Arsht Center launches new business-focused group


With a luncheon and talk from former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Adrienne Arsht Center Foundation Leadership Committee officially launched.

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts hosted a group of more than 100 business and community leaders Tuesday for a luncheon atop the Knight Concert Hall stage, an intimate conversation with former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley — and, ideally, $100,000.

There were no obvious solicitations for money — that will come later — but the event served as the official kickoff for the Adrienne Arsht Center Foundation Leadership Committee, an effort to engage entrepreneurs and corporations with opportunities tailored to the business community.

So far, the committee has 10 founding members who have pledged $25,000 a year for four years, including Inktel Holdings and the law firms Colson Hicks Eidson and Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson.

Suzanna Valdez, vice president of advancement for the Arsht Center, said there’s no firm target for how many members the committee should have. The goal, she said, is to grow the group thoughtfully and give corporations and individuals who haven’t supported the county-owned center reason to do so.

In addition to exclusive privileges and events, members would have a say in what kind of programming their contributions would fund, she said.

“This is inviting the business community to get further engaged and involved,” she said.

Tuesday’s event, which was underwritten by Northern Trust and free to attendees, focused on the importance of public-private partnerships and the relationship between arts, business and cities. Daley, mayor of Chicago from 1989-2011, spoke about the city’s popular Millennium Park and the involvement of businesses, foundations and philanthropists in its creation.

“Everything that you see in Millennium Park is donated,” he said.

Daley, who was joined by former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, emphasized the importance of the government working on partnerships with the private sector — but not managing such projects.

“I’ve always believed that government cannot do everything,” he said. “We have to look at the business community as an asset, not a liability.”

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