A New Venue?

Position::Brief Article

Alternative sites for company gatherings include museums, theaters and gardens.

In his new job as a facilities scheduler with the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Jeffrey McKinney is quickly learning why some companies are looking for alternative places to hold corporate events. His first on-the-job task was to handle a meeting for a Fort Wayne advertising company last fall.

"They were looking for something away from the temptations of shops and crowds. During breaks it's a release to wander into an art gallery rather than slip into a hallway to grab a cup of coffee and a Danish," says McKinney. His is just one of the non-traditional meeting facilities across the state that are courting meeting planners and finding increasing demand.

McKinney says opening the museum to corporate events helps introduce people to the museum who might not otherwise get a chance to visit and view the exhibits. For example, tickets for the special exhibition beginning in September, "Gifts to the Tsars, 1500-1700 Treasures from the Kremlin," will be part of the rental fee for companies planning meetings.

The IMA, on 152 acres not far from downtown Indianapolis, is convenient for corporate events while providing a secluded setting. The DeBoest lecture hall seats 150, and a special-events area seats up to 125 for dinner. A boardroom, complete with original artwork and windows overlooking the gardens, accommodates 35.

For holiday parties and banquets the IMA's Herron Hall accommodates 300. For more intimate gatherings, the Italianate-style; Clowes Courtyard -- with its grand staircase, stone floor and fountain--makes an impressive setting for gatherings of 35 to 50 people.

The Swope Art Museum in downtown Terre Haute is another Indiana art museum opening its doors to corporate events, says Andrea Ondish, programs and exhibitions coordinator. The museum, long considered one of the hidden treasures of west-central Indiana, recently underwent a major renovation to showcase its collection of 19th- and 20th-century American art.

Availability of rental space is a matter of word of mouth; the Swope doesn't advertise. But recently it put procedures in place to accommodate business functions. It's especially suited for cocktail receptions for as many as 200 people, says Ondish. Gallery 5, still under renovation, will likely be available for dinners of up to 60.

Like the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Swope Art Museum, the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster...

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