Paying a life-changing experience forward

Paying a life-changing experience forward

“Supporting the arts is one of my passions,” says Nancy Hoagland (IAC/NMC 74), Campaign Cabinet Co-Chair of Create Amazing: The Campaign for Interlochen Co-Chair. And that shows in all the ways she continues to support Interlochen throughout her life.

Hoagland learned to value philanthropy in addition to the arts while growing up, and her time spent at Interlochen inspired her to pass the experience on to other generations as a donor.

“I was lucky to grow up in a family full of the arts,” she said. “I know that not everybody is that lucky and I want to make sure that others have that opportunity.”

In creating those opportunities, Hoagland has supported a number of programs at Interlochen in a variety of ways—most recently funding an expansion of the Hildegarde Lewis Dance Building.

“Before I did any theatre in my life I was a dancer,” she said. “But I did not continue with dance once I hit high school, other than in musical theatre. So there’s a piece of me that, way, way deep down inside, is a dancer first. And I saw it as an area at Interlochen where I could really make a difference.”

Hoagland’s ties to Interlochen, love of the arts and philanthropic values are all excellent reasons to inspire her support—but it really comes down to her belief in the role of arts in the world today, and Interlochen’s mission of enhancing the quality of life through the universal language of the arts.

She remembers that her interest in Interlochen was first sparked while visiting family as a child.

“I think my earliest memory of Interlochen is my grandmother listening to the radio when I was a little kid. We came up to Northern Michigan in the summertime, and I remember she would be listening to classical music … Karl Haas was one of her favorite programs.” (Haas hosted a program titled “Adventures in Good Music” and served as president of Interlochen Center for the Arts from 1967-71.)

Later, as a teenager, the self-professed “theatre geek”—remembering Interlochen from her childhood—applied to and spent a summer at camp studying theatre. Being surrounded by such creativity was wonderful, she said, but it also taught her something she’s never let go of, even as an adult.

“I can honestly say that summer changed my life,” she says. “My childhood was immersed in the arts—my mother was an incredible visual artist and I grew up surrounded by all of the arts. So Interlochen wasn’t unusual for me in that aspect. What was unusual was being around peers who wanted to excel, who wanted to challenge themselves, and who were all creative.

“I learned a very important lesson: I can usually do more than I think I can. And that you shouldn’t ever settle for ‘just good enough’—you can excel.

“It’s the overall atmosphere of high standards and excelling at what you do that makes Interlochen a special place,” she added. “There are a lot of students who go to Interlochen who may not go on to have a profession in the arts—but it’s not about that anyway. It’s about richly creative communities … if you’re going to have a healthy society, you’ve got to have healthy arts.”