Arts and business news from around the country.


2008 BCA 10 Winner, First Tennessee Bank, Supports Community Unity with Fun Fest

Posted by Mariama Holman


First Tennessee Bank is a staunch believer that art plays a vital role in a healthy community, and helps express the diversity within its shared humanity.

For this reason, First Tennessee Bank continues to give back to its state by financially supporting community togetherness as a sponsor of the Fun Fest in Kingsport, Tennessee.


Established fall of 1980, Fun Fest was started with the aim of healing the community from pressing situations that divided it, “ranging from political issues to extreme and unhealthy rivalries among local high schools,” according to event organizers.


Founders stated that the sole objective of Fun Fest was "to promote unity, harmony, fellowship and cooperation among people in the greater Kingsport area” – essentially fostering a belief that the Kingsport community was a good place to live and work while appealing to interests in culture, athletics, arts and entertainment.


Fun Fest was designed to build a more positive attitude about the local community and a more friendly, neighborly relationship amongst residents, and it appears to have been successful in doing so.


Over the years, the event has grown to attract over 180,000 attendees annually and has activities ranging from art fairs to boat races, parades and car shows that appeal to all age groups and people of varying interest. Nothing promotes community togetherness like live performance - Fun Fest concerts have featured performers such as Billy Ray Cyrus, The Four Tops, The Pointer Sisters, KC & The Sunshine Band, and Lynyrd Skynrd. 


In addition to live performance, the event features the Kingsport Art Guild’s Fun Fest Art Show, a community art show inviting both children and adults to hone and share their creative talents.


The spirit of building togetherness continues through the Fun Fest Art Show, as the 80 participants in the 2017 show reveal the diverse array of talent and skill collectively housed and supported within the community. 


“The diversity in these entries was most impressive. I can see artists exploring different paths. The skills and wit evident in a great many of the works made it difficult to narrow down the award winners,” according to Tim Tate, a retired teaching artist from the Sullivan County School System who served as judge.


Fun Fest continues into the present with the help of its local supporters and constituents, such as First Tennessee Bank.


For over 100 years, First Tennessee has been a strong supporter of the arts. It believes the arts elevate the human spirit and strengthen the fabric of the community.

When the Memphis-based bank expanded its operations statewide nearly 40 years ago, it started the First Tennessee Heritage Collection, an art collection about Tennessee by Tennesseans. The collection celebrates and acknowledges the heritage and history of the region.


First Tennessee, a 2008 BCA 10 awardee, is proud of its commitment to share the arts with employees, customers, and the communities it serves.


Photo: Anne Bucher, participant in the 2017 Fun Fest Art Show, receives a Best in Show award for her painting ‘Polly.’ Image sourced from Times News.


2009 BCA10 Winner, Dollar Bank, Holds Long Legacy of Supporting the Arts in Pittsburgh

Posted by Mariama Holman
2009 BCA10 Winner, Dollar Bank, Holds Long Legacy of Supporting the Arts in Pittsburgh

“From our founding in the mid-1800s right up to today, we at Dollar Bank believe that support for the arts means more than just making contributions to arts organizations. Over the years, we have tried to create opportunities for our citizens to enjoy the arts, from historic stone sculptures, to magnificent murals, to free concerts to emotional and inspired films about people and places important to all of us,” says Robert P. Oeler, President & CEO, Dollar Bank


The Dollar Bank is a long standing supporter of the arts in its community.

It has included the arts in its business since its founding in the 1870s, when it commissioned Max Kohler to create the signature lions guarding the front door of the Fourth Avenue branch.


Two stone lions were carved in place at the main entrance of the Fourth Avenue Building and symbolize guardianship of the people’s money. Each lion was sculpted from a single block of quarry-bedded brownstone and stayed on the bank’s steps until removed for restoration in 2009.


The Dollar Bank became famous for offering savings accounts that could be opened with as little as one dollar, and from these humble beginnings, it developed a reputation as an institution known for its personal touch and deep ties within the community.


"The lions are a symbol for Dollar Bank's commitment to the communities we serve,” said Dollar Bank’s President & CEO Robert P. Oeler. “They depict strength and a longstanding heritage of service and reliability.” 

In 2013 Dollar Bank completed a major project to restore and replicate the two brownstone lions at the historic Fourth Avenue building in downtown Pittsburgh.


The lions are more than 130 years old and are two of the most celebrated sculptures in the city; however, due to their age and the ongoing harsh climate to which they are exposed, they had undergone considerable degradation. After consulting a number of experts, the bank decided to move the originals to a stable indoor environment and replace them with an identical pair.


Meanwhile, Master Carver Nicholas Fairplay was commissioned to carve replicas of the lions for outside of the building.


The lions continue to inspire the bank’s partnerships with the arts.


In tune with its long standing support of the community it serves, for over a decade the Dollar Bank has been the main stage sponsor of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, which attracts artists from across the country for a free 10 day music and art event which has been held in Pittsburgh’s downtown annually for more than 50 years. The event attracts over 500,000 visitors and 1,000 artists.


Dollar Bank also led a consortium of banks to provide more than $7 million in financing to build the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in recognition of the award-winning Pittsburgh born playwright, August Wilson.


Photo: Photograph of the re-created stone lion created by Master Carver Nicholas Fairplay, which is located on the right side of the Dollar Bank in Pittsburgh’s Financial District. From


2007 BCA10 Awardee, Deutsche Bank, Opens Pathways to Students Interested in Art Careers

Posted by Mariama Holman
2007 BCA10 Awardee, Deutsche Bank, Opens Pathways to Students Interested in Art Careers

Deutsche Bank, a 2007 Business Committee for the Arts awardee, renewed its support of New York’s famed Frieze Art Fair in 2017. With this commitment, Deutsche Bank supports Frieze New York’s non-profit arm, Frieze Education, a year-round program that prepares young New Yorkers from underserved communities across the five boroughs for future careers in the arts.


Frieze Education expands access to arts spaces by bringing in from students across the city for regular arts activities, such as workshops and tours of artist studios, galleries, museums and the fair. The educational programming includes discussions with professionals from different areas of contemporary art. Institutions visited in 2017 include locations such as The Met Breuer and the New Museum.


The crown jewel of the program is Frieze Teens, which is comprised of a diverse array of 18 teacher-nominated students aged 16-18 hailing from diverse backgrounds.


Frieze Teens New York 2016 from Frieze Art Fair on Vimeo.


According to former Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Bank Americas, Seth H. Waught,  “We believe the arts enhance our ability to respond to an increasingly complex and fast moving world with new perspectives, ideas, and insights. Partnerships between business and the arts embrace the vitality of the world around us and serve the human spirit.”


Over the past 5 years, due to support from Deutsche Bank, the Frieze Teens program has held workshops with popular contemporary artists like Urs Fischer and Julie Mehretu, who have been featured in major art events, such as the Whitney Biennial, the Armory Show and Art Basel.  


Deutsche Bank has had a tradition of supporting the arts for more than a quarter of a century.  The Bank believes that respect for the artist’s unique role in society as an important catalyst for change is integral to Deutsche Bank’s commitment to help create better communities and enlightened corporate citizens. 


Through Deutsche Bank’s arts and education initiative, it has provided youth with a supportive environment and resources to pursue arts careers.  Many of these arts programs developed skills in young people that are highly transferable to success in academic, professional and real life situations. 


In collaboration with Partnership for Afterschool Education, Deutsche Bank co-created and designed an arts and career resource guide targeted to disadvantaged youth to help prepare them to enter the arts field.  Deutsche Bank also provided grants to cultural organizations that work with youth in New York City public schools and local non-profits such as the Carnegie Hall Link Up, the School Partnership program at the New York Philharmonic and the Bronx Museum’s Teen Council.


Deutsche Bank employees actively contribute to developing the youth through annual volunteer programs.  Deutsche Bank provides volunteers to community arts organizations such as Free Arts, which hosts Free Arts Day, a special volunteer event that pairs volunteers with elementary aged-youth. Bank employees and other volunteers offered a day of mini-mentoring and art-making, focused inspiring students to pursue their dreams.


Photo: Frieze Art Fair

Video: Frieze Teens New York Program. Frieze Art Fair website, 


2010 BCA10 Awardee, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Supports Southern Lights Public Art Project

Posted by Mariama Holman
2010 BCA10 Awardee, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Supports Southern Lights Public Art Project

BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina, a 2010 Business Committee for the Arts awardee, is supporting Southern Lights, a signature, long-term public art project set to open August 19th, starting just a few days before the total solar eclipse.

The installation’s design will use soft blue and green lasers to connect the cities of Columbia, West Columbia, Cayce and Richland County - celebrating the work of Charles Townes, a native South Carolinian whose research led to the development of laser technology. 


The art work itself will take place in “a beautiful dark natural environment in the middle of three bustling cities,” says project artist and USC Beaufort Art Department chair, Chris Robinson, who has worked with light and lasers since the 1970s. The beams would pass both over and under viewers to make the work more personal.

The installation could create a new sense of place for the region – designating cities as being “just across the river and through the lasers.” 


“The beam is very small and coherent, doesn’t spread out like ambient light, and tends more toward quiet and contemplative,” Robinson said. “It should help draw attention to aspects of the night environment that people haven’t noticed or focused on before.”


The art installation will span the Conagree River between Blossom and Gervais street bridges as a part of Columbia’s Total Eclipse Weekend celebrations. Columbia, S.C. is designated as one of the best locations on the East Coast to observe the total solar eclipse, which has not been witnessed in the continental United States since 1979.


The work is set to be on display every evening for three hours and will remain in place for the next decade, thanks to the support of BCA10 2010 awardee BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BCBSSC) and other project sponsors.


As one of the state’s leading supporters of non-profit organizations, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina has made a long-term commitment to supporting the arts in South Carolina. The 2010 BCA10 awardee recognizes that the arts help create thriving and dynamic communities that in turn contribute to South Carolina’s economic development. The company acknowledges that a culturally rich community contributes to economic development through tourism, can be a major factor in attracting new industry to the area, and helps attract and retain young professionals in the state.


BCBSSC demonstrates its strong commitment to the arts not only through monetary donations but also through in-kind gifts and employee involvement programs. Employees at all levels are engaged in supporting the South Carolina arts community, from a workplace campaign to support the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties to board service at numerous area arts organizations. Since 2004, BlueCross Blue Shield has donated over $4.7 million to South Carolina arts organizations.


The Southern Lights project is organized by business and cultural districts, community-action hubs and arts organizations such as What’s Next Midlands, Conagree Vista Guild, S.C. State Museum and One Columbia for Arts & History.


Photo: Mock-up of “Southern Lights,” a laser art installation designed by artist and USC Beaufort Art Department chair, Chris Robinson


Arts and Business Spotlight: Portland General Electric BCA10 2010 Awardee

Posted by Mariama Holman
Arts and Business Spotlight: Portland General Electric BCA10 2010 Awardee

Portland General Electric (PGE), Oregon’s largest electric utility, believes the arts have the power to educate, heal, and create a vibrant economy. When the PGE Foundation was permanently endowed in 1997, one of the three focus areas selected for grantmaking was arts and culture. The first arts grant the Foundation awarded, a $1.5 million grant to the Portland Art Museum, remains the largest single grant ever awarded by PGE. Since 1999, PGE and the PGE Foundation have contributed nearly $5 million to arts and culture.


PGE has demonstrated a dedication to incorporating the arts into its corporate culture, while also encouraging other area businesses to follow suit. PGE underwrote the creation of “Creative Differences,” a workplace diversity program the company co-developed with a local arts nonprofit.  What began as a program to teach PGE employees about cultural diversity was then marketed by the company to other area businesses, providing earned income to the nonprofit.


Other ways PGE has integrated the arts into its business strategy:  creating school plays with an arts nonprofit that teach children about electrical safety, energy efficiency and renewable energy.  These plays are performed free of charge to 20,000 students each year.  “Arts Contemplates Industry” brings local artists into historic PGE hydroelectric plants to make art which is then exhibited at PGE’s headquarters.  PGE underwrote the development of nonprofit board training for its employees by Business for Culture and the Arts (Portland).  Other businesses now use the program which is a source of revenue for BCA.


PGE is known as an early adopter and corporate leader on arts initiatives in Oregon.  The company helped the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) develop the Work for Art workplace giving campaign in 2004.  Every year since, Work for Art has grown at PGE, with the most recent campaign yielding a 38% increase over the year before. 


Through board leadership, testimony at public hearings and op-ed pieces in the local media, PGE advocates for the on-going sustainability of Oregon’s arts community.  The company was one of the first private funders of the Creative Advocacy Network that is developing a public funding mechanism for regional arts organizations.  The PGE Foundation also was the first private funder to support The Right Brain Initiative, a program of Young Audiences and RACC that is returning integrated arts education to the region’s public schools.


PGE spreads its funding from the largest performing arts companies to small arts education groups.  One year BCA recognized PGE for giving to 77 arts organizations – more than any other company in the region.  PGE’s arts funding has brought playwriting to at-risk youth; writing workshops to the homeless, mentally ill and elderly; visual arts and music to sick children in hospitals and African drumming to developmentally disabled children.


Photo: Photo of children painting giant butterflies at the Portland Children’s Museum, which is sponsored by Portland General Electric


Top 10 States for Arts and Business Arts Partnerships

Posted by Mariama Holman

Americans for the Arts has been honoring businesses that uniquely partner with arts organizations within their communities over the last decade through the annual BCA10 awards, receiving nominees of both large, small and mid-sized companies across a dozens of industries and over 47 states.


We are taking a moment to call attention to the top 10 states that have celebrated business and arts partnerships by number of BCA10 nominees from 2005 to 2017, with pro-arts quotes from iconic awardees from the respective cities.  


1.     New York


Time Warner Inc., New York,

At the announcement of Time Warner’s recognition in the BCA Hall of Fame Award for the 2007 BCA10 gala, Richard Parsons, then CEO and Chairman stated that, “Creativity is as important to the communities we serve as it is to the businesses we run. That’s why we’re committed to supporting the arts. By giving young people a chance to develop their talents and interests through media and arts programs, enabling more people to experience world-class theater, and nurturing diverse new artists and new works, we strive to help keep the arts rich and accessible.”



2.     California

Wells Fargo, San Francisco, CA

Richard M. Kovacevich, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wells Fargo & Company went on record during their 2005 BCA10 awardee announcement saying that “the arts make communities great places to live, work and play. Supporting the arts is simply the right thing to do.”



3.     Texas

American Airlines, Dallas, TX

Bella Goren, American’s Vice President of Interactive Marketing and Reservations at Americans for the Arts as well as a member of the board of North Texas Business for Culture and the Arts, accepted the 2005 BCA10 award in New York on the company’s behalf. “American and our people have a long-standing record of supporting the arts and enhancing what the arts bring to our communities,” said Goren afterward. “Hundreds of American and American Eagle employees volunteer in many positions and capacities in local and national arts organizations, and this commitment has been ongoing.  We’re proud of them, and grateful for their contributions.”



4.     Florida

Bacardi North America, Coral Gables, FL


According to Robert Furniss-Roe, the former Regional President of Bacardi North America, “Supporting the arts within the cities and towns where we live and work is our way of giving back at Bacardi, and this sense of corporate responsibility has been at our foundation since the Bacardi company was created more than 150 years ago. Arts programming enriches the lives of our employees and their families, our neighbors, and our business partners. The realm of the arts cross borders and languages to bring all people together in the name of beauty, knowledge and community.”



5.     Pennsylvania

PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA


“The arts can bring a community to life and influence its economic development. That is why PNC has long supported creative programs and initiatives that make the arts more accessible to our employees and everyone we serve,” said James E. Rohr, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.



6.     Missouri

Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO

“Hallmark’s mission is to inspire meaningful connections, which enhance relationships and enrich lives. We feel the arts are central to this purpose,” said Donald Hall, Jr., President and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc during the 2014 BCA10 awards at the Central Park Boathouse in New York.



7.     Wisconsin

Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee, WI

At the 2013 BCA10 announcement, John E. Schlifske, Chairman, President and CEO of Northwestern Mutual, stated that “Northwestern Mutual believes in the long-term benefits of sponsoring arts in the community. The arts inspire us to think differently and use new skills in all kinds of work. Our Foundation takes great pride in fostering and supporting an arts scene that not only provides entertainment, but also economic growth.”



8.   Tennessee

HCA Healthcare, Nashville, TN

"The arts nourish the spirit, challenge the mind, bring joy to the soul and enhance our communities. HCA's support of the arts is consistent with our mission to improve the quality of human life,” said Jack O. Bovender, Jr., Chairman and CEO of HCA in light of the company’s recognition for the 2006 BCA10 award.



9.   Illinois

Deere & Company, Moline, IL

"Support of the arts is integral to Deere's long-standing commitment to our communities,” said Robert W. Lane, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of  Deere & Company. “We are pleased to make major contributions to the arts that enhance the quality of life.”



10.  Ohio

Proctor & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

“Every day at P&G we strive to improve people’s lives with our brands and products, as well as improve the communities where we live and work. Supporting the arts produces ripple effects of benefits that help communities thrive and make them great places to live,” said Proctor & Gamble CEO, David Taylor upon the 2016 BCA10 announcement.


BCA10 Awardee Adobe Systems on Non-conventional Ways the Arts Matter to Business

Posted by Mariama Holman

Creativity is pivotal to business, but not for the reasons you might first expect.


When walking through Adobe’s headquarters in San José California, the home of over Adobe 2,000 employees, one cannot help but notice its striking art and design. From renovated spaces to unique art installations, the headquarters are visually inspiring for the many different types of workers that inhabit the space.



Researchers have been touting the importance of aesthetically pleasing work environments for years, given they create a more welcoming place for collaboration, focus and mental clarity.


But workplace décor alone merely scratches the surface of what the arts offer businesses.  


State of Create: 2016, an Adobe initiated research report benchmarking how workers hailing from the U.K., France, Germany, Japan and the United States view creativity, raises some food for thought on how else the arts benefit businesses.  


First of all, the arts stimulate creativity, and according to Adobe’s research, creativity pays.


Did you know that the study’s self-ascribed creators report more house hold income than non-creators? On average, creators report making 13 percent more than non-creators.


There are intangible benefits to executing creativity within the workplace as well.


Workers that considered themselves to be creators not only view themselves as more creative, but were significantly more likely to report feeling happy, innovative, confident, energized and successful. The also felt they were making more of a difference in their work.


Yet the issue becomes, how do companies create a culture that stimulates the success of all of its employees by empowering them to be creative thinkers, or creators?


According to the State of Create: 2016, only 41 percent of people describe themselves as creative. Around the world only 31 percent of people believe they are living up to their full creative potential.


This means the majority of the workforce has yet to be fully engaged and activated at work – contributing their best and brightest ideas to improving teams, products, and workflows.


The source of the issue could be that workplaces ask for employees to be creative, but do not create mechanisms for enabling creativity to flourish.  Reason being, 77 percent of State of Create: 2016 respondents agreed that there is an increasing pressure to be productive, rather than creative at work.


There appears to be a workplace void in what employers want versus what they can organically cultivate within employees. This is a void that only the arts, when working alongside business partners, can fill.


The pARTnership site Success Stories page is filled with examples of how small, medium and large companies from a variety of industries have attempted to open the door to creative outcomes in their employees by partnering with arts organizations.  


Take for instance, the story of 2009 BCA10 Awardee, Adobe Systems.


Adobe exposes workers to the arts through offering skilled volunteer opportunities with local arts organizations. Adobe designers recently created book covers for teenage writers via a partnership with Open Books, helping to boost the students confidence and marketability.


In addition to external projects, Adobe feeds creativity with regular employee art contests. The business displays this work in corporate offices. The engagement level of their activities is worth noting – over 85 employees participated in the company’s photography exhibit in the San Francisco office.


Want to learn more about success stories in blending together arts and business? Visit the pARTnership Movement Success Story page.


Photo: Curated by Antlre Creative and created in partnership with Adobe audio and visual employees, this work of art is a visualization of an Adobe employee’s voice.


How Businesses Have Used the Arts to Engage Muslim Communities

Posted by Mariama Holman

Businesses have the power to stimulate social dialogue on cultural themes and topics in which their consumers and employees have ownership. They can utilize the arts to engage in conversation and build relationships with authenticity, sincerity and sensitivity.


The steps to doing so begin with strong insights on consumer behaviors and attitudes.

Observe the examples of the companies below to learn how successful businesses have engaged Muslim communities through the arts.


Wasl Properties, Dubai – Photography Competition

Wasl Properties, a leading Dubai property management and development company with a real estate portfolio of over 30,000 residential and commercial properties, utilized a key consumer insight to incite meaningful dialogue with its customers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, using the arts.


Ramadan is considered to be a time to reconnect with one’s faith, family and friends – creating a period for working less and spending more time building relationships.  Per Google data, during Ramadan practitioners are more active online than during other points of the year – performing more searches and activities on their mobile devices. Digital literacy has increased in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) as viewers have normalized the process of watching web series and videos.


Wasl Properties’ Ramadan Instagram Photography Competition utilized this consumer insight on content consumption and integrated it with a relevant occasion to engage its target audience.


Wasl Properties utilized the arts to open dialogue on the meaning of Ramadan.


Individuals over 13 years of age were given the opportunity to participate in the Ramadan Instagram Photography Competition, which was open to tenants and non-tenants a like. All were invited to share photographs capturing “what they love the most about Ramadan or an inspiring act of kindness” on Instagram with the hashtag #waslRamadan2017 and mentioning @waslgroup. Entrants competed to earn an Apple TV every week from May to June. Children were also given the opportunity to participate with a painting competition that ran during the same time.




Coca-Cola, BCA 10 Awardee, Middle East and Northern Africa Division – Web Series


Another brand that has succeeded in capturing the hearts and minds of their consumers through the arts and a savvy use of consumer insights is the BCA10 award winner, Coca-Cola.


Coca-Cola cited psychological research as the source of their campaign consumer insight - the most important variable of happiness is a good social relationships with others.

For years, Coca-Cola has been recognized as the food and beverage brand that portrays happiness – emphasizing happy people in its TV commercials and print ads. Coca-Cola brand managers asked themselves if the company could create sustainable happiness in the communities it inhabited through meaningful social dialogue.


In 2014 Coca-Cola sought to demonstrate its commitment to Muslim consumers during Ramadan by initiating a Ramadan campaign that was focused on opening up dialogue within families, friends and the overall community. The campaign had the objective of creating happiness through stimulating inclusion and an open mind.   


The campaign that resulted was called #OpenUp under the catch-phrase of “Open Up. It’s Ramadan.” It features real stories of Muslims who opened up dialogue with their loved ones and the results that followed. Highlighted individuals include Top Chef star, Bader Fayez and Kuwaiti fashion blogger, Ascia.


"The Open Up campaign inspires people to open up to different points of view and acknowledge that although differences will always exist, the bonds we share are stronger than any obstacle," according to Tolga Cebe, head of marketing at Coca-Cola Middle East.


Wasl properties and Coca-Cola showcase just a few of many examples of how businesses have engaged in social dialogue through the arts. Browse through our Success Stories page to learn more about how businesses can use the arts connect with their communities.


Cultural Districts Opens Doors to Economic Opportunity

Posted by Mariama Holman
Cultural Districts Opens Doors to Economic Opportunity

What exactly is a cultural district, and why does it matter to businesses and communities?


Cultural districts leverage a unique resource or talent available within the community (a sustainable competitive advantage) to serve as a focal point for branding a city’s unique cultural identity and historical significance. 


Better branding leads to stronger differentiation from the surrounding community, which assists and supports the marketing of local businesses and nonprofit cultural organizations.


When contentiously utilized, a community’s culture and history does not just gather cobwebs in a textbook, but impacts future cash flow for city coffers and local business owners.


Per the National Cultural Districts Exchange Toolkit, cultural districts have a significant economic impact on cities, especially growing small businesses. As demonstrated by the  2017 Business Contributions to the Arts Survey, this could be why small businesses contribute a larger percentage of their philanthropy budgets to the arts.

The impacts of cultural districts on the business community are well documented in The Arts as a Strategy for Revitalizing Our Cities.


Take for instance, the example of The Warehouse Arts District in Tucson, Arizona and the Pittsburgh Cultural District. Three years after the establishment of the Tucson Arts District, there was a 23 percent increase in new businesses. Furthermore, 54 percent of businesses in the district increased their sales volume.


The Pittsburgh Cultural District generated $115 million in commercial activity via $33 million in public investment and $63 million in private and philanthropic funds within the first decade of operation.


The Oakland Black Arts and Movement Business District is now in the running to be recognized as a cultural and historical site in the State of California, an opportunity that could repeat the economic successes of earlier cultural districts across America. The state council recently selected the area as one of 22 semifinalists to be considered for the “California Cultural District” designation.


Oakland’s cultural district contains more than 20 small businesses and cultural spaces that have been serving the community for decades, including the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, Joyce Gordon Gallery and Geoffrey’s Inner Circle Club, a community music venue operating since the 1970s known for hosting music legends such as Wynton Marsalis and Phyllis Hyman. The district also features the Oakland African-American Chamber of Commerce and the Oakland Cultural Center.


Economic and community development initiatives in the East Bay area are especially important as the San Francisco affordable housing crisis continues, leaving many residents in search of  a better quality of life in the suburbs. Oakland suffered a 25 percent decline in African-American residents in the past decade, losing approximately 33,000 residents per the U.S. Census.  


Marvin X, one of the Oakland Black Arts Movement Business District founders, says “the district can add a whole lot of equity and tourism to the city.”


As seen by prior cultural district examples, through fostering the arts and culture sector the “California Cultural District” designation could create a stronger economic future for Oakland’s residents. 


400 Businesses Acknowledge the Importance of the Arts

Posted by Mariama Holman
400 Businesses Acknowledge the Importance of the Arts

Since 2005, Americans for the Arts’ BCA 10 Awards has received nominations for over 400 businesses across the country that see the importance of cultivating the arts and culture sector for the betterment of their companies and the local community.


In the eyes of Badger Meter, a 2016 BCA 10: Best Business Partnering with the Arts in America honoree and leading global manufacturing and innovation company in the water utility metering market, innovation fostered through the arts was the key to their success.


This company gives credit to its achievements as an 100+ year old, multimillion dollar publicly-traded company to a culture of creativity and innovation.


Badger Meter sees the arts as crucial to employee recruitment and retention as well as cultivating talent locally and regionally. CEO Richard A. Meeusen’s speech at the October 5, 2016 BCA 10 gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City celebrated and acknowledged the arts as significant force in stimulating critical thinking and relevant work-place skills among staff.


This is why he advocates for STEAM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum that incorporates the arts):

“At Badger Meter, my best engineers are all musicians…My best sales people were on stage at one time. My best marketing people were involved in the visual arts. Those are skills you can’t just teach… somehow they were developed through their education.”


He also added that the arts are key to the future: “Twenty years from now I want my business to be successful, and I need the arts to continue to produce the highly creative individuals that we as a country have produced over the last 200 years. We need to make sure for the next 200 years, art programs are available to our youth.”

Badger Meter is certainly not alone in believing in the power of STEAM.


The chief information officer of Deloitte, one of the largest management consulting firms in America, recently argued in favor of STEAM in education. According to Larry Quinlan, "It's not enough to be technologically brilliant. We need senior people who understand business processes, too."


As the world becomes more technologically specialized, businesses seek hires that have excellent ‘people skills’ – individuals that know how to build consensus, manage relationships and read the room to manage teams through complex environments to creatively achieve organizational objectives. 


The arts and social sciences are critical in fostering these abilities. That is why schools like Yale, Mount Holyoke, and Washington and Lee are using more of an integrated approach in teaching students about business, helping them learn soft skills that demonstrate how business is not isolated from the social underworkings of a community, but a part of a greater context.


The business world is seeking more well-rounded thinkers, doers, movers and shakers to meet their needs. 


The market responses with pay demonstrates the value of being well-rounded in the workforce. According to Forbes, individuals with balanced strengths in both social and math skills actually command a salary premium, 10 percent more earnings than those who are strong in just one area or the other.


From the inception of Badger Meter over 100 years ago, all the way to the present day, the arts and creativity drive employee innovation, and innovation keeps businesses alive.


For more information on Badger Meter, the Milwaukee Wisconsin-based 2016 BCA 10: Best Business Partnering with the Arts in America honoree, please view its success story, “A Champion for Steam and Innovation,” on the pARTnership Movement Success Stories’ page.



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