South Shore arts leader postpones retirement to help organization regroup after year like no other

The decision came after consulting with its staff and the board of directors of the nonprofit that is the umbrella organization that oversees the Northwest Indiana Symphony. They decided in April to postpone his previously announced retirement for one year.

“With all the instability resulting from a year of COVID, we thought it was best not to create more (uncertainty),” Cain said.

John Cain welcomes guests to the June 2019 Bal des Beaux Arts art gallery cocktail at the Center des Arts Visuels et du Spectacle in Munster. (Photo by Philip Potempa)

At the end of 2020, Cain announced his retirement schedule, including a written explanation. He also named his successor, as published in the Fall September-November 2020 issue of “Convergence,” the quarterly South Shore Arts magazine.

“At the end of the current fiscal year which began July 1, 2020 and ends June 30, 2021, I will retire as Executive Director of South Shore Arts and, by extension, the Symphony,” wrote Cain. “Micah Bornstein was recently appointed deputy director by the board of directors and has started in various executive roles.”

Cain also pledged in his previous 2020 announcement that he would “continue to help as much as possible with fundraising and other projects as needed.”

Formerly called the Northern Indiana Arts Association since 1970, the nonprofit was renamed South Shore Arts in 2006 to reflect a balanced emphasis on music and the visual arts.

With a mission “to stimulate interest and appreciation of art in our region,” the entity came into being in 1936 when 10 artists formed the Hammond District Art Association with members limited to Hammond Artists and Calumet City. When the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana built and opened the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster in 1989, the South Shore Arts and the Northwest Indiana Symphony moved their headquarters to the site at 1040 Ridge Road.

“When I became CEO in October 1993, we recognized that our relatively new home at the Center for the Visual and Performing Arts was a dream come true,” said Cain. “But we also became a ‘country club arts organization’, in light of our programming that seemed to be exclusively for a privileged class of people in a multi-million dollar building.”

Cain said that after this wake-up call, the organization immediately took stock of the region’s diversity and identified ways to serve it, making its facilities and programming more accessible to everyone.

One of the dominant challenges Cain has conquered in recent years has been the December 2017 closure (and subsequent demolition in 2018) of the 3,400-seat Star Theater in Merrillville, which, for more than three decades, hosted performances for the Northwest Indiana Symphony. In early 2020, the NWI Symphony, under the direction of Maestro Kirk Muspratt for the past two decades, announced that it had found a permanent home with concerts planned for the new season in the over 1,000-seat auditorium. from Living Hope Church to Crown. Point.

After a year of canceled concerts and hiatus due to the pandemic, in April 2021, Cain and Muspratt hailed the return of in-person concerts with limited audiences and social distancing. Unveiled on April 9 during the first of three spring concerts, the performance trio continued with a date of May 14 and then a concert of June 18, the latter announced as “Kirk’s Return!”

“John Cain has been our guiding force through this pandemic,” said Tammie Miller, marketing coordinator for the Northwest Indiana Symphony. “We remain safe while maintaining a cautious optimism about the number of attendees, and also balancing the programming of virtual concerts with in-person audiences.

“Our April concert had about 75-100 people attending in person, and then, while monitoring the numbers and guidelines from the health department, we are ideally hoping for increased attendance by the date of the concert. June and summer outdoor concerts, ”she said. “It is John’s leadership that is helping us through what has been the most difficult year anyone has ever had in our organization.”

Cain said the pandemic resulted in losses of “well over $ 250,000” due to the cancellation of the Bal des Beaux-Arts annual charity gala dinner in 2020, as well as canceled art classes and lost income in the organization’s famous gift shop.

He said the organization had received a payroll protection loan, as well as a $ 50,000 loan from the National Endowment for the Arts’ CARES Act funding, as well as generous support from its donors, sponsors and commercial subscribers.

Click here for more information on the June-July 2021 issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.

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