-owned institution’s executive vice president, who sits on the symphony’s board. ‘We feel we have a responsibility to them.’ Of the Pacific Symphony’s $17.5 million annual budget, close to $2 million comes from corporate contributions, according to president John Forsyte: ‘We’re scaling back our events, but even companies that may be in rough shape are sticking by us in one way or another.’ ” Omaha Steaks “donates ‘seven figures a year,’ according to [senior vice president Todd] Simon, to the Omaha Symphony, the Omaha Performing Arts Society and Opera Omaha, among others.”

Posted May 1, 2009