Arts and business news from around the country.


Using Business to Build the Leadership Pipeline in the Arts

Posted by Jessica Gaines

In the story “Packaging Your Impact: How Con Edison Engages Its Employees through the ABC/NY Diversity in the Arts Leadership Program” we learned a lot about mutually beneficial arts-based partnerships.


We learned that the program promotes diversity: Hosted by Arts & Business Council of New York (ABC/NY), the Diversity in the Arts Leadership (DIAL) program promotes diversity in the arts management field by placing undergraduate students of color in summer internship experiences at many of NYCs coveted arts and culture organizations.


We also learned that the program supports employee engagement: The DIAL program doubles as an arts-based platform to engage corporate employees at Con Edison, energy provider to NYC and Westchester County. Not only does Con Edison financially subsidize the intern stipends for the summer and provide in-kind event space but their employees have volunteered their personal time to fill two-thirds of the student’s business mentor roles.


Con Edison Project Specialist and DIAL mentor, Elizabeth Matias, shares, “Con Edison has built an incredible platform to engage its employees and I take pride in the interdisciplinary partnership and the opportunity to bridge my skills in arts and business”.


The program’s ability to help Con Edison employees put their company in the spotlight and also develop more experienced and better prepared student for arts leadership makes this program a successful archetype of mutual benefit partnerships for both sectors.


ABC/NY and Con Edison will go into their 17th year as partners on this program but the program boasts 25 years strong. In these 25 years, the program has placed more than 230 students from across the country into 110 arts nonprofit organizations in NYC to develop leadership in the business of the arts.


The program is now open for undergraduate student applications from anywhere in the country. Priority Application Deadline: January 27, 2017   |   Final Deadline: February 10, 2017


Photo: ABC/NY


Research and Theatre: A Life’s Devotion

Posted by Jessica Gaines
Research and Theatre: A Life’s Devotion

When Merrill Shugoll was selling candy at the Kennedy Center in her youth, would she have thought that she would become a research leader for arts organizations? As President of Shugoll Research in Bethesda, MD, Merrill and her team provide market research services to corporate and nonprofit clients including theatre companies, all over the country. In this interview from, hear from the company’s CEO Mark Shugoll and President Merrill Shugoll – a husband and wife duo with a mutual love for research, theatre, and arts.


Not only is Shugoll Research a recipient of BCA 10 award but Mark Shugoll is also a lively and proud member of Americans for the Arts BCA Executive Board.


In the interview, Mark and Merrill talk about the importance of business and community leaders joining Boards of arts and theatre organizations.  They also share how their business came to adopt the arts as its corporate and philanthropic cause, and came to identify the arts sector as having the same [research] needs as the private sector.


Merrill also shares how theatre can open up one’s mind to other groups of people and that just one show, South Pacific, helped expose her to prejudice.




BCA 10 Nominations Close in One Week

Posted by Jessica Gaines

Presented annually by Americans for the Arts' Business Committee for the Arts, the BCA 10 Awards recognize the 10 best businesses partnering with the arts in America.


Nominations close January 13, 2017. All honorees will be celebrated at the BCA 10 black-tie gala in New York City on October 11, 2017.


Learn more about the BCA 10 Awards at and view photos from this year’s eventIf you have any questions, please contact Jessica Gaines at



Solving Problems and Challenging the Status Quo with pARTnerships

Posted by Jessica Gaines

When entering a new year, many individuals and businesses alike desire a fresh start.  In personal lives, the changes may appear in a new diet or workout routine while at work it may be goal setting or performance evaluations.  Keeping with the idea of crafting new habits and letting go of outdated approaches, there’s a space for the arts to help advance goals by solving some of yesterday’s problems and challenging the “modus operindi”.


These three highlights below are a quick reminder of the possibilities of art and business partnerships that are successful and purposeful.


In the work environment, consider that working solely for productivity can become lackluster.

A company or industry that is technology-heavy or project-focused, may find that team performance needs a boost. Altering a method, adding Arts into STEM to become STEAM, can improve the process for businesses grounded in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math. One thing that Denis Lacasse, leader in web, software, and gaming fields, and his team instituted was bringing together employees of different disciplines and backgrounds. When these new teams, comprised of artists, game designers, and engineers, worked together their productivity and zeal increased due to their common connection of being passionate gamers focused on an end goal.


Consider that people want to live and work in a vibrant community.

In one Philadelphia neighborhood, there was a general understanding that the area was not safe at night, even with street lights. Although near a bustling bar and cheesesteak restaurant scene, the late-night hours of the neighborhood were either extremely desolate or filled with prostitution, underage drinking and dumping trash. Lighting designer Drew Billiau and mural artist David Guinn were able to pilot glowing street-art-styled murals on a few homes which began a neighborhood transformation all its own. Although there was reluctance from some neighbors in the beginning, the success of the initial glowing murals cultivated enough support to add more on the street for increased safety.


Consider that internal culture and external messaging often get old and stale. 

When seeking a way to renew a message (either internally to employees or externally to the public), remember to integrate the arts as a business asset.  By using Arts-Based Initiatives, “businesses can generate value from existing relationships with the arts, as well as an opportunity to establish new relationships, by exploiting the knowledge and skills within the sector for their own competitive advantage.” Investment firm, Scottish Windows, did just that by developing an Arts@Work program that injected arts into company culture and employees reported increased productivity and business benefits.  ABI's are suited for enhancing company messaging and company culture to overall posivitely affect business objectives and strategies. 


More information on bringing the arts into a business approach can be found in the pARTnership Movement essays


If you know of a business successfully pARTnering with the arts, please nominate them for the 2017 BCA: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts. Nomiations close January 13, 2017.


(Photo credit: Fast Company)


Top Five Arts and Biz Picks for 2016!

Posted by Jessica Gaines

At Americans for the Arts, the Private Sector Initiatives team works to strengthen partnerships between the arts and businesses communities. Hear from the team about its favorite arts and biz partnerships from 2016.


Jessica Gaines, Business Committee for the Arts Coordinator

Jessica’s pick: Midday Dance Parties


"A trend that we covered here on the pARTnership Movement was Midday Dance Breaks or Lunchtime Dance Parties. Not only is a midday movement session needed, it’s a great way for companies to recruit and retain their talent. In fact, my teammate Emma and I were able to attend a dance break sponsored by Perrier and Flavorpill where we received this fun light-up swag that we now use to celebrate team wins or successes."


Video courtesy of Jessica Gaines.


Emma Osore, Program Coordinator, Arts & Business Council of New York

Emma’s pick: Con Edison’s mentorship and participation in the DIAL summer program

Photo courtesy of ABC/NY.


"Not only does Con Edison financially subsidize the DIAL (Diversity in Arts Leadership) intern stipends and provide in-kind event space, their employees have volunteered their personal time to fill two-thirds of the business mentor roles. This business mentor commitment strengthens the capacity of the young leader but also strengthens Con Edison’s business goals and engages their employees in a meaningful way."


Emily Peck, Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives

Emily’s pick: Kohler’s Arts/Industry program


"We featured this program in our pARTnership Movement essay on fostering critical thinking through the arts. We also got to hear about the program and how it benefits the artists involved and the company when Ruth Kohler joined us at our Sun Valley policy convening. Artists and Kohler associates work side by side on the factory floor."



Jordan Shue, Private Sector Initiatives Program Manager

Jordan’s pick: Austin Energy's collaboration with Forklift Danceworks


PowerUP- 3 min excerpt from Forklift Danceworks on Vimeo.


"Allen Small, Austin Energy Distribution Director, and Allison Orr, Forklift Danceworks Artistic Director, both participated in the BCA 10 webinar and it was clear that it was a true partnership in every sense of the word. Every time I need some inspiration I watch the videos of PowerUP performance!"


From the BCA 10 program book: In 2013, Austin Energy supported the Forklift Danceworks production of PowerUP—a free performance featuring more than 60 linemen, electrical technicians, and Austin Energy employees. The collaborative work showcased the work of numerous Austin artists such as award-winning choreographers Allison Orr and Krissie Marty and Peter Bay, conductor for the Austin Symphony. The production was presented to 6,000 people and thousands more through a nationally broadcast documentary.


Amy Webb, Director, Arts & Business Council of New York

Amy’s pick: SPRZ NY partnership between Uniqlo and MoMA


"SPRZ NY (Surprise New York) is a project designed around the concept of 'a place where clothes and art meet.' It features a special collection of modern art-inspired fashion products intended to surprise, including a collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art. We've featured the partnership in the past (here) but it always a stand-out to me."


If you know of other dynamic businesses partnering with the arts, consider nominating it for the 2017 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts.





Why Does Your Business Value the Arts?

Posted by Jessica Gaines

In their acceptance speeches at the 2016 BCA 10 Awards, twelve industry leaders spoke about what being honored at the 2016 BCA 10 means to them and why they encourage and seek out opportunities to bring the arts into their worlds.

See the full event recap and view the BCA 10 program book to learn more about this year’s best businesses partnering with the arts. Know a company that partners with the arts? Nominations for the 2017 BCA 10 Awards are open through January 13, 2017.


1. Let’s Start Easy—With an Arts Business

[Describing a Mayor’s address to a group of teachers and students] And he told these kids, I think he managed to look every single one of them in the eye, he said, “You do what you wanna do, and you apply it the way you want to apply it, and take risks. Do art, do drama, do music, do what you’re doing here.” And it’s moments like that, seeing these kids and the teachers, that make me really appreciate the luck I have to be involved in a business that gets to provide, in a large measure, that creativity.

–Robert Buchsbaum, CEO at Blick Art Materials

Watch the full speech here.

Photo courtesy Blick Art Materials.

2. A Health Care Leader

When a chairman hires a Chief Mindfulness Officer and he allows his employees to meditate and to be mindful, he is art. When an IT executive plays a mean jazz saxophone, he too is art. When a community relations director forms a Latin band and sings in the nightclubs of NYC, he is art. And when a multicultural marketer shares marketing tips to a philanthropist—a corporate philanthropist at Aetna sharing marketing tips through The Grateful Dead—they too, are art. When a company has 16 different colors in its logo, that company is art. And we believe that everyone in this room is art. And when art and the folks in this room come together, we spark innovation; we inspire youth. We celebrate and heal communities. We stimulate economies. We sustain this great nation.

–Floyd Green, Vice President, Community Relations and Urban Marketing at Aetna, Inc.

Watch the full speech here.

Photo: Rana Faure


3. From the Utility Company

The focal point for Austin Energy is transformational power, which makes sense. As an electric utility, we deal with transformers and power each and every day, but there’s also a transformational power in art to bring people together: to create bridges of knowledge and understanding, to explore new ideas, to drive change.

–Allen Small, Distribution Director at Austin Energy




Photo courtesy Austin Energy


4. From the Water Meter Folks

At Badger Meter, my best engineers are all musicians. There’s some connection—I don’t know it because I’m a philistine—but there’s some connection between art, between music and engineering. I don’t understand it, but they know it and they’re all musicians. My best salespeople were on a stage at one time in their lives. My best marketing people were involved in the visual arts. And it’s those skills that you can’t just teach in a classroom. Somehow those were developed through their education.

–Richard Meeusen, Chairman, President, and CEO at Badger Meter

Watch the full speech here.

Photo: Rana Faure

5. From the Insurance People

In four months, I’ve met with every one of the 320 employees and the number one thing that they talk about is the arts, giving back, and community. … I think it’s the ability for all of us in our lives to be able to give back. To be able to do the things that are special and unique in our lives.

–Marc Schmittlein, President and CEO at CopperPoint Insurance Companies

Photo courtesy CopperPoint Insurance Companies


6. The Automotive Marketing Expert

I feel like we are receiving an Oscar for this [award] and it is really a true honor. These are the artists that have worked really hard to make all of these projects happen in Burlington, Vermont, and so more than anything I want to say ‘cheers’ to them and thank you to Americans for the Arts and BCA 10 for recognizing the rapport of business, art, and community coming together. So we have Scott, Mary, Michael, Kate. and Abby. These are the artists. Short and sweet.

–Jill Badolato, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at

Photo: Rana Faure


7. From the Beer Brewers

I really have a great job because our slogan at Dogfish Head is “off-centered ales for off-center people.” We have about 300 co-workers, the majority of them in Delaware, and a small salesforce around the country. We have all kinds of folks that are artists themselves. We have a magician’s assistant, a death metal guitarist, jazz musicians, graphic artists, illustrators, all kinds of folks. And our philosophy is that it’s really necessary to give back to the community and that’s what Beer and Benevolence is all about. Be it the environment, be it the community in general—but the arts especially.

–Mark Carter, Beer & Benevolence Coordinator at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Photo courtesy Dogflish Head Craft Brewery


8. Lawyers, Too!

We basically said, “We work with the most creative, innovative, crazy people around the world, you know, creatives always are. And why don’t we do that in Oklahoma City as well, and bring everybody into our office, make that community, that place-making kind of place.” And what we have seen really is that the engagement of our employees, of our staff, of our directors, in the arts has increased 200-300%. But one of the most amazing things for us is the karma—whatever you want to call it—the karma, good will, love that we’ve seen through this community, of this web of people that we put together.

–Douglas Sorocco, Director at Dunlap Codding

Photo courtesy Dunlap Codding


9. The One Known for Making Almost Everything

I’ll never forget my first day when I made it to manager and got an office; you got to tour the corporate art grouping and actually go in and pick out your own art. And so what did you feel? You felt that sense of passion and to be able to go in and say I resonate with that picture, that’s gonna bring out the best of me. And what a privilege to be able to work with a company like that.

–Susan Podlogar, Global Vice President Human Resources at Johnson & Johnson

Photo courtesy Johnson & Johnson


10. A Change Management Consulting Firm

Service, volunteerism, and sponsorship are important to our management team, our consultants, and our identity as a company. Supporting the arts had proven to have both personal and professional benefits for our employees and provided us an interesting and refreshing connection within our community.

–Kat McDonald, Community Engagement Manager at M Powered Strategies

Photo: Rana Faure


11. Even a Wealth Management Business

I would also like to extend a special thank you to the Americans for the Arts organization. Like us, you recognize that the arts are a transformative vehicle in our society and that cultivating the arts is not only important, but necessary to a world that seems to be moving away from creativity.

–Dave Blowers, Executive Vice President at Northern Trust

Photo courtesy Northern Trust


12. Don’t Forget About P&G!

Procter & Gamble has a long history of supporting the arts and we are blessed to live in a community where the arts have provided such amazing experiences for our employees, for our families, for new talents to come into our region and really be transformed by the arts.

–Phil Duncan, Global Design Officer at Procter & Gamble

Photo courtesy Procter & Gamble




"A People without Murals is a Demuralized People": Enlivening an Arts and Entertainment District with Public Art

Posted by Jessica Gaines


Arts Brookfield recently revealed their second installment of the “Paint the Town” initiative to promote public art murals in downtown Bethesda, MD.  With the help of their partner Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, artist Juan Pineda was selected to paint his bold and patterned style along the plaza and bus cove. Judges selected Juan from a collection of local artists who applied for the opportunity to complete the mural within weeks.  


This initiative supports both Juan’s and Brookfield’s profound commitment to enhancing the quality of life through art.  Juan has been painting murals in the Washington, D.C. area for over 20 years, has received a Proclamation Award for his work, and has received recognition for restoring a mural entitled, “A People without Murals is a Demuralized People.” Arts Brookfield, the cultural arm of Brookfield Properties, invigorates spaces through the free presentation of cultural experiences in their buildings around the world.  Brookfield, known for their signature programs, arts-inclusive office environment, and untraditional arts venues, was named one of the ten Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts with a BCA 10 award in 2014.

(Nominations for the 2017 BCA 10 Awards are open until January 13.)


It’s these steady partnerships that bring fruitful artistic, cultural, and economic growth to their communities for a lasting impact.


Photo: Courtesy Patricia Walsh, Public Art Program Manager, Americans for the Arts


Nissan’s Larger than Life 3D Project

Posted by Melyssa Muro

Ranging from the simple, still image of the Red Cross logo to Pixar’s white lamp hopping across the screen, creative imagery is utilized to build brands and establish business identities everywhere. In a world where prolific visuals are the norm, Nissan Europe recently took the idea to the next level by commissioning a group of artists to create a real-sized 3D replica of their Qashqai Black Edition—bringing an entirely new meaning to their tagline, “Innovation that excites.”



Under the guidance of Grace Du Prez, a team of 11 artists and designers utilized the nifty 3Doodler pen to bring this massive creation to life. Though no stranger to the possibilities of 3Doodler, Du Prez was astounded by the project, stating, “This is by far and away the most ambitious commission to date.” The project simply cannot be overstated, as the completed 3D penned Qashqai required 800 man hours spread over 17 days, utilizing over 8.5 miles of PLA and ABS plastic strands—not to mention the months of planning beforehand.


Du Prez proudly views the replica as a demonstration of how advanced 3D printing has become, as well as a vehicle to highlight the artistry of Nissan’s car design, engineering, and brand. “[W]e always encourage initiatives where design can be expressed through new and innovative technologies,” Vice President of Nissan Design Europe, Koji Nagano, commented.


With only 3,360 units available at the outset, the Qashqai’s high-scale 3D commission successfully promotes its identity as an exclusive, luxury good. After all, no other car in the world can boast having “pushed the boundaries of 3D pen technology,” as stated by Nagano. In addition to furthering their aura of refinement, the artistic team has showcased the value of 3D printing’s value as an art form and business tool; the 3D printing industry is projected to be valued at $17 billion by the year 2020.

As such, Du Prez is more than rightful in her exclamation, “I feel like now that we have done this, anything is possible!”


Photo courtesy of Lewis Durkin (Dynamo PR)




Art, Luxury, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Posted by Melyssa Muro

If fine art is a luxury good, how much value is added when imagery crafted by masters is featured on an ordinary object? According to Bomber Ski, if you do so with a finely tuned commodity itself, the answer is: exponential. With their All Mountain Artist Series skis featuring the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Bomber has elevated their already quality products to a new degree of opulence.


As each pair is handcrafted from Swiss wood in Italy and fitted with quality steel and laminate, Principal Robert Siegel asserts the production of the, “highest-performing skis being made today.” Yet, he sensed that the skis needed an extra pop to meet the desired quality: “I wanted them to be more… and I knew that with the right collaboration I could turn them into high art as well,” he commented. The goal of refinement in mind, the Artist Series was born—and has since received enthusiastic reviews, including glowing features in numerous publications such as Elle Magazine, the New York Observer, and Robb Report’s Collection.


This isn’t the first time that art has been brought to the slopes; in 2005, the Aspen Skiing Company partnered with the Aspen Art Museum in order to promote the town, and received the 2013 BCA 10 award for their continued efforts. Ranging from sculptures amid the snow to a cappella singing, to two 8-foot dice rolling down the hill itself, the mountainside’s artistic features give the experience a one-of-a-kind appeal. As art tends to lead to adventure, every year is a new twist on après-ski, keeping the skiing community on its toes (or its artfully crafted Bomber skis) and ensuring economic success.


In this way, the arts have helped Bomber, Aspen Ski Company, and the sport of skiing not only elevate their product but also reach new audiences with a message loud and clear: luxury and happiness await on the snowy mountainside.


Photo (left to right): Angel Wing Haring skis, Haring Tribal Warrior skis, and Basquiat Fisher King skis. Courtesy of Bomber.

Spotlight on Phoenix, AZ (Part 2): Thrive with the Arts and Create a Greater City – The Launch of ArtWORKS PHX

Posted by Jessica Gaines

A new initiative launched this month in Phoenix, AZ to showcase and inspire business engagement with the arts: ArtWORKS PHX. ArtWORKS PHX is Phoenix’s fresh, digital arts and business campaign that encourages local businesses to tell their story of arts partnership and connects businesses to arts resources.


Modeled after the pARTnership Movement with the interest of attracting employees, inspiring creative, and fostering collaboration, this site, organized by Phoenix Community Alliance, joins Americans for the Arts' national drive to promote arts in the workplace.


Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and arts boutique hotel Found:RE are just a few local businesses that have joined on-board showing arts integration is core to their business models. The site already features several case studies of many unique and wise businesses.


When discussing timing and inspiration, Phoenix Community Alliance Executive Director Devney Preuss said, “The timing for launching ArtWORKS PHX couldn’t be more perfect.  After months of election campaign coverage, people are ready for something different. They need inspiration."


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Spotlight on Phoenix, AZ (Part 1): Corporate Volunteerism Award goes to 2016 BCA 10 Winner CopperPoint Insurance Companies
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CopperPoint Insurance Companies are known throughout Arizona for far more than providing workers compensation insurance. The company has also built name recognition and an amiable reputation in areas outside of their industry...
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An Environment of Convergence
Nov 22, 2016 0 Comments
Conversations surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion are currently affecting almost every industry.  From tech to home sharing, leaders are approaching new ways to engage employees, thwart exclusion, and consider people...
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Blick Art Materials CEO Discusses the Impact of the Arts at the BCA 10 Gala
Nov 21, 2016 0 Comments
On October 5, 2016, Robert Buchsbaum, CEO of Blick Art Materials, the nation’s premier art supply source, accepted Americans for the Arts' 2016 BCA Leadership Award at the BCA 10 gala at the Central Park Boathouse in NYC.  ...
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Aetna Inc.’s Glowing Remarks at the 2016 BCA Gala: A Healthy Outlook on the Arts from a Health Care Leader
Nov 21, 2016 0 Comments
On October 5, 2016, Aetna Inc., leading health care company, received the 2016 BCA Hall of Fame award.  Aetna’s Vice President of Community Relations and Urban Marketing, Floyd Green, accepted the award on the company’s behalf...
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