From Vision to Reality: The Legacy of Honeywell Arts & Entertainment

This story is made possible by support from Honeywell Arts & Entertainment.
Long after the curtains close, performers take a bow, and guests shuffle out, the long-lasting impact of Honeywell Arts &  Entertainment is felt deeply throughout Wabash and the surrounding region. 

The organization’s mission is to provide arts, education, and entertainment for all. Whether it’s bringing world-class performing arts programming or innovative Arts in Education, Honeywell Arts & Entertainment’s work is helping to make  Wabash a destination. With seven unique venues in Wabash, the organization proudly carries on the spirit of its founder, the visionary industrialist Mark C. Honeywell. Honeywell Arts & Entertainment venues include the Honeywell Center,  Eagles Theatre, Honeywell House, Charley Creek Gardens, Dr. Ford Historic Home, 13-24 Drive In, and the Clarkson  House. 

Visitors make their way through the Honeywell Center.Tod Minnich, Honeywell Arts & Entertainment president and CEO, returned to Indiana almost 20 years ago. In that time, he says he has witnessed many memorable moments within the performing arts world. 

“Honeywell serves as an asset to create quality of life, not only in Wabash but throughout the greater region,” says Minnich. “We create quality of place and provide opportunities that aren’t available in many small towns. We hope people will come together here, as a community, to enjoy and celebrate and have a great time experiencing arts and entertainment.” 

Cathy Gatchel, chief development officer at Honeywell Arts & Entertainment, oversees fundraising, education, and arts enrichment program offerings. Gatchel says the organization's mission today symbolizes the innovative thinking of its founder. 

A show at the Honeywell Center.“We employ a mentality that resonates the same way that Mark C. Honeywell approached much of his decision-making,” says Gatchel. “He did things in this community that maybe didn’t make sense for a community of our size, like building this large facility and having the type of amenities that now we’ve all come to appreciate. At the time, it was an  innovative and entrepreneurial move – that kind of spirit continues today.” 

Thanks to that innovative spirit, Wabash is designated as a statewide Cultural District, featuring two and a half miles of walkable terrain, a performing arts center known as the Honeywell Center, community bike trails, public art, new housing,  unique boutiques, and small businesses. Gatchel says it’s rare for a city of this size to be featured and designated as such. 

“We’re one of the few small towns that have been designated as a Cultural District, and I feel like that speaks to  Honeywell’s role in that,” she says. “We bring world-class talent in for performances, as well as our education programming and artistic enrichment initiatives. We try to have opportunities for lifelong experiences and love of the arts.” 

Honeywell Arts AcademyPart of those lifelong arts and cultural experiences start with students in the classroom. Exposure to the arts can help young students improve motor skills, focus, collaboration, creativity, confidence, and overall academic performance.  Honeywell Arts In Education features a collection of programs for educators to use in their classrooms at little to no cost to schools. The initiative provides more than 51,000 student interactions across 14 counties and 85 schools in Indiana annually. Programming includes Visual Thinking Strategies, Arts Integration, CommUNITY Arts, Art Shows and Banner  Contests, Student Matinees, and an accredited Media Arts Program. 

“We’ve seen such demand for these programs because we’re accomplishing those goals for the students, teachers, and school systems,” Minnich says. “We continue to expand our footprint and provide as many opportunities as possible.  Ultimately, we’d love to be in every school in our region with each program we have.” 
Gatchel says providing future generations with art experiences today is integral to their mission. 

Honeywell Arts Academy"It's always been a part of our mission to serve, and partnering with our educational institutions helps ensure that future generations appreciate the value of the arts," she says. "That's a big part of what we do, and we want to try to serve as much as we can across our region. It speaks to why we do the work we do." 

Ranaan Meyer knows the importance of music and the arts as a touring musician in the GRAMMY-winning trio Time for  Three. In addition to his role as a touring artist, Meyer and double bass colleagues founded the Wabass Institute over 16  years ago. Wabass Institute was developed with a vision for faculty mentors to spend time with fellowship scholars in a  tuition-free environment. In 2021, the Wabass Institute evolved into the Honeywell Arts Academy, which is nestled under the umbrella of Honeywell Arts & Entertainment, where Meyer serves as the artistic director. The Honeywell Arts Academy is comprised of three full-scholarship, one-week-long institutes for double bassists, pianists, and emerging entrepreneurial musicians. Each of these institutes – named Wabass, Soundboard, and Resonance – help foster creativity, inclusivity,  and the sharing of knowledge between teachers and students, and vice-versa. 

People make their way to their seats at the Honeywell Center.Meyer says these institutes, which function like retreats, have quite an impact on participants for years to come. 

“We change the way hierarchy works in education for music,” he says. “We all teach and learn together for this short, very saturated period of time. The ultimate goal is to create and facilitate future leaders in and out of music. The long-term effect is that in addition to being great at what they do and being able to inspire and connect with audiences around the world, they also take it upon themselves to have an ambassador's hat on. They have missions to  help humanity, whether performing for cancer research, the healing arts, or helping the next generation of kids find their  way through life with music – inspiring audiences, but also inspiring people to find their way and to help others." 

Participants worldwide attend and for many, Wabash is their first introduction to the United States. 

"The Honeywell Arts Academy brings renowned educators and music scholars from around the world to Wabash," says Honeywell Arts & Entertainment 2023 Board Chair Sally Krouse. "This past year, the Academy welcomed musicians from China, Germany, Canada, and the United States, who were able to experience our Hoosier hospitality." 

An audience at the Honeywell Center.Even outside of the international reach of Honeywell Arts Academy, Honeywell substantially impacts its guests – many of whom are not local to Wabash. Gatchel says of the attendees to the Honeywell Center performances, 81 percent of ticket buyers come from outside Wabash County, furthering the impact on the local area. 

"That number has grown dramatically over the last number of years," she says. "We feel like that's a great benchmark of success that we can continue to draw  people into our community and get them to keep coming back too.” 
Mayor of Wabash, Scott Long, says Honeywell helps bolster the local economy, adding to the downtown vibe and quality of place. 

"The impact of Honeywell Arts & Entertainment is tremendous,” says Long. “We continue to see growth in tourism spending annually, and the recent designation as a Cultural District will add to that growth. The quality of life in  Wabash is second to none in the state of Indiana due to the collaboration of many groups and individuals striving every day to continue improving our community."  

Long says when people come to Wabash for Honeywell programming, it’s an opportunity for them to “see the ‘Wabash  Way,’ the life we live here, the amenities available every day to residents, and the pace of living here. I hope that leads to return visits to enjoy the river, area reservoirs, our museum, and the small towns around the city that are growing businesses for them to visit. We hope they fall in love with Wabash and potentially call it home one day." 

In addition to programming its own venues, Honeywell Arts & Entertainment partners with several venues across Indiana and Ohio, offering expertise, leadership, and services ranging from booking talent to guest relations and marketing support. Among those partner venues are the Long Center and Loeb Stadium in Lafayette. Mayor of Lafayette, Tony  Roswarski, says he appreciates the partnership of Honeywell Arts & Entertainment. 

“The organization generates performing arts and entertainment experiences vital to the strength of Lafayette's continuous growth and enhancement of our community's dynamic cultural landscape,” Roswarski says. “We can amplify our commitment to fostering a vibrant community that celebrates diverse artistic encounters, bringing residents and visitors together. Our shared vision with Honeywell Arts &  Entertainment as a partner in programming these experiences bolster our goals to cultivate experiences, build a vibrant  community, and provide a high quality of life in Lafayette." 

The Clark GalleryIn 2022, Honeywell Arts & Entertainment presented a total of 129 live performances at Honeywell-owned and partner venues.
The sense of connection, community, and quality of life is at the heart of every piece of programming at Honeywell Arts &  Entertainment. The goal is to develop a love for the arts at a young age, to keep visitors coming back, and to foster a  lifelong cultural journey. 
"We want to make sure we're the place that people come to time and again," Gatchel says. "We want to be the place where memories are made, special occasions are honored, and overall, lives are enriched. We don't want to be a place where you only go once. We want to be that place you go to, discover, and keep finding new ways to be involved."
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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Michigan native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over the Midwest. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, nonprofits, and community.