Making a Difference: Zeitgeist Arts Café

By KBJR News 1

January 16, 2014 Updated Jan 16, 2014 at 10:22 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Every weekend at the Zeitgeist Arts Café in Duluth, those who drop in to enjoy brunch are actually taking a bite out of the need many Northland non–profits are facing on a weekly basis.

That's because a portion—about 5%—of all weekend brunch proceeds at the café make their way into the hands of regional organizations that range from food shelves, to the public school system.

Tony Cuneo is Executive Director of the Zeppa Family Foundation, which wholly owns the Zeitgeist, along with the Zinema 2 movie house, and the Teatro Zuccone box theater.

"It's just one example of how we try and... pay it forward," said Cuneo over lunch at the Zeitgeist Cafe.

He says each business has a role in serving the Northland community's needs, with particular emphasis paid toward the growing art scene—both novice and experienced.

But Cuneo says ideas, like brunch proceeds, help the non–profit extend their community outreach far beyond their doors.

In February, those proceeds will go to the Duluth Public Schools, "and help fund a program that encourages women, and young girls, to participate in math, and engineering, and science education," added Cuneo.

Cuneo says the profits often come to organizations in the form of unrestricted funds, which has allowed non–profits like the CHUM homeless shelter in Duluth to put the dollars where they feel they're needed most.

CHUM, who received two months worth of donations in 2013, put one month toward their capital campaign for providing low–income housing through the Steve O'Neil apartments.

"And then we had another month that actually went to general operations—paying salaries, benefits, keeping the place warm, [and] turning the lights on," said CHUM Development Director Mary Schmitz.

The Zeppa Foundation—through their varied venues—says they're going to continue cooking up more ways to intersect with the community.

In the meantime, Cuneo says they hope artists will continue to turn to the Zeitgeist, Zinema, and Zuccone as a creative outlet.

"If they want to make music, if they want to make theater, if they want to show their paintings or their sculpture," said Cuneo, "[they should] feel like they can come to us."

...making charity as easy as doing brunch, and making a difference in the Northland.

If you'd like to learn more about the Zeppa Family Foundation, or Zeitgeist Arts:

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Billy Wagness
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