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When businesses partner for social impact, everyone wins

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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When businesses partner for social impact, everyone wins

The Leesa Dream Gallery™”,the world’s first combined mattress store and art gallery is a solid illustration of art breathing life into communities. In this high-end retail concept, you can naturally experience a beautifully crafted mattress while appreciating artwork created by undiscovered artists seeking to change their lives through their art – no pushy salespeople allowed.

 

The gallery is a partnership between Leesa®,the high-end, direct-to-consumer online mattress company, and ArtLifting, an online art marketplace for homeless, disabled, and other disadvantaged artists to sell their artwork. 

 

This collaboration of two forward-thinking companies can be attributed to Leesa and ArtLifting’s unique shared sentiment of ‘create opportunity and change lives’. “Having successfully introduced a new mattress and a new way to shop online in our first year, The Leesa Dream Gallery is the next frontier. Combining with ArtLifting to create a new kind of retail experience while giving homeless and disabled artists a platform to show and sell their art is a dream come true,” said Leesa Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer David Wolfe. “People in need don’t want a handout, they want the ability to change their lives,” said Liz Powers, ArtLifting co-founder and chief happiness spreader. 

 

As the two joined to build this first mattress retail/gallery of its kind, they imprinted a path for social enterprise and business to use art as a means for storytelling, customer engagement, and enhanced quality of life. Where else will you see a business focused on bringing a premium memory foam mattress that looks better, feels better, and costs less coupled with a for-profit enterprise dedicated to providing a platform for artists to empower themselves through the celebration and sale of their artwork?

 

And, what are the wins for each business? Leesa’s product became rated higher than all of its direct-to-consumer competitors and they became the number one fastest growing e-retailer according to Internet Retailer’s 2016 Top 500 Guide. Leesa also released a stunning limited edition mattress cover inspired by a formerly homeless artist discovered by ArtLifting. And ArtLifting’s artist received a percentage of every sale. And by securing income and connecting with a larger audience, their artists garner positivity that permeates every aspect of their lives.

 

 

Photo courtesy of ArtLifting.

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Samsung’s Day of Service is a Day for the Arts

Posted by Chris Zheng
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Samsung’s Day of Service is a Day for the Arts

Samsung is a global leader in all things technology, from consumer electronics to semiconductors to information systems and more. On May 13th, Samsung dedicated time to the community in order to add arts advocacy to that list. For the company’s fourth semiannual Day of Service, Samsung New York employees teamed up to throw an Art Prep Party for Free Arts NYC, an organization that provides over 1,600 underserved children and families with high-quality arts education and mentorship programs to support self-confidence and resiliency. Employees helped paint bags and make art supplies for Free Arts NYC programs, providing employees with a unique opportunity to give back to the community while also showing off their creative skills.

 

The event took place at Samsung’s innovative and immersive space, Samsung 837, which opened this past February. Samsung 837 is a one-of-a-kind digital playground, marketing center, and cultural destination that aims to engage the public with its products and get in touch with the cultural epicenter that is New York City.

 

The center’s creative potential speaks to Samsung’s far reaching support of all kinds of art forms. Vice President and General Manager at Samsung 837, Zach Overton, said “we have a proven track record of innovation, and with Samsung 837, we are creating the flagship of the future. 837 is a fully immersive cultural center, featuring programming which will tap into people’s passions such art, music, entertainment, sports, wellness, culinary, technology and fashion, all powered and enriched by technology.” Partnered with local artists and the nearby Whitney Museum of Art, Samsung 837 provides a stunning gallery space for visual arts programming as well as an open radio and DJ studio.

 

It is no surprise that Samsung has engaged with the local community to support important initiatives. A press release for the Day of Service stated: “At Samsung, we believe in being an active corporate citizen, investing in the communities where we work and live. Our employees power our drive to make the world a better place. During our semiannual Day of Service, our offices across the country – from New Jersey to California – close and our employees spend time supporting local and national charities and organizations.”

 

Through its partnership with the arts, Samsung has boosted its brand and become a dependable and welcomed member of the community, reinforcing their decision to create a flagship tech center in New York City, “where the best marketing happens and where people have a finger on the pulse of culture. As a result, [Samsung has] and will continue to attract top talent from around the world.”

 

Samsung creates technology that powers the future. In supporting and partnering with local arts programs for arts education, the future that they envision is sure to be a promising and creative one.

 

Photo from www.samsung.com/us/news 

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Packaging Your Impact: How Con Edison Engages Its Employees through the ABC/NY Diversity in Arts Leadership Program

Posted by Emma Osore
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Packaging Your Impact: How Con Edison Engages Its Employees through the ABC/NY Diversity in Arts Leadership Program

At first glance, the Arts and Business Council of New York’s (ABC/NY) Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) internship program looks like your typical summer arts internship: undergraduates descend on the city and ABC/NY helps them get their foot in the door of one of NYCs coveted arts and culture sector organizations.

 

However, you might not guess that DIAL doubles as an arts-based platform to engage employees in the corporate sector. Huh? How?

 

The Diversity in Arts Leadership Program (DIAL) (formerly the Multicultural Arts Management) internship program was created by the Arts & Business Council of New York in 1988 to promote diversity in the arts management field.

 

Con Edison, energy provider to NYC and Westchester County, is a 16-year partner of ABC/NY and funder of over $2.54 million annually in arts and culture funding. They also recognize the value of fostering a corporate culture of community involvement and helping employees develop new skills through nonprofit partnerships. Not only do they financially subsidize Diversity in Arts Leadership intern stipends for the summer and provide in-kind event space, but also - here’s the added bonus - their employees have volunteered their personal time to fill two-thirds of DIALs business mentor roles.

 

Elizabeth Matias, Con Edison Project Specialist and DIAL mentor, reports that she can clearly see Con Edison’s commitment to the neighborhoods and communities they serve come full circle - “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. As a former dancer, the Diversity in Arts Leadership program embodies my belief of how arts and business can go hand-in-hand”. She credits her mentorship role as a main contributor to her satisfaction as an employee of Con Edison and cited that a corporate volunteer program like Con Edison’s would be a top consideration for her if she ever moved to another company. 

 

Not only does Con Edison’s business mentor commitment strengthen the capacity of a young leader but it also strengthens their own business goals and engages their employees in a meaningful way. In the current workforce climate where the research tells us that that low employee engagement is a business crisis, that baby boomer leaders are looking for opportunities to pass along leadership, and that corporate philanthropy is one of the best ways to retain employees, Con Edison has been in the lead on addressing these workforce issues of our day.

 

The Diversity in Arts Leadership program is an incredible example of a fully integrated partnership between an arts organization and a corporation that not only invests in the arts community and develops leadership in arts and business interns of color but, in its own employees - which ultimately affect its bottom line.

 

Companies wanting to create similar ecosystems that have long lasting benefits should consider the following tips from experts on how to select and promote initiatives like this one that fit a company’s culture, community, and budget:

 

Stay local. Focusing on worthy programs in the cities where a company operates will attract more attention from local talent and create authentic opportunities to talk about the company’s work in the community.- Steven Lindner, executive partner with The Workplace Group, a recruitment process outsourcing company based in Florham Park, New Jersey.

 

Don’t just write a check. Provide employees opportunities to volunteer their time and participate in the giving. “Employees value the opportunity to get involved, and they love to share those experiences on social media,” It is an organic way to get your CSR story out there and have a strong community presence. - Anna Turner, vice president of product management for PeopleMatter, a workforce management software provider in Charleston, South Carolina.

 

Let employees choose. When employees are involved in selecting CSR programs, they will be more engaged in the experience. “They become ambassadors for the program and your brand.” - Ryan McCarty, director of community and employee engagement at TCC, a Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer.

 

Don’t attach marketing to CSR. “People don’t like to be sold to, but if you just talk about what you believe in, like-minded people will gravitate your way.” - Steven Lindner, The Workplace Group

 

Check Out ABC/NYs Matching Portal to learn more about how your company can engage employees through the arts in NYC – surprising things come in unassuming packages.

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Storefront Art Walk Puts Brooklyn Artists, Businesses, and Community in the Spotlight

Posted by Emma Osore
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Storefront Art Walk Puts Brooklyn Artists, Businesses, and Community in the Spotlight

 

SAW was created in 2010 by local artist and business owner John Avelluto (The Owl’s Head Wine Bar) and business owner Heather Hamilton (Long’s Wine & Liquors) as a way to showcase the diverse community of Bay Ridge and give it a unique platform for engagement and dialogue with the visual arts. By supporting and promoting emerging local artists and celebrating local Bay Ridge businesses, SAW broadly explores the intersection between commerce, art and community. While Bay Ridge is home to many artists, the neighborhood is under-served and underfunded in terms of public arts spending and grants.

 

SAW, an annual event in its 7th year, is sponsored by the 5th Avenue Business Improvement District, Brooklyn Arts Council, Red Hook Winery, Bubbles and Suds Laundromat and SixPoint Brewery. This year there will be fifteen artists working with a variety of visual media to present individual art projects in storefront windows.  From 68th Street all the way to 84th Street on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge, the event will feature artwork as varied as the participating businesses.

 

The artists were selected by a jury of six based on artistic merit, feasibility, and an ability to successfully engage with the Bay Ridge community. Mollie Flanagan, Program Manager and Curator of The NARS Foundation and one of this year’s jurors, said: "I look forward to seeing the ultimate productions of this diverse group of artists. Creating a unique synergy between the businesses on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge and Brooklyn artists, SAW is set to bring about another exciting year of site-specific art to the community.”

 

Each artist will choose a 5th Avenue business and create a unique installation with the particular business in mind. There is no cost to the merchant and the artist will install their own work. Beginning on May 14, 2016 each SAW artist will display in a storefront window so that Bay Ridge residents and visitors alike can enjoy the unique pieces while outside the establishment. Walking maps will be distributed at participating businesses.

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The Art of Pizza in NYC

Posted by Kate Reese
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The Art of Pizza in NYC

When a love of art and Italian food combine, the result is delizioso. In 2011, local entrepreneurs and Neapolitan food purveyors Bruno Cilio and Dario Cipollaro de l’Ero opened a combination restaurant and art gallery, PizzArte, located steps from the Museum of Modern Art.

 

PizzArte curator Sunny Shin, who also curates for Coohaus and Gallery Ho, rotates pieces for the gallery every four to six months, displaying pieces from prominent Italian and international artists. Two such talents are sculptors and painters Paola Romano, who has exhibited at the Venetian Biannual, and Lello Esponito, who has shown in the United States, Italy, and Spain.

 

The art features help PizzArte convey the restaurant’s emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. “The idea was to create a place that wasn’t just going to feed your stomach, but your mind,” said owner Bruno Cilio to a DNAinfo reporter. Cilio firmly believes that fine art should be experienced on more than just gallery walls. He views the restaurant as “less a business venture than a way to celebrate the art, food and traditions of home,” the article states.

 

PizzArte’s owners draw connections between the hand-painted art on the restaurant’s walls and the hand-made artisan pizzas in their kitchen. The hope is that customers will feel engaged with the work on display, “providing an opportunity to intimately engage with it and to have the feeling of actually living with art.”

 

Photo: PizzArte Facebook page. 

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Celebrating STEAM at NASDAQ

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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On February 4, 2016, We Connect The Dots–a STEAM education program–joined with Microsoft to ring the opening bell of the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City.

 

The ceremony celebrated the success of We Connect the Dots, its partnership with Microsoft, and their collective work to close the opportunity divide in technology, education and STEAM education. We Connect the Dots was founded by former Microsoft employee Laurie Carey.

 

The event signaled to business leaders worldwide the value of arts education in creating tomorrow's leaders in the business world and beyond.

 

"In addition to being one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, Microsoft is dedicated to addressing the opportunity divide that too many young people face. Working with nonprofits like We Connect the Dots, Microsoft is working to close the gap between those that have access to the skills and training they need to be successful, and those who do not." --Michael Sokoll, CFA, Senior Managing Director on the Market Intelligence Desk

 

o ring the opening bell of the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City. - See more at: http://www.americansforthearts.org/news-room/art-in-the-news/steam-program-rings-nasdaq-opening-bell?utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=poherron@artsusa.org&utm_content=creativity%5Fconnection%5F2%5F4%5F16&utm_campaign=Creativity%20Connection%3A%20February%202016#sthash.HQJtWDz5.dpuf
We Connect The Dots – a STEAM education program

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Microsoft & Apple Unite Through Song

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Microsoft & Apple Unite Through Song

"From now on... if we haven't got exactly what the customer wants, we'll send him where he can get it. No high pressuring and forcing a customer to take something he doesn't really want. We'll be known as the helpful store..the friendly store...the store with a heart...the store that places public service ahead of profits. And, consequently, we'll make more profits than ever before." --Mr. Macy, Miracle on 34th Street.

 

Throughout 2015, we featured the results of many research studies and case studies in our newsletter and on this site that show the increasingly powerful impact of the arts on a business's bottom line and recruitment efforts. Now, as the year comes to a close, we bring you a great example of how Microsoft, a 2013 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America recipient, broke through the cluttered holiday marketing-sphere through song this year to send a message to customers and employees that the holiday season means more than just sales.

 

According to the company's YouTube page, "to celebrate the holidays, Microsoft employees, who were selected from across the country, gathered together, meeting each other for the first time, at the new Microsoft 5th Ave Store to spread some holiday wishes. Joined by a local NYC children's youth choir, they share a message of peace and harmony with their neighbor down the street." Microsoft's caroling session took place in front of Apple's iconic flagship store.

 

Microsoft videotaped its employees, and posted the video on YouTube, where it received over 207,900 views and media coverage, including an article which stated, "Yes, Apple and Microsoft are rivals, but at the end of the day, it's the people that matter. It's a message that gets lost this time of year during the holiday sales...Whatever the true intent, whether it's the kindest form of trolling imaginable or truly a message of cheer for a respected rival, you have to tip your hat to Microsoft on this one."

 

 

Apple, in turn, has been running a television commercial featuring Stevie Wonder using Apple products to record a Christmas song with R&B singer Andra Day and his children. The YouTube video featuring the commercial has received over 3,203,767 views.

 

 

Read more stories about how the arts have helped businesses cut through the clutter to convey strategic messages, and read an essay on the topic.

 

Photo: Microsoft YouTube video.

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CEO Shares 6 Ways Dance Helps Him Lead

Posted by Kate Reese
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Mathew Heggem is a dancer turned CEO of SUM Innovation, a 15 person company that assesses, designs, implements, and manages accounting solutions. After working in the nonprofit world for many years, Matthew changed his career to seek out new experiences. Though one may not think that “choreographer” and “accounting consultant” share many characteristics, Matthew says building a business is creative work.


“I saw building a business as an opportunity to continue my exploration as a creative person. A new business is a blank canvas, and it’s all a matter of leveraging your creativity to create something worthwhile within the context of your resources,” Matthew says in an article on Simply Hired's blog.

 

Creativity enables innovative thinking, and an exposure to art can equip future employees with qualifications that translate across fields. “Discovering the overlap between the outputs of dance and accounting paved the way for me to effectively take on a CEO role.... Instead of seeing myself as only a skilled dance artist, I looked at what made me a choreographer and found that my talents applied to more than just the stage.”
 

Read 6 ways that this CEO’s dance training helps him as a leader in business.

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Art Comes to Coney Island

Posted by Kate Reese
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Art Comes to Coney Island

Coney Island – an iconic summer destination best known for its beach and amusement park, will now also be known for its art. This spring, street artists partnered with New York City based real estate development and investment firm Thor Equities to transform an empty lot in the center of Coney Island into the new Coney Island Art Walls. The summer-long project was conceived by founder of Thor Equities and Coney Island native, Joseph Sitt, who hoped to bring arts to the community, help revitalize the boardwalk, and promote economic development.

 

According to Sitt, “Coney Island has struggled for decades and lost a lot of the sparkle that once drew millions each summer from New York and beyond. In the long term, we aspire to return the luster to Coney and bring it back to being a playground not just for New Yorkers, but for the world.”

 

Featuring the illustrated works of more than 30 local and international artists, the 50,000 square foot space has murals ranging from the work of local studio artist Jane Dickson to pieces from well-known international artists such as the Belgian artist, ROA. The wide spectrum of artist backgrounds is reflective of the diverse population of beach goers who visit Coney Island’s each summer.

 

Thor Equities has been involved in several real estate development projects on Brooklyn’s southern-most neighborhood, and feels committed to honoring Coney Island’s past while preserving its future. “Coney Art Walls is the next exciting step in our ongoing plans to help restore the vitality of Coney Island, and build on our successes in the neighborhood.”Sitt believes now is the perfect time for a project of this caliber. “In 2014, Coney Island recorded its best season in decades, with more than 11.45 million people visiting the beach and boardwalk.”

 

The art walls were curated by Jeffrey Deitch, the former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and an art dealer in New York. You can see several murals as well ascommissioned works and community walls from renowned artists Shepard Fairey, Daze, Crash, Futura, Lady Pink, How & Nosm, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, and Kenny Scharf.

With the programmatic and promotional help of the Coney Island Museum, the project site was also home to events and music programming throughout the summer, including Coney Smorgasburg, which features 12 diverse food vendors and a bar serving craft beer and wine.

 

Thor Equities hopes that the impact of Coney Island Art Walls on the neighborhood will endure beyond summertime. This concept is perhaps best captured by the text at the bottom of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s mural titled Coney Island Portraits: "The day before Easter, and the day after Labor Day – people still live here. People die here. People love here."

 

*Photo by Martha Cooper

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Dance & Design Take Flight for Cole Haan’s Fall ‘15 Line

Posted by Kate Reese
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Dance & Design Take Flight for Cole Haan’s Fall ‘15 Line

Cole Haan recently partnered with parkour athletes and dancers from the New York City Ballet (NYCB) on an ad campaign “Prepare for Takeoff,” designed to convey the ultra-lightness of the company’s new ZeroGrand shoe line. The dancers were photographed in gravity-defying poses at the TWA Flight Center in JFK International Airport, an airy, futuristic space designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1962.

 

The terminal is the perfect setting to promote the ZeroGrand. “The thing that kind of drew me to it was the idea of ‘take flight,’ which is something that comes very naturally to those dancers,” Cole Haan design director Elyse Siegal told Footwear News. The campaign also promotes Cole Haan’s new Global Innovation Center, which is responsible for a variety of design platforms including the Grand.OS technology used in ZeroGrand.

 

In addition to collaborating on the ad campaign, Cole Haan also partnered with NYCB to create the ZeroGrand Stagedoor Ballet Flat, part of its new fall line.

 

Not only did Cole Haan benefit from the partnership, but according to Sara Mearns, one of the dancers featured in the campaign, the project “challenged the whole cast to think of how creatively we could bring lightness, flexibility, and cushioning to life visually with our movement.” The result is an aesthetic that is both graceful and athletic, conveying a reputation for traditional excellence in combination with groundbreaking artistry. The partnership illuminates the power of the arts to help convey a message about a new product in a deeply emotional, visually captivating way.

 

More information about the partnership and behind-the-scenes footage can be found here.

 

Learn how Payless ShoeSource benefited from partnering with the American Ballet Theatre in The pARTnership Movement essay, "Put Your Company in the Spotlight."

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