Why do you support the arts in Wabash County? Four businesses fill us in

From murals to museums to musicals and education programs, Northeast Indiana's arts and culture scene is robust. And it takes a village of support to achieve.

In Wabash County, Honeywell Arts & Entertainment is the area's largest provider of arts events and programming. Even so, a nonprofit like Honeywell can only survive with the support of its surrounding business community. 

Currently, 160 businesses and organizations support Honeywell annually with gifts ranging from $100 to $20,000+. These gifts support Honeywell’s programs and mission, including its concerts and shows at the Honeywell Center Ford Theater and Eagles Theater, programming at the Honeywell House, Dr. James Ford Historic Home, Charley Creek Gardens, and movies at the Eagles Theater and 13-24 Drive-In. Funding also supports the Honeywell Arts in Education program, which last year provided arts programming at 88 Indiana schools. 

While one story couldn’t possibly capture the perspective of all 160 donors, four companies in the Wabash area share why they’ve chosen to support the arts in their community.

Gifts support the Honeywell Center Ford Theater and Eagles Theater, programming at the Honeywell House, Dr. James Ford Historic Home, Charley Creek Gardens, and movies at the Eagles Theater and 13-24 Drive-In.
 

Midwest Eye Consultants Leslie Frantz, Chief Marketing Officer, for Midwest Eye Consultants.

“Art exposes you to things that you don't necessarily think of otherwise in a small community.”

-Leslie Frantz, Chief Marketing Officer

Midwest Eye Consultants has provided eye health care since 1992. Today, they have more than 50 offices in Indiana and Ohio, with their home office located in Wabash. Leslie Frantz, Chief Marketing Officer for Midwest Eye, has been with the company for almost 22 years. She says Midwest Eye has been a financial supporter of Honeywell Arts & Entertainment for 15 years.

Those who have visited the Honeywell Center in recent years may know exactly how Midwest Eye Consultants supports the organization. About six years ago, they gifted a named space in the building: Midwest Eye Consultants Concessions. 

With their sponsorship comes several complimentary tickets and opportunities to attend shows at Honeywell facilities throughout the year. This gives Midwest Eye's team both a way to encourage employee engagement in the Wabash community and to promote their business on social media. 

“Sometimes, we will do a fun contest on Facebook where our patients can win a pair of tickets," she says.

Midwest Eye has been a financial supporter of Honeywell Arts & Entertainment for six years.

In this way, supporting the arts has a direct symbiotic relationship with Midwest Eye's business and attachment in the Wabash area. Frantz says employees are generally proud of their partnership with Honeywell Arts & Entertainment, too. And investing in the arts gives Midwest Eye a way to invest in the next generation—the future of Wabash.

“It's great to see children exposed to the arts because I think it sets them on a unique path," Frantz says. "It encourages them to be creative and to collaborate. Art exposes you to things that you don't necessarily think of otherwise in a small community.”

First Farmers Bank & Trust Tade Powell, Senior Vice President and Director of Communications and PR for First Farmers Bank & Trust.

“The arts represent humanity’s pursuit and promotion of the things that humans are passionate about. They remind us of the reasons why we are the species most able to sense the world around us and can impact change positively.” 

-Tade Powell, Senior Vice President and Director of Communications and PR

Midwest Eye Consultants isn’t the only business to have a named space in the Honeywell Center. After you grab your concession items, you can find your way to the First Farmers Connection space; an area designed for fellowship and conversation. 

First Farmers Connection space at the Honeywell Center is an area designed for fellowship and conversation. 

First Farmers Bank & Trust has 35 locations in Indiana and Illinois. Tade Powell, Senior Vice President and Director of Communications and PR, says First Farmers has been a supporter of Honeywell Arts & Entertainment for at least 20 years. From a young age, Powell was exposed to the arts. His aunt was an artist in Indianapolis and his parents were very enthusiastic about exposing him to the realm of art. In high school, he participated in choir and various stage performances; the arts have always been a part of his world. So, Powell really appreciates that First Farmers decided to partner with Honeywell many years ago. 

“The arts represent humanity’s pursuit and promotion of the things that humans are passionate about," Powell says. "They remind us of the reasons why we are the species most able to sense the world around us and can impact change positively.”

The Honeywell Center is located at 275 W. Market St. in Wabash. 

Having a strong arts community benefits business and community well-being. Powell believes “positive shared experiences and fellowship directly translates to commerce," too. 

"Commerce in communities leads to growth, sustainability, and civic wellbeing,” he says. 

So, it’s no coincidence that First Farmers Bank & Trust decided to provide a space for just that: Shared experience and fellowship. Powell says that what First Farmers has received in return is positive experiences through Honeywell, which is tenfold compared to what they have contributed monetarily to the organization.

Kalenborn Abresist Troy Ray, CFO of North American Operations for Kalenborn Abresist, says that Kalenborn has partnered with Honeywell since 2018.

“It’s important for kids to be educated in the arts and be given the opportunity to express themselves through different types of art." 

-Troy Ray, CFO of North American Operations

In addition to funding amenities at the Honeywell Center, small area businesses have also pursued partnerships with Honeywell Arts & Entertainment to sponsor specific shows in the region. One such partner is Kalenborn Abresist Corporation, a German-owned company located in Urbana, Ind., that specializes in abrasion and wear resistant linings. Customers of Kalenborn Abresist include the power, cement, chemical, coal, building products, mining, paper, and food industries. 

Troy Ray, CFO of North American Operations, says that Kalenborn has partnered with Honeywell since 2018. In that time, they’ve sponsored many shows, including recently serving as the Associate Sponsor for STOMP in April. 

Ray has a personal affection for the arts. His wife works for the Creative Arts Council of Wells County and both his wife and daughter are musicians. For Ray, art is an opportunity to “disconnect from other things and enjoy the finer things in life.” He believes that community support of the arts is crucial. 

“It’s important for kids to be educated in the arts and be given the opportunity to express themselves through different types of art that are made possible through organizations like the Honeywell Foundation,” Ray says. 

Friends Counseling Tonya Scalf is Executive Director of Friends Counseling, which began a partnership with Honeywell Arts & Entertainment in 2018.

"As a counseling center, we want to support the ways in which individuals can either express themselves or come to a place where they can relate and connect to someone else’s expression.” 

-Tonya Scalf, Executive Director 

Having a strong arts emphasis in communities may affect the mental health of its members. Friends Counseling has been part of the Wabash community since 1993 but has since opened offices in five neighboring communities. Tonya Scalf, Executive Director, is a champion of the arts and is proud of the partnership that Friends Counseling has with Honeywell Arts & Entertainment. They began their partnership in 2018 and most recently sponsored the NewSong and Big Daddy Weave Christmas Show in December 2021. 

As a mental health provider, Scalf believes the arts allow people to express themselves. 

“We are created as individuals to create and express ourselves, and the arts in all its different forms allow us to do that," she says. "As a counseling center, we want to support the ways in which individuals can either express themselves or come to a place where they can relate and connect to someone else’s expression.” 

Scalf believes the Honeywell Center draws people to Wabash, which makes a big impact and provides stability within the community. 

“We’re only as good as our partners,” she says. “We can’t live without each other, so when you have organizations, like Honeywell, it allows the rest of the community to flourish. And as you help the community, you’re also helping individuals.” 

Scalf says that the vision and heart of Honeywell Arts & Entertainment is for the community. She’s thankful “to partner with an organization that is providing an element of joy in the world.” 

Photos by Christie Cochran

Wabash is the focus of a Partner City series in Input Fort Wayne underwritten by Visit Wabash County and Honeywell Arts & Entertainment. This series will capture the story of talent, creativity, investment, innovation, and emerging assets shaping the future of Wabash County, about an hour Southwest of Fort Wayne.

To learn more about a partnership with Honeywell Arts & Entertainment, contact Eric Seaman (​​[email protected]) or Beth Squires ([email protected]).