While the wealth management firm United Capital provides financial guidance to clients, it also has made a serious investment in the Memphis arts community by sponsoring this holiday’s Nut ReMix performance by the New Ballet Ensemble (NBE).
“For us, it is not just about work and wealth, but also about serving,” says Michael Deutsch, managing director of the Memphis office of United Capital. “We believe in giving back to our community — we’re Memphians serving Memphians. We personally and professionally invest our time and money in our community. We do so by giving our employees time off for their individual volunteer endeavors and by supporting their deeper engagement as board members of area nonprofit organizations.”
The partnership with NBE gives students from Binghampton Christian Academy a chance to expand their exposure to the arts. The outing has become a holiday tradition for the youngsters. “Our sponsorship not only provides buses for transporting the children and tickets for the performance, but this opportunity allows students to see some of their peers performing at a very high level of talent,” says Deutsch. “That exposure is invaluable in encouraging students to see themselves on the stage, too, or feel empowered to reach for their dreams.”
“Founded in 2001, New Ballet Ensemble and School is a thriving after-school dance program in the heart of Cooper-Young,” says Katie Smythe, founding CEO and artistic director of NBE. “Aspiring dancers from vastly diverse backgrounds come together on a daily basis where the common denominators are excellence and innovation.”
“Nut ReMix is in its 16th year,” says Julie Goebl, director of administration and philanthropy for NBE. “It is a Memphis-based take on the Nutcracker that includes all kinds of dance styles and a tweak to the storyline. For instance, it is set on Beale Street, and the skirmish between the mice and the soldiers is a hip-hop battle with a peaceful resolution between the warring sides.”
For the students, Goebl says Nut ReMix is a very exciting performance. The Memphis Symphony Orchestra performs along with the dancers. Lil Buck (Charles Riley), a world-renowned dancer from South Memphis and graduate of the NBE program, takes part as well.
The collaboration evolved from the interest of Jeni Linkous, a senior relationship manager for United Capital. Her daughter was a student at NBE and Linkous wanted to support her endeavors. She is now a board member for the nonprofit arts organization.
“United Capital began supporting NBE with what we call ‘time, talent, and treasure,’” says Deutsch. “Jeni gives of her time and talents, and we provide financial donations. It follows our ACE format: A: provide access to resources, C: connectivity (personal contacts), and E: embrace (embracing the youth in Memphis). Sometimes you just need to be present.”
This collaboration is also an example of leveraging impact. Deutsch has served on the board of Binghampton Christian Academy for several years. Through that experience he realized that supporting New Ballet’s Nut ReMix performance was a means of serving a variety of United Capital’s initiatives through one endeavor.
“Nut ReMix would be impossible for us to produce without support from for-profit businesses in the Memphis community,” says Smythe. “By providing transportation and tickets, United Capital is opening a window to the world of performing arts so that these students, if they are inspired, can walk through a door to a bigger world.”
Deutsch says, “Memphis is a city that is very kind and charitable. We need to keep building our collaborations and recognize that we can find those Memphis stories in need of support. Memphis can do this all on its own — not copy something from somewhere else. Our collaboration with New Ballet Ensemble is an example of what makes Memphis so authentic. Everybody has a role to play. Memphis has such momentum — we need to get on board and serve.”