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Q&A: Susan Schadt,

Director of ArtsMemphis

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On September 12th, the Greater Memphis Arts Council officially became ArtsMemphis. The rebranding of the Memphis Arts Council, which was founded in 1963 to raise funds for local art groups, is part of an initiative to encourage broader interest in the organization. The Flyer asked Susan Schadt, director of ArtsMemphis, what's in a name?

Michael Flanagan

How Was the Name Chosen?

Choosing a name wasn't easy. We started out with 25 names. As we went through the process, we looked at the different names and realized you can't have Memphis without art and you can't have art without Memphis, so it came out ArtsMemphis. It just made sense — anybody in the world could get that.

How will the new ArtsMemphis change your place in the community?

Louisville, our best city for comparison, has 26,000 donors. They raise $8 million a year. We have 2,500 donors and raise $3 million. The good news is that we have the highest average gift. The bad news is that we haven't done a good enough job of engaging the community.

An important part of the [rebranding] is the tagline: "Your Support Matters." That means a lot to us. What we mean is that every gift matters, every penny matters, and don't think your gift is ever too small.

What projects will you invest in?

Our groups desperately need operating support. Our mission is to provide them those dollars that keeps their lights on and that pay their telephone bills, so that they can go about their jobs.

What place do the arts have in Memphis?

Our cultural sector is authentic. Some cities represent their state or region, but Memphis is important to the world. You say the word "Memphis," and people look up. They love Memphis. They know about Memphis — even if they've never been here.

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