Written By Josie Gulliksen
November 20, 2018 at 7:55 PM

Miami’s arts leaders gathered at The Sandrell Rivers Theatre in Liberty City recently to learn more about the Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts, a newly formed organization with a mission to empower financial sustainability for artists, professionals and non-profit arts groups. IFWA was founded by Darren Sussman; his brother Erik Sussman serves as Chairman.

 The event was presented by the South Florida Theatre League. Their President, Andie Arthur, introduced the Sussman brothers prior to their informative presentation.

 Darren is past President and  Co-founder of both TheaterMania and Ovation Tix. “In times of acute financial pressure, rising costs and reductions in public funding for the arts, it’s never been more important for artists and arts professionals to take self-ownership for their own individual financial security.”

 In his portion of the presentation, he shared his experience of founding TheaterMania when he was a 27 year old musician. “I come from the arts, originally as a musician who had to deal with my own lack of financial confidence and discipline,” he explained. “Through the life-changing experience of building a thriving arts-focused business, and having been lucky enough to have surrounded myself with the right people to help guide me along the way, I’m ready to share what I have learned to help an industry segment that is mostly overlooked by the financial world,” said Darren.

His brother Erik, CEO of Mass Mutual South Florida, shared presentation duties, providing the a how to overview of how to do a financial breakdown and budgeting advice. Erik was accompanied by arts-focused financial advisor Kristi Gomez, a key member of the IFWA team who serves as one of the company’s senior educators. Together they provided an extensive look at budgeting for both arts groups and individual artists speaking to the group on a very personal level, asking them to examine their own financial goals for the future. 

“We are very excited to serve the arts community. This is a segment we feel can really benefit from proper financial education. Our mission is to make sure this entire community receives proper guidance so they can maintain financial wellness,” said Erik.

Darren created an interactive exercise using a variety of fact-based slides addressing celebrity attitudes about success and financial stability. Participants were tasked with guessing which celebrity was being described. It served as a great ice breaker and perfect lead-in to Erik’s portion.

Beth Boone, Executive Director of the Miami Light Project, summed it up perfectly: “Our colleagues from the Institute for Financial Wellness for the Arts emphasized that budgeting and financial planning practices that work for individuals apply equally to practices for organizations as well.  It was refreshing to have a nuts and bolts discussion best practices and financial strategies.  I left the workshop energized to build the proverbial six-month nest egg to cover expenses – an excellent cultural readiness plan.”

IFWA will offer a variety of financial education curriculum customized for arts organizations, professionals and artists. In addition, the IFWA will provide coaching, goal setting and planning for individuals and unique employee benefit and savings plans tailored to the needs of big and small organizations.

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