Joel FriendJoel Friend is the Director of Corporate Giving and Sponsorships at Paramount Theatre in Aurora. Passionate about fostering relationships between the business and arts communities, his commitment to philanthropy supports the Paramount Theatre, RiverEdge Park, the Copley Theater, and the newly opening Stolp Island Theater. Joel’s background in performing arts management is rooted in his lifelong interest and varied experience within the Chicago theater realm. 


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [1:52] How Joel Friend’s love for performing arts led to a purposeful career in theater management 
  • [3:39] Joel talks about the unique experiences Paramount’s venues offer
  • [6:48] A sneak peek into Paramount’s upcoming lineup of shows
  • [9:52] What is the “Bold Series” theater experience?
  • [13:47] The concept behind the Stolp Island Theater and its engaging, immersive atmosphere 
  • [21:14] How the Paramount School of the Arts offers real-world performance experiences
  • [31:52] Joel’s approach to securing corporate sponsorships and partnering with businesses to support the arts

In this episode…

The arts and business communities can create symbiotic relationships that benefit both sectors. Giving back allows companies to harness authentic experiences that bolster their brand images. Can corporate sponsorships unlock the secret to greater community engagement?

As a champion for harmony between the arts and the business landscape, Joel Friend notes that philanthropy can create a thriving cultural sphere. Engaging with local artists through corporate sponsorships and giving offers businesses a platform to connect with their communities and share their brand stories. Through his philanthropic work with Paramount Theatre, Joel enriches the city of Aurora with arts and culture, inviting local businesses to participate and make an impact. 

In this episode of the Mission Matters Podcast, Paul Feith chats with Joel Friend, the Director of Corporate Giving and Sponsorships at Paramount Theatre, about forming partnerships that serve both business objectives and nonprofit goals. He provides insights into corporate giving, the comprehensive offerings of the Paramount enterprise, and his journey in performing arts management.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Quotable Moments:

  • “The business community can and should partner with the arts community to foster a more vibrant and dynamic environment for all.”
  • “Take your kids to the theater because it really unlocked this wonderful nonprofit arts world that I’ve been in for such a long time.”
  • “We’re always looking ahead; there’s no downtime, only new openings in different performance spaces.”
  • “For every single person that you see on stage, there’s probably three people behind the scenes.”
  • “We have more season ticket holders at Paramount Theater than any other theater in the United States.”

Action Steps:

  1. Explore arts organizations in your community that may offer multifaceted programs and consider how you can engage with them beyond just being an audience member.
    • Engaging with a range of programs broadens one’s perspective and appreciation for the arts, as highlighted by Joel’s discussion on Paramount’s diverse offerings.
  2. Encourage and participate in school trips to local theaters to ignite a lifelong interest in the arts among the youth.
    • It can be transformative, as Joel’s early exposure to performing arts shaped his career path, showing the impact such experiences can have on children.
  3. Consider how your business could collaborate with local arts organizations, both for community enrichment and corporate social responsibility.
    • Joel emphasizes the shared benefits and responsibility of businesses to support the arts, which could also serve as a unique branding opportunity.
  4. For aspiring industry professionals, explore educational programs offered by arts organizations, like the Paramount School of the Arts, to gain practical skills and experience.
    • Joel stresses the importance of real-world application in learning, which is critical for students to translate their education into a successful career.
  5. Understand the importance of customer service in all aspects of business, taking cues from how even the valet service adds to the overall experience at venues like Paramount.
    • It exemplifies the attention to detail in providing a memorable experience, stressing how every encounter shapes brand perception.

Sponsor for this episode…

Today’s episode is sponsored by Paul Gregory Media, an 18-year-old digital marketing agency in downtown Naperville, Illinois.

They are one of the few thousand Certified B Corporations worldwide, demonstrating PGM as a leader of a global movement to use business as a force for good, meeting high standards of accountability, transparency, and community involvement. They have been trusted by hundreds of organizations since 2006.

PGM is recognized as one of the top marketing agencies in the region, earning more awards than many of its competitors combined. They have the passion, commitment, and expertise to get it done.

To learn more about the services PGM offers or how they can support you with your marketing needs, visit www.paulgregorymedia.com or email them at [email protected].