Chamber Blog

Mary Tuuk of the Grand Rapids Symphony on Why Music Bridges the Gap Between Business and Creativity

Mary Tuuk of the Grand Rapids Symphony on Why Music Bridges the Gap Between Business and Creativity 3

Grand Rapids has a rich history with the arts alongside strong support from the philanthropic community in West Michigan. Venues such as Van Andel Arena bring in popular musical performances for the masses, while ArtPrize attracts thousands to the city to celebrate various art mediums. One staple of Grand Rapids’ arts culture is the Grand Rapids Symphony, which is headed into its 90th anniversary in 2019-2020.

Mary Tuuk of the Grand Rapids Symphony on Why Music Bridges the Gap Between Business and Creativity 2
Mary Tuuk

Mary Tuuk, President & CEO of the Symphony, understands why the arts are important to so many in West Michigan. “We’ve been blessed to enjoy a culture of support from area businesses and their founding families. We live in an area of economic vibrancy, and from a business standpoint, it only makes sense to foster the arts, because it’s a wonderful way to attract and retain top talent.”

Tuuk is new to her role at the Symphony, moving into the role in January of this year after over twenty years in the banking and retail industries. She had been serving on the board of the Symphony when she was approached to fill the role of President & CEO. “It really is my dream job,” said Tuuk. “It was a wonderful opportunity to combine my lifelong passion for music with my business background.” (Fun fact: Mary is a classically trained musician who can play the piano, organ and violin!)

Mary Tuuk of the Grand Rapids Symphony on Why Music Bridges the Gap Between Business and Creativity 1
Grand Rapids Symphony in action

The Symphony may be most recognized for its many performances at DeVos Performance Hall, but its work includes much more. The Music for Health Initiative is a partnership with the Symphony and local health systems where orchestra members go into health systems to provide music therapy for patients with health challenges and disabilities. Tuuk says this is one program she is “particularly proud of” at the Symphony. “It really shows the healing power music can have. It can soothe the soul in a way nothing else can.” The Symphony also is very dedicated to education, with programming supporting preschool all the way through high school.

Mary Tuuk of the Grand Rapids Symphony on Why Music Bridges the Gap Between Business and Creativity
Classical Mystery Tour with GRS Picnic Pops

What does Mary Tuuk most want Grand Rapidians to know about the Symphony? “We really do have something for everybody. All of our offerings are built to be an inclusive, exciting environment for everyone in the audience.” And we must agree, whether you’re a fan of Beethoven, The Beatles or Harry Potter, there is something for every taste at the Symphony.

Even in the divisive times we live in today, art continues to bring people together. “The symphony and other creative organizations in the city act as connectors between the vitality and growth of the region,” Tuuk says, “It’s a connector in terms of what we can do to positively impact individuals, and it’s also a connector in terms of the economic development that is happening every day here.”

If you’re part of a creative organization in Grand Rapids like the Symphony, consider checking out the Grand Rapids Creative Chamber! The Grand Rapids Creative Chamber initiative strives to bridge the divide between the creative and business communities in Grand Rapids. To aid in this mission, creatives will have the opportunity to receive scholarships to support a trial Chamber membership for the period of one year. Through this, creatives will receive the full benefits of a Chamber member, while also participating in the Creative Chamber initiative. For more information, please contact Laura Traxler at laurat@grandrapids.org.


If you’re looking to engage with the Symphony, there are many volunteer opportunities available! Visit https://www.grsymphony.org/volunteer to learn more.

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