Arts & Business: Philanthropy At Its Finest

Arts and culture comes in many forms, and in Volusia County there is a plethora of local art galleries, performing arts venues and theaters. One of the area’s most well-known locations for art is the Museum of Arts and Sciences, in the heart of Daytona Beach.

The expansive museum, located on the grounds of the Tuscawilla Preserve, has seen some of the most significant contributions to the museum occur as a result of philanthropic efforts, led by prominent Volusia County families and businesses.

Dating back to the early 20th century, the Root family is known for their company’s creation of the iconic Coca-Cola bottle in 1915 and the relocation of the booming family business to Volusia County in 1951.

Their story is legendary, and the museum showcases the Root family’s unrivaled collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia, family heirlooms and Americana art, and even two fully restored train carriages used by the family for travel, inside the Root Family wing of the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

As a second generation resident of Volusia County, Preston Root, board member of the Community Foundation of Volusia & Flagler, has seen the Root Company’s business expand to include the hospitality and real estate industries, and how the family’s philanthropic giving of resources has benefited the community in which he and his children call home.

According to Root, it’s tangible results and access to information that are playing key roles in driving the next generation of families and businesses to get involved.

“The difference between our parents’ generation and my generation and my children’s generation is the access to information, access to the facts and figures,” he said. “Whether it’s the United Way and their Community Impact Report, the Museum of Arts and Sciences and a visit to the website and then the campus and museum, or an educational institution locally, (like) Daytona State College or Embry-Riddle (Aeronautical University), you can see what your impact through philanthropy is providing,” he said.

Identifying the philanthropic needs of an arts, cultural or humanities nature allows those looking to make a difference visualize their contribution’s direct impact on the community.

“(It’s) a coordinated assessment of the need, and you combine that with the opportunity to help – for young people that’s their motivation to donate and help. Most people don’t consider themselves philanthropists, they consider themselves people that are helping,” said Root.

A similar philosophy is echoed by philanthropists Cici and Hyatt Brown.

As the second generation of the Brown family to take the helm of the insurance business Brown & Brown, Inc., started in 1939 by Hyatt’s father Adrian Brown, the company has grown to become a leader in their industry.

Success has enabled the Browns to give back to the community in a meaningful way.

Adding to the allure of the Museum of Arts and Sciences, the couple opened the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art in 2015, offering a look inside one of the largest private collections of Florida art in the world.

The power couple, whose love of the Museum of Arts and Sciences began with volunteerism in the early 1970’s, created the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art to showcase meticulously restored Florida art, dating back to the 19th century. The museum addition has helped elevate and enhance the arts and cultural offerings in the community, while preserving renderings of Florida’s bygone landmarks.

Hyatt Brown says it’s what they have always envisioned for the museum addition, and the community’s embrace of the space has bolstered his other goal – to create an endowment to ensure the museum’s sustainability for generations to come.

“It’s becoming a place that people want to go to, not just for the paintings and the cultural enjoyment but because the ambiance of the museum becomes interesting and intriguing,” he said. “The good thing is, as an attraction, it’s allowed the main part of the museum to become better known.”

The establishment of a $15 million endowment to support the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art has ensured the sustainability of the operations for the future, and in January 2019 the couple launched the $10 million endowment campaign for the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

The Browns have pledged to match donations two-to-one in support of the museum, an undertaking they feel is important to the community’s future.

“If the museum is going to be in a growth area, and Volusia County is a growth area, it has a greater responsibility to do more things culturally for the community, and that costs money,” said Brown. “It’s our town. This is where we came up and I grew up. We have an obligation to the community, and we’ve been fortunate in that we can afford to give back substantially so that others may benefit.”

The same desire to foster arts in Volusia County is felt by the International Speedway Corporation, started by another pillar of the community, the France family.

As International Speedway Boulevard continues evolving into a world class destination, the addition of ONE DAYTONA has been a major step toward achieving this goal. Showcasing art in public places is a key factor in beautifying the area while maintaining the defining attributes of Daytona Beach, including the iconic 1920’s Jantzen Diving Girl mannequin, a fixture in the area since the 1960’s, installed at ONE DAYTONA this January.

What began as a dream for Lesa France Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer of the International Speedway Corporation, was inspired by Legends Outlet in Kansas City, located near the Kansas Speedway. Combining luxury lifestyle and retail opportunities the space offers a chance to enjoy art and live entertainment, all in one place. While the ONE DAYTONA concept has grown into a premier destination along International Speedway Boulevard, the inclusion of local artists adds flair to the sprawling property interwoven with national and international brands.

“With ONE DAYTONA, our goal was to create a community epicenter here,” said Lesa France Kennedy, ISC CEO. “Public art rose to the top as a way to significantly enhance our common areas, creating a lasting connection to the distinct culture and uniqueness that makes the Daytona Beach area such a special place,” she said.

Among the commissioned artists is Libby Ware, a Port Orange sculptor, whose work is featured in two installations on the property – a mixed media sculpture that incorporates a fountain and signatures of area dignitaries and a set of five eye-catching aluminum panels. Throughout the project, she has seen the International Speedway Corporation’s commitment to arts and culture in Volusia County.

“The ISC is very tightly tied to the community here,” said Ware. “They’re very involved in supporting all kinds of artistic, social, and performance endeavors, so in that outlook, they do commonly use local talent. I think it really is the focus of the Speedway Corporation and their relationship with the community,” she said.

Expanding the relationships within the community to include the next generation of budding artists, ONE DAYTONA works with the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach for a children’s art program, according to Ribakoff.

“The local art piece is an important part of integrating the local artists so that people felt more connected to the community and it’s a good representation of what’s going on here in the Daytona Beach area,” said Ribakoff.

The arts and culture in a community is supported through a number of avenues, and Giving USA released last year’s report on charitable giving, citing $19.51 billion dedicated for arts, culture and humanity causes – just 5 percent of the overall charitable contributions for 2017. While philanthropic giving broke the $400 billion mark for the first time ever, the vast majority came from individuals, with corporations coming in last place.

Andrew Sandall, executive director for the Museum of Arts and Sciences, has seen grant dollars become more competitive while dwindling, and he knows it’s the community who can help make a difference in sustainability for the 250,000 patrons they serve annually.

Relying on creativity and innovation, Sandall works closely with not only individual donors but also businesses to tailor opportunities for them to support the work of the museum while enjoying the benefits that come with their generosity.

The exhibit sponsors program, corporate memberships, private parties, client appreciation days and sponsorships for events, like last year’s Passport to the Jazz Age fundraiser which allowed guests to be recognized for their sponsorship by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, are just a few of the ways the museum is engaging the community.

“We try to keep it fun,” he said. “We love getting feedback and having the business community saying they see a way we can work together.”

“What we try to do is help people understand their value to the community, so when people give us their philanthropic giving, they understand that they’re not just doing it as something for them, but it’s being passed down and they’re allowing the next generation to come and see what we’ve got here,” he said.