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Omaha Magazine

Immanuel Communities & Omaha Community Playhouse

Sep 21, 2023 03:50PM ● By Tamsen Butler
biz giving immanuel

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

When companies become sponsors at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP), they typically underwrite one specific show as a presenting sponsor. But when Immanuel Communities approached OCP to pursue sponsorship, they were looking for something beyond that.

“Immanuel came in and was looking for something a bit more broad, so we ended up creating a special sponsorship for them,” explained Edwin Lyons, director of development for OCP. Lyons joined the OCP team a little over a year ago, so the sponsorship with Immanuel Communities was already established at his arrival, but he quickly realized the importance of the relationship. 

Lyons added that support from Immanuel Communities—and all OCP’s sponsors— “shows the importance of community engagement [and] displays the great importance of what cultural arts does to societal development and economic development. It’s an amplifier for creativity.”

Eric Gurley, CEO of Immanuel Communities, agreed. “Art is part of what makes life more fulfilling. We see the benefit that OCP brings to the community. They have an outstanding level of quality in their productions. It’s a valuable service to the folks in Omaha.”

Immanuel Communties provides a host of retirement solutions for seniors in Nebraska and Iowa, from assisted living homes to long-term care and home-based support. 

The relationship between OCP and Immanuel Communities began around 2017 or 2018, Gurley estimated. Nowadays, Immanuel Communities is the Hawkes Main Stage Series Sponsor, a sponsorship role that lasts the entire year. “They are our largest annual production sponsor,” Lyons said.

In return, Immanuel Communities enjoys myriad benefits. The organization receives tickets to every preview night in addition to ticket vouchers, which they can give to staff or clients. Employees at Immanuel Communities also enjoy an employee discount when purchasing tickets to OCP shows. 

“They get a lot of signage benefits,” Lyons added. “They’re quite visible.”

Immanuel Communities is visible, indeed, throughout the Playhouse facility at 69th and Cass streets, as well as in its media. From logos on show tickets to ads in programs to signs and prominent placement on the electronic outdoor sign, Immanuel Communities’ support of the local arts is on full display at OCP.

“They’ve been very generous with their acknowledgment,” said Gurley, who personally realizes the vast importance of supporting the arts locally. “We recognize that in a small community like Omaha, without corporate support, we wouldn’t have the thriving arts community we have.”

Gurley, who used to live on the East Coast, said that he and his family can enjoy the arts here in Omaha more than they ever did before moving here. “It’s because of the ease,” he said. “The ease of transportation, the ease of getting in and out…it’s just so accessible here in Omaha. 

“Our philosophy is that life is body, mind, and spirit—that’s the core value of our organization internally as well,” Gurley added. “People should age with dignity, and a part of [enabling] that is having an enriching offering within the community itself. Art is part of what makes life more fulfilling.”

Immanuel Communities, which is also a major sponsor of the Omaha Symphony, believes in setting an example for corporate citizenship and encourages others to join them for the greater good.

“We challenge other companies to also help support the arts because it helps us attract people into the community, so it serves a lot of purposes. The Playhouse is a tremendous asset to the community and those who live here,” Gurley said.

Immanuel Communities once co-owned Alegent Health, but after they sold their interest to CHI they created a foundation with grant money for community nonprofit organizations. “We’ve given away about $20 million to the community,” Gurley revealed.

The relationship between OCP and Immanuel Communities is mutually beneficial. “Their demographic and our demographic go well together,” Lyons said. “I don’t think it’s a secret that [OCP] subscribers…the majority are in that age 60 and above, near retirement age.”

“Those people that call Immanuel home and older people really do appreciate the arts,” Gurley added. “It’s a privilege to have the type of sponsorship we have with OCP. It supports the community, and it supports our business.”

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This article originally appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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