Go ahead, ask Linda Brandt about her passions. Then sit back and hold on.
Brevard Cultural Alliance; Economic Development Council; Hidden Gems; Cultural Marketing Initiative; Backstage Arts; Merritt Island Redevelopment Agency.
She rattles them off fast. Many have ties to arts and culture; others to economics. They go hand in hand, as far as she’s concerned.
Linda is the Brandt in Brandt Ronat Co., an advertising agency on Merritt Island. She came to Brevard from Iowa with husband Bill Ronat.
“There was a little culture shock in the beginning,” she says. “But I’ve been here since 1987, so I’m done being shocked.”
The past 24 years, she and Bill have embraced the community and made it a personal — and professional — mission to make this a better place to live.
Take Hidden Gems, a Tourism Development Council initiative. She’s been working with people such as Brevard Zoo’s Keith Winsten, Dixie Crossroads’ Laurilee Thompson and Mike Knight of the Environmentally Endangered Lands program to promote lesser-known places of interest in the area.
“It’s for both folks here who don’t know what we’ve got, but also for visitors.”
So far, the committee has mapped seven activity loops including eco-tourism, space exhibits and historical attractions. A website, optimized for smart phones, is set to go live in November.
Then there’s the Cultural Marketing Initiative, entering its third year. A project of Brevard Cultural Alliance and the Tourism Development Council, it’s a survey of the influence arts and culture have on bringing people to the area and keeping them here longer.
“We have our first survey out on that, showing a high propensity to return among our arts and cultural visitors,” she says.
She doesn’t just study the arts. She’s a consumer too.
“We took our grandchildren, Matt and Sophie, to their first symphony. It was a real symphony, but they had the Brevard Children’s Chorus singing. (Local actor) Terry Girard was there. He was Beethoven. He came out like Santa Claus afterward and took pictures with the children.”
While we’re talking about children and the arts:
“Ooooooh, Backstage Arts is cool,” she says. Brandt’s daughter-in-law Christine Manning Brandt, teaches children the triple threat of performing — singing, dancing and acting — while Linda teaches them hands-on art.
Peripherally, she’s interested in encouraging Betsy Farmer with Promise in Brevard, a project that would create a community with housing and job opportunities for differently abled people.
“Everything I do has to do with one little phrase: hidden agendas. Finding partnerships, finding collaborations. ”
“Have you heard the term ‘non-zero-sum game’? Zero sum game is when you have to lose for me to win. Non-zero-sum game is where we work together to figure out how we both win.
“That’s what Brevard has to do. There’s a place for me to win, and there’s a place for you to win.”
Unless she’s playing Words With Friends on her iPhone. Then it’s zero-sum game to the end.
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