Arts and business news from around the country.


The Arts Mean Business

Posted by Mariama Holman
The Arts Mean Business

It’s a tough world out there for nonprofit arts organizations, and only those with savvy business skills employed within a social value-maximizing framework survive. However, for some reason, arts organizations are not perceived as institutions with any inherent business capability. Below are 4 reasons why arts organizations actually embody many of the same business skills you would find in any corporate boardroom, given, they handle a similar set of issues. The arts, actually mean business.


Profit does matter

First, even though many arts organizations are nonprofit, that does not mean that ending the year in the black, or covering the operational budget, is not important. Nonprofit accounting financial statements are comprised of both contributed and earned income. Development and marketing teams work tirelessly to hit organizational revenue goals, alongside the board of directors and executive leadership. Just like a business, arts organizations have to find ways to minimize the costs of services offered, or the equivalent to cost of goods sold – in fact, sometimes even more creatively. By design, admissions ticket prices rarely offset the full cost of the service offered, given the nonprofit seeks to provide its benefits to the greatest number of people it can afford. While profit is definitely not the primary motivator for existence, healthy arts organizations find creative, resourceful ways to prevent continued deficits at the end of the year, like any business.


Stellar executive leadership

You can’t judge a book by its cover – arts leaders can make the best of organizational leaders. There is a misconception that nonprofit leaders do not possess solid business knowledge.  Many arts organizations actually have presidents, general managers, COOs and CEOs with impressive business backgrounds, with previous careers working for top consulting firms, or leadership roles in local companies or Fortune 500 businesses. Furthermore, it must be noted that by design, some nonprofit roles themselves are heavily-finance and business oriented, such as the role of production directors, who not only manage budgets for labor costs but forecast the prices of resources used to source or design theatrical sets. At the end of the day, leaders must have an entrepreneurial mindset to thrive in an environment with especially scarce resources. This quality drives arts leaders to excellence in organizational leadership.


Fighting stiff competition

In following along with the understanding that nonprofits do value profit, understand that they face competition – they compete with themselves to offer a unique social value relative to similar institutions in their communities over time, to justify their existence. Rather than measuring success in terms of assets alone, nonprofits have a social output that must be tracked and accounted for in an often hyper-complex environment. Like any business, they have tremendous external threats to reckon with, such as legislative concerns, demographic trends, community net migration, and local economic forecasts. Answers to questions such as, “How many patrons did we serve?” and “How did we improve their lives?” relative to last period despite environmental changes are critical. Organizations rely on this information to secure and even grow funding from foundations, government sources and private donors in communities with scarce resources – thus demonstrating their significance to contributed income sources by offering a competitive social value proposition.


Efficient and responsible management

By design, arts organizations usually have a slimmer percentage of organizational budgets allocated to operational expenses than for-profit businesses, and as a result must be lean, mean, life-impacting machines. Arts organizations often utilize the same functional capabilities found in businesses, such as strategy, marketing, finance, operations, accounting, IT and human resources but with less staff and resources. Like businesses, nonprofits are held accountable to boards of directors, state, federal and local governments and private donors. Their taxes are audited and often shared with prospective funders. Like a business, there is little room for mismanagement if an organization is to survive over the long-run.


In summary, arts organizations contain a wide-variety of business skills, organizational management best practices and resource-efficiency hacks. When combined with their social value orientation, they become a force to reckon with in tackling community issues. 


Study Demonstrates That Nonprofit Arts Are An Economic, Employment Powerhouse

Posted by Jessica Gaines


A new national study by Americans for the Arts finds that the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity in 2015—$63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related spending by their audiences. This activity supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in government revenue. 


Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5 (AEP5) is the largest study of its kind ever conducted and was released June 17, 2017 at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in San Francisco. AEP5 documents the economic contributions of the nonprofit arts industry nationally as well as in 341 study regions, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Data was gathered from 14,439 arts and cultural organizations and from 212,691 members of their audiences. Project economists customized input-output models for each study region to ensure reliable and actionable localized results.


“By every measure, the results of Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 prove that the arts are an industry—a generator of government revenue, a cornerstone of tourism, and an employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Leaders who care about community and economic vitality, growing tourism, attracting an innovative workforce, and community engagement can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts.”


Key AEP5 Findings

·        Nationally, the nonprofit arts industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity in 2015—$63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences.

·        This industry supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments—a yield well beyond their collective $5 billion in arts allocations.

·        Money spent by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations supported a larger share of the U.S. workforce—0.83 percent—than the legal or public safety sectors.

·        Based on the 212,691 audience surveys conducted, the typical arts attendee spent $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission.

·        The economic impact of the arts is more than the monies spent in communities. Cultural tourists spend money, as well. Thirty-four percent of attendees traveled from outside of the county in which the event took place. Their event-related spending was more than twice that of their local counterparts ($47.57 vs. $23.44).

·        A vibrant arts community not only keeps residents and their discretionary spending closer to home, it also attracts visitors who spend money and help local businesses thrive. Sixty-nine percent of nonlocal attendees indicated that the primary purpose of their visit was “specifically to attend this arts or cultural event.”

·        Among local attendees, 41 percent said they would have traveled to a different community to attend a similar cultural event, if the arts event they wanted to attend was not taking place. 


“With current threats against nonprofit organizations, such as limiting the federal charitable tax deduction, the $27.5 billion in revenue back to the government generated by arts industry expenditures shows that municipal, state and federal arts support is not a one-way street. Rather, there is a benefit of substantial revenue back to government that accompanies the public good that these organizations and their audiences provide to their community,” said Lynch. 


The full report, a map of the 341 study regions and a two-page economic impact summary for each, a sample PowerPoint presentation, and a media toolkit for advocates can be found at A blog discussing these findings in detail is available on Americans for the Arts’ website.


Thirteen national organizations partnered with Americans for the Arts on AEP5, including The United States Conference of Mayors, National Lieutenant Governors Association, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, Destinations International, National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, International City/County Management Association, Independent Sector, Grantmakers in the Arts, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council on Foundations, and The Conference Board. 


Americans for the Arts’ work on AEP5 has been supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Barr Foundation. In addition, Americans for the Arts’ local and statewide study partners contributed both time and a cost-sharing fee to support to the study. Financial information from organizations was collected in partnership with DataArts™, using an online survey interface.


2017 BCA Survey of Business Support for the Arts Webcast

Posted by Jessica Gaines

As employee engagement becomes a priority for companies, many of them are turning to the arts in an effort to fuel attraction and retention. The latest BCA Survey of Business Support for the Arts, Business Contributions to the Arts: 2017 Edition, looks at these trends in support for the arts from small, midsize, and large US businesses.


For the first time since 1969, Americans for the Arts has teamed up with The Conference Board to conduct the survey. In a FREE June 26 webcast at 3pm EST, the two partners will discuss brand new data that covers a range of topics, including trends in arts funding past and present, how arts fuels employee engagement, which companies are more inclined to support the arts and why, and measurement and impact. Learn more.


Emily Peck
Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives
Americans for the Arts

Emily Peck is Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives at Americans for the Arts. She is responsible for providing business and foundation leaders with the information, resources and strategies they need to better partner with and support the arts.

Mark Shugoll
Chief Executive Officer
Shugoll Research

Mark Shugoll, Ph.D. is CEO of Shugoll Research in Washington, DC, one of the nation’s leading marketing research companies for the arts. Its clients include a prestigious roster of nonprofit theaters, symphony orchestras, opera companies, dance companies, performing arts centers, museums, and more.

Alexander Parkinson(Moderator)
Senior Researcher and Associate Director, Society for New Communications Research (SNCR)
The Conference Board

Alex Parkinson is a senior researcher and associate director of the Society for New Communications Research of The Conference Board (SNCR). He specializes in corporate philanthropy and communications and marketing, and is the executive editor of Framing Social Impact Measurement.





Tech Realizes Business Potential in Emerging Playwrights

Posted by Mariama Holman
Tech Realizes Business Potential in Emerging Playwrights

America has over 57 million podcast listeners monthly – roughly 21% of the population.


As a result, media tech businesses are seeking to understand how they can create ear-catching narrative that resonates with these audiences as they traverse throughout their day, from the long drive or subway ride home to running errands around the house.


Content distributors create digital media solutions to this issue across a variety of ways. Fox Networks seeks to pioneer companion podcasts, such as subseries storylines, to build ratings for on-air programming. Apple Car Play and Android Auto will use over 200 models of cars to distribute podcasts to drivers. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are creating opportunities for audio stories to be propagated throughout the home as well.


What does this mean for the creative economy?


When brands vie for break-through content, the creative economy wins.


Ad Age states that brands will need to “give creators the freedom to do what they do best – create content that listeners seek out – rather than producing thinly veiled, brand centric messaging that will be left on the shelf.”


Audiences will need to be presented with real creative, that is, narratives that inspire, engage and entertain, giving the listener substantive narrative, not just another on-air ad.


This poses a challenge for businesses. Where can they find writers with the imagination, talent and willingness to write multi series audio-only frameworks?


Enter, emerging playwrights.  


Audible, an Amazon owned company, recently released a $5M grant to commission hungry young playwrights to create plays designed for the ears, not the eyes. Audible specializes in creating podcasts for download that sell in monthly subscription packages, hosting a wide variety of content such as the podcast Sci-Fi hit, “We Are Legion” to comedy from recognized movers and shakers like Kevin Hart’s “I Can’t Make This Up.”


The company aims to commission about 12 playwrights to create block-buster works. Audible has designed a team of star-studded advisors from the artistic community to vet applicants, such as Tony and Golden Globe award winning actress, Annette Benning and Lynn Nottage, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama awardee and Yale School of Drama Lecturer. 


But don’t misinterpret the grant as simply a nod towards altruism – Amazon invested in a highly strategic move for its bottom-line.


Like Netflix, Amazon seeks to create its own house of branded originals that drive viewership. Amazon simply understands the power of narrative for ad and subscriber revenues, investing billions of dollars a year in creating and owning the rights to original and exclusive content.  In a media world where “content is king” investing in artist-originated narrative that breaks through the clutter is smart business.


In exchange, the creative economy receives the attention and support needed to flourish.


As audiences for podcast content increases, the reputation of the playwrights themselves could grow. Rather than having to relocate to Chicago or New York to kick-off a career in playwrighting, artists could work remotely from anywhere in the country – and possibly be tapped for more opportunities down the line. Furthermore, their works are expanded beyond the four walls of the playhouse as the audiences for new works scale via digital.


New revenue sources for artists are an exercise in further realizing and capitalizing their value to society.


Our conclusion is clear; smart business involves the arts, and smart arts involves business.


Impact Investing in the Arts – Bringing Arts and Business Together for Economic and social Impact

Posted by Mariama Holman
Impact Investing in the Arts – Bringing Arts and Business Together for Economic and social Impact

The impact investing community is starting to realize that the arts and business are one – both seeking to utilize finite resources to create returns beyond profit.


Artists are entrepreneurs who need to access the right kind of capital for starting B Corporations and other social purpose businesses.” – Laura Callanan, Upstart Co-Lab, CEO and Founder.


Monday, June 5th Upstart Co-Lab led a panel on Creative Places and Business: Catalyzing Growth in Communities at Deutsche Bank that highlighted a movement that first began gaining momentum in the early 2000s’ – impact investing in the arts. Upstart works with partners such as the Calvert Foundation to adapt existing impact investing products for the creative economy, helping investors and arts organizations manage risk while measuring and achieving returns.


As indicated at the start of the session by Callanan’s analysis of the JP Morgan and GIIN report, Impact Investments: An Emerging Asset Class, arts and culture is not currently tracked as a segment of impact investments. Why does this matter? As stated in Callanan’s Forbes interview, “there are currently no tools, funds or manager strategies enabling impact investors to align their capital with the creative market.”


What a shame, as key segments currently tracked by JP Morgan and GIIN, such as education and health investing, heavily intersect the work of artists, which by nature impact the same issues.


Don’t believe us?


Take a glimpse at the tremendous body of research on the impact of the arts in education, for instance.


Research conducted in 2008 reveals that participation in the arts reduce high-school dropout rates, especially with students from low-socioeconomic households. Students with high involvement in the arts from these households had a 4% drop-out rate as supposed to the 22% norm for low arts involvement students from the same background.


Arts organizations are situated in a prime spot in society for changing community outcomes but are not recognized or leveraged by impact investors as a critical resource.


According to Laura Callanan, it has traditionally been very difficult for creative economy practitioners, such as those creating artistic or cultural products, to qualify for financing.


But imagine a world where capital was connected with arts organizations that dually functioned as social entrepreneurship firms, B Corps and employee-owned co-ops?


This very well could be the future of social impact investing.


Upstart Co-Lab is not alone in pioneering the way forward. There is a rising tide of organizations working to facilitate the interaction between investors and arts organizations that create a social and financial return, both in the USA and abroad. Examples include the California based Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) and the Arts Impact Fund in the UK.


Funded projects include initiatives such as RedmondDESIGNS, which matches 18-24 year olds with an interest in the arts with job opportunities working in arts and design related businesses.


We could be finally witnessing the genesis of a trend that whittles away the wrongly perceived line dividing artists from economic contributors.  


Coca-Cola Celebrates Local Artists in 10 Artists, 10 Bottles Exhibition

Posted by Mariama Holman

Atlanta has long been touted as a cultural hub, given frequent national nods towards its rap, hip-hop and now, film and TV scene.  Given the onset of a slew of pop-culture phenomena like Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” and the undeniably viral “Dab” alongside other dance trends, the city has successfully rebranded itself with creative currency.


But a question rears itself – how does Hotlanta ensure that this rise in cultural capital expands beyond a hip-today-gone-tomorrow framework and creates an enduring, supportive community for local artists?


Recently, Coca-Cola, headquartered in Atlanta, took a small step towards resolving this issue.


Coke and art in context


Coca-Cola is no stranger to the arts. For years it has collaborated with international artists to transform its brand persona into pop-culture cool, staying relevant in the eyes of consumers for generations.  Andy Warhol himself was inspired by the brand, acknowledging it as a cultural icon in his work.


To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Coca-Cola challenged artists from around the world to recreate images of the bottle in classic Coke colors for the #MashupCoke campaign.  There were over 200 entrants and select bottles were featured in an exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in 2015.


May of 2017, Coke took a different approach to leveraging the arts. In turn, arguably doing more to promote Atlanta’s local visual arts community.


Getting to know the locals


Sally King Benedict, ‘From Sun to Moon’

Rather than just playing up the international locations from which its brand is consumed, Coca-Cola celebrated its immediate Southern surroundings, sharing a snapshot of the many visual artists that were either raised in or recently migrated to Atlanta, with the world.


In essence, Coca-Cola created an arts partnership and marketing mashup with a twist – placing more attention on the local artist and less on the bottle. The bottle becomes a mirror from which the artist, and the Atlanta community itself, reflects their own brand.



So how do these artists view themselves and the community around them? How have their lives been impacted by living in a land where the sugary syrup runs so thick even looking at a different brand of darkly colored soda is in some instances, considered blasphemous?


To answer that question, you are invited to enjoy the work of Demone Phillips, Kathleen Plate and a host of other local artists at the World of Coke’s 10 Artists, 10 Bottles exhibit.


One of the artists is an employee of Coke itself, working in security positions by day and exploring the arts by night. Others recall fond memories of participating in local athletic competitions and community events as children, where the soda’s bubbles lightly fizzed in the background. Each bottle represents a narrative of the artist and the community which reared them.


Branding with the arts


In addressing the pARTnership movement, we revisit Warhol:


A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”   - Andy Warhol


Coke has set an expectation for a product experience, material and immaterial, that resonates across demographics and permeates mass culture.


Small and medium sized businesses can also build their own consumer’s brand expectations by calling out the cultural attributes from the community that differentiate them.


To learn more about arts and business partnerships, contact a member of Americans for the Arts Private Sector team.


Photo Credit: Coca-Cola, May 6, 2017


Former Bank of America Executive Vice President, Walter B. Elcock, says the arts build managerial skills

Posted by Mariama Holman
Former Bank of America Executive Vice President, Walter B. Elcock, says the arts build managerial skills

According to Walter B. Elcock, former Executive Vice President of the BCA 10 awarded Bank of America and current President of the Dallas Museum of Art, regularly attending art events gives aspiring managers a competitive advantage


Elcock began his career studying studio art at the University of North Texas, but transferred to the world of finance after the birth of his first child. He states that the practice of continually engaging the arts from college through his working adult life developed key traits that helped him quickly climb the corporate ladder – rising from management trainee to EVP.


Over time, it became apparent to me that my learning and continuing experiences in the arts were significantly influencing my professional development as an employee, and then more so as an executive. Traits considered critical to corporate analysis and decision-making were forcefully illustrated to me through the arts: curiosity, creativity, fearlessness and perseverance.”


Engaging visual art exhibitions developed interpersonal skills crucial for Elcock’s advancement into executive leadership roles - teaching him how to improve the dynamics between himself, fellow employees, vendors and clients.


Great art will challenge your assumptions of the world and your perception of your place in it. A moving performance will force you to reconcile your emotions with your logic and that can be quite a threat. The reward, however, is significant. For me, I learned to listen more intently and to look at a problem through new eyes. That helped me solve my customer's problems more effectively and build better work relationships.


The skill Elcock developed via the arts is known as decentering, a trait the Harvard Business Review claims is crucial for managing workplace relationships.


Decentering involves taking a figurative step back from one’s beliefs and thoughts, observing a problem from a neutral stand-point and considering alternative points of view.


The Harvard Business Review (HBR) states that decentering is critical for inspiring and motivating others. The skill creates leaders that are better positioned for creating strong teams – seeing people not as problems, but puzzles.   


The manager needs to look at the employee not as a problem to be solved but as a person to be understood.” – Harvard Business Review


How to cultivate decentering in your organization via the arts


In analyzing performance or visual arts, one seeks to observe, understand and then interpret the intentions behind a body of work.

  • What was the artists’ motivation?
  • What action (or inaction) were they seeking to inspire?
  • How does this work fit into the large theme of what has been created?


If you think these questions look like they came directly from art history class you would be correct.


Per Elcock’s example, when applied to the business world, this same analysis framework creates managers that are more in tune to the people and situations around them.


Reason being, studying one’s employees, clients and vendors just as intently as an artist or critic would research and analyze a body of work leads to a greater appreciation of the motivations and driving-factors impacting their behaviors.


Adapt the questions above to your business institution by replacing artist with the appropriate stakeholder, whether an employee, client or third-party vendor. Need help creating and executing a framework? Partner with a local arts organization to offer employees experiences that foster decentering and create stronger teams within your business.


Photo Credit: Dallas Museum of Art, Twitter May 28th, 2017  


Superstore Hits Art Enthusiasts’ Biggest Target: Their Wallets

Posted by Elhadji Mare

It is easy to spot one of Target’s many commercials when they appear on television. They are always filled with various shapes, vivacious colors, and catchy music that is sometimes matched with a short choreographed dance. There is no question that Target understands the importance of the arts to their business and overall expansion as a global superstore. On Target’s website, they categorize working with art organizations as their corporate responsibility, highlighting these collaborations as a necessity for their company. To underscore their commitment, Target sponsors multiple “museum nights” where free admission is offered to the public at some of New York City’s popular museums. They have partnered with the Children's Museum of Manhattan, Brooklyn Museum, and Studio Museum in Harlem to provide complimentary access to these world-renowned exhibition spaces.


Target collaborates with the Children’s Museum to bring Free First Fridays, providing free admission on the first Friday of every month. This program brings art and interactive activities to children, for some, their first encounter with the arts.


Target’s Free First Saturdays is a collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum where on the first Saturday of every month (except September), Target sponsors free admission for the public from 5 to 11 p.m. Each First Saturday is replete with art of different mediums. Events range from video presentations and curator tours of the exhibits, to live music and hands on activities to get patrons more involved with the featured exhibitions.


The Studio Museum in Harlem is unlike the other museums that only have free admission on the first day of every month. It is host to Target’s Free Sundays, and is free each week. At the museum, there are gallery pieces from the likes of Alma Thomas and Richard Hunt, and hands-on activities for kids and adults to create mosaics using glue, paint markers, and cardboard.    


Make sure to check out the Children’s Museum on the first Friday, the Brooklyn Museum on the first Saturday of the month, and the Studio Museum in Harlem every Sunday to take advantage of these great opportunities to explore world-class institutions. Usually in New York City, nothing comes free, but with Target’s support of art museums, they are actually inviting the public to close their wallets and open their hearts and minds to the arts.


Photo: Target


From Technology to Art and Performance, Apple Stores Offering Arts Experiences

Posted by Jessica Gaines


We love seeing hugely successful corporations display thoughtful consideration on integrating the arts into their business in a way that reflects so many ideals of the pARTnership Movement.


And Apple is no exception.


It’s only fitting that a company with such global industry dominance on technology products and a keen eye for enhancing all areas of life, including arts and creativity, would look to merge those elements into its retail spaces.


Trial programs in Apple stores are including presentations from community artists and photographers, as well as concerts and talks from bigger names, such as when hip-hop producer RZA led an “Art of Beatmaking” session at the company’s Brooklyn store last fall. The company plans to release a fuller slate of events around the country starting this month called “Today at Apple” and here’s what to expect:


Signature Programs in the retail locations lead by performers, makers, creators, illustrators and more.

Live Art - Experience art come to life as talented artists create with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Hear their stories and go deeper into the craft. Explore new techniques with hands-on sessions. Or just enjoy a music performance as artists illustrate live.


Sketch Walks - Go on a fun walk to new locations and learn how to sketch, paint, and draw with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.


Perspectives- Go behind the story of two influencers on one subject. Hear their stories of creative process, inspiration, and more.


Music Lab- Discover how to create beats and make music taught by our favorite musicians, producers, and DJs.


Photo Lab- Go deeper into the craft of photography and experiment with new techniques and styles taught by talented photographers.


Creative Sessions in the retail locations including courses in Digital Art, Photo Walks – Telling a Story in Your Photos, How To Make Music on the iPad and iPhone, How To Sketch, Draw, and Paint with iPad, Studio Hours: Art & Design Projects, and more.



Additionally, as Apple moves to turn its stores into experiences, in Washington, D.C., the company has set its sights on the Carnegie Library in Mount Vernon Square. One of thousands of libraries built nationwide with funds donated by steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, it opened in 1903 as the first desegregated public building in the city. The goal is to continue Apple’s practice of filling historic buildings with new experiences including technology products, while respecting the building’s history and significant legacy.


Photo: A rendering of Apple’s vision for a restored Carnegie Library in Mount Vernon Square via Apple


pARTnership Movement Profiles: A Singing Media Mogul and a Choreographing Management Consultant

Posted by Jessica Gaines

We have covered it here before, CEOs and business leaders who find their artistic practice very integral in the success of running their business. Let’s cover two more leaders who have proven that arts and business do indeed complement each other and make for valuable business lessons.


WHO: David Steinberger


WHAT: Juilliard-trained vocal artist, also CEO and cofounder of comiXology, an subsidiary that’s the largest distributor of digital comic books


SAY WHAT?!: In 1998, after graduating from Juilliard, Steinberger abandoned his artistic dreams of singing at The Met and instead began training Wall Street bankers and lawyers to present to audiences–first at Credit Suisse and then as a temp assigned to different firms.


He’s won a business plan competition while still an MBA student at NYU, raised an estimated $2.85 million in venture and seed financing in comiXology’s early days, lead annual “ask me anything” open forums at San Diego Comic Con, and orchestrated an Amazon buyout in April 2014 – proving he has built a lucrative business career getting others to listen to him.


QUOTABLE: To this day, he credits singing for helping him find his business voice. “When you’re performing solo–just you and your pianist, which I love to do–you’re very exposed. You learn to be really, really prepared before going on stage”.






READ MORE: Singing Opera Helps This Media Mogul Find His Business Voice



WHO: Sydney Skybetter


WHAT: A choreographer, curator and consultant focusing on issues of change, choreography and technology. Both his TEDx talk and Twitter give great insight into the work and research.


TELL ME MORE!: He’s catalyzed innovation inside organizations ranging from The National Ballet of Canada to Hasbro, Bloomberg Philanthropies to the University of Southern California.


He produces an annual symposium called the Conference for Research on Choreographic Interfaces (CRCI) to gather dancers, ethnographers, computer scientists, artists and others to think about how we choreograph our devices, and how they choreograph us. Oh, he’s also faculty at Brown University.


QUOTABLE: “If you want to fire people and ratchet up efficiency, hire a suit. If you want your team to ideate and move seamlessly together, hire a choreographer.”


READ MORE: Meet The Choreographer Shaking Up Organizations By Chasing The Silences


Photo: Steinberger via Fast Company and Skybetter via Safety Third Productions.


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