By Woody Woodruff, Executive Director, Campanile Center for the Arts
The Sharing the Spotlight program at the Campanile Center for the Arts in Minocqua celebrated its first birthday in September with a sense of accomplishment. That feeling, however, was also tempered with a feeling of how much more there is to do in our community.
The concept originated for us in December 2009 when musician George Winston performed at the Campanile and revealed that food pantries were his charity of choice. Mr. Winston generously agreed to donate the sales of his CDs to the local pantry. In addition, we incorporated a food and monetary drive in the Campanile lobby and held a post performance reception with all proceeds going to the pantry. For a small community we were thrilled to be able to generate approximately $3,000 right before the holidays, which meant a Christmas dinner for residents who otherwise might not have enjoyed one. It was incredible how the area pulled together for the cause while getting to see a great concert as well.
At that point we understood the power that a community has to help others. Every area has several worthy nonprofit organizations and charities that, like the arts centers, are all struggling for survival. In this world it too often seems like it is “every man for themselves” to try to generate whatever funds they can, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As an arts center and community gathering place, we are fortunate to have the visibility and platform to be in the public’s eye, but this isn’t the case for many of the others. So many worthy organizations escape the public’s attention, even though their causes are vital to the communities in which they exist. Campanile set out to change that.
Over the past year, Sharing the Spotlight recipients have included the Tri County Council on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault, the Lakeland Pantry, Firebird Foundation, North Lakeland Education Foundation and the AVW Foundation, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Lakeland Sharing Foundation, Community Food Pantry, the Blood Center, Habitat for Humanity, the Northern Wisconsin Literacy Task Force, the Senior Center, Northwoods Wildlife Center and the Minocqua Museum. During that year the program has helped to raise several thousands of dollars for the partnering organizations, but the benefits don’t end there. Partners also added members, volunteers, sponsors, workers, donors, mentors and public awareness and publicity.
We like to think the Sharing the Spotlight program will have long-range impact, one that will ultimately lead to a higher quality of life in the Minocqua area–not only for the recipients, but for those who give as well. The feeling of community camaraderie and the networking opportunities we’ve built are the frosting on the cake. The program has helped create a bond among local non-profits, while diminishing the sense of competition for donors’ dollars. Through Sharing the Spotlight, we’ve learned that we are all in this together and we all need each other; no one is more important than anyone else.