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Omaha Magazine

Bound by Giving: Opera Omaha and Kinghorn Gardens

Sep 29, 2022 03:21PM ● By Leo Adam Biga
bryan and michele kinghorn of kinghorn gardens

Photo by Bill Sitzmann    

Opera Omaha and corporate community partner Kinghorn Gardens share like-minded cultures. 

It began when Bryan Kinghorn wrote to Opera Omaha general director Roger Weitz offering support. 

“We like accompanying people in their success,” Bryan said. He and wife Michele so admire the nonprofit’s commitment to community engagement that they’ve served as advisors and development committee members in addition to hosting a networking event. Their full-service landscape business’ horticultural team installs gala gardens.

“We’re sort of engrained in the fabric of it all,” Bryan said. “The group at Opera Omaha are just great people. They’re very grateful for anything and everything you can do for them and they’re very supportive of us as well. It’s really a good fit.”

Reciprocal giving, he said, “creates goodness.” Growing up in the Nebraska Panhandle town of Morrill, he learned “a little bit from a lot of people makes a big difference.” 

“Everybody rallied around trying to make sure the collective community was supported. I saw that as part of life—you give what you can when you can.” 

Opera Omaha managing director Shannon Walenta commends the Kinghorns’ generosity. “They are a very altruistic couple who understand the importance of giving back. The galas are a big piece of it. They’ve done some exquisite work with our design teams for those events.” 

The galas unfold in nontraditional spaces that transport patrons to new worlds. “The Kinghorns have been a big part of achieving that vision,” Weitz said. “Their collaboration on galas is very tangible. They lend expertise, donate in-kind services, and provide unique installations. It’s fun to have their artistic participation in addition to being wonderful supporters, friends, and colleagues.”  

For the A Flowering Tree gala, Kinghorn Gardens devised rustic centerpieces and sourced 2,400 square feet of fresh sod to create a lush green carpet to warm an abandoned storefront in winter.

“It was an unexpected encounter for all those people coming to the gala,” Bryan recalled. 

At Kimpton Cottonwool Hotel in Blackstone, Kinghorn Gardens fashioned a botanical conservatory in a poolside tent.

Just as Opera Omaha thinks outside the box in  reimagining venues, Michele said, “we’re willing to try and make the unusual happen.” 

“These are great exercises that help us to be more creative,” Bryan said. “We’re interested in the art of the possible. That’s really how small businesses thrive. You have to constantly be looking for not only what is but for what’s possible and try to say yes to opportunities that come before you.”

The organizations share aesthetic missions, Weitz said.  “We’re both trying to deliver for our patrons: beauty, art, and space…to reflect in and get in touch with something bigger than ourselves.” 

It’s about enhancing the quality of life through inspiring environments, said the Kinghorns. “You involve people in a whole experience and they feel it,” Michele explained. “That’s how it is when a garden (or a show) really hits the spot for people.” 

“Important things happen in gardens,” Bryan noted. “Peace treaties are signed in gardens. People get married in gardens. They’re great places to commune with nature and to enjoy life, color, beauty. They evoke memories. They memorialize loved ones.” Little wonder, he said, greenscapes move people just as operas do.

Partnering with Opera Omaha, he said, “taught me you don’t have to be a giant corporation to help people in the arts.” He and Michele deliver that message to other small business owners.

“I’m grateful to them for making the case for why it’s good business to invest in the nonprofit sector,” Weitz said. 

And don’t expect the couple to rest on their laurels (not the garden variety). “They are incredibly humble people,” Walenta shared. “They never want recognition. They do what they do because they believe it’s the right thing. We’re fortunate to have them in our opera family.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

Photo by Bill Sitzmann    


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