Up to the minute news on arts and business partnerships.


Americans for the Arts Takes Nashville by Storm for its Annual Convention

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

Officially beginning today, Friday, June 13, Americans for the Arts has landed in Nashville for its Annual Convention--a convening of arts and community leaders to network and discuss strategies for building stronger towns, counties, and cities through the arts. The discussions surrounding arts and business will be ever-present, with Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville Executive Director Casey Summar speaking about placing artists inside businesses to help advance their goals, and Vice President and Artistic Director of Arts Brookfield (a 2014 BCA 10 honoree) Debra Simon speaking on innovative corporate partnerships. Click on the following article from the Nashville Business Jounral to read about the Convention and the growing ties between Nashville's business and arts communities. #AFTAcon


Ties that bind: National spotlight on Nashville arts and business connections


“One of the things that inspired us to come back [to Nashville]… is the incredible amount of partnerships between the for-profit community and the nonprofit arts sector. Communities are changing so quickly. It’s really important that arts communities across the country see good examples… Nashville is an awesome, awesome place to showcase that.”

-Clayton Lord, Vice President of Local Arts Advancement, Americans for the Arts


“I think there is definitely a change in the way that business is partnering with the arts. It’s not just giving money, it’s looking at ways they can partner to advance business and creative goals.”


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


United Arts Funding: Why It Matters

Posted by Jordan Lohf

Have you ever wanted to give to the arts institutions in your community, but were concerned about oversight and accountability? Or, maybe you see the potential in the arts as an economic driver for your area, but don’t know how to create the most possible impact. Supporting or starting a United Arts Fund (UAF) may be the solution you were looking for. 


UAFs are nonprofit organizations that raise local money for the arts in a combined effort for three or more cultural institutions. Primarily, UAFs are created by business leaders that want to see a strong arts community in their area, but want to ensure their support is utilized to create the largest impact possible. Today, allocations of UAF funds are increasingly more open to the diversity of the community, requiring member organizations to reflect the differences and needs of the whole community through project grants, capital grants, capacity building grants and neighborhood and community grants. Community planning is also becoming a large driver in funding and allocation decisions.


The Greater Hartford United Arts Fund, a member of the Americans for the Arts Private Sector Network, is a great example of how a UAF can help vital arts organizations “live and breathe,” as one arts leader put it. By providing general operating support, programming grants, and educating the community about the different area arts organizations and what they have to offer, the Greater Hartford United Arts Fund is strengthening the arts community and the greater Hartford area as a whole.


Click the video below to view images and testimonials of the art and organizations Greater Harford United Arts Fund is supporting in its efforts to maintain and bolster the local arts community.


For more information on UAF chapters in your community, contact Valerie Beaman, Private Sector Initiatives Coordinator, at



Louisville Arts Leader Honored by Americans for the Arts

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

Administered annually since 1991, the Michael Newton Award is given to an individual, staff member or volunteer in recognition of his or her innovation in developing private sector partnerships for the arts and/or long-term achievement in effective, and creative fundraising techniques. This year, the award goes to Barbara Sexton Smith, president and CEO of the Fund for the Arts, the oldest united arts fund in the country, which raises money for arts institutions and programs throughout the greater Louisville area. She will be presented with the award Saturday, June 15 at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Pittsburgh. 


The award’s namesake, Michael Newton, came to the United States from England in the late 1960s and soon after began serving as director of the Arts and Sciences Council of Greater St. Louis. He also served as president of the Los Angeles Music Center and the American Council for the Arts. This award honors his distinguished career in the united arts fund field, advancement of consolidated fundraising strategies on the behalf of multiple arts institutions in the community, and exemplary management and leadership skills.


"It is such an honor to be receiving this award," comments Sexton Smith. "I'll bring it home and share it with our entire community because they are the ones who deserve this. We are lucky to live in a place where the arts are paid for and provided for everyone. I believe art is the common thread that connects all humanity and I get up every day looking for ways to create community connections through the arts. We believe a great American city is safe, healthy, educated and vibrant. The Arts are key to making this happen. Together through the Arts we create a great American city!"


In Sexton Smith’s tenure at the Fund for the Arts, the average gift through the workplace campaign grew from $87 in 2001 to more than $167 in 2011. The percentage of total dollars raised from employee campaigns increased by 25%.


Sexton Smith is also responsible for the creation of the Fund's NeXt! leadership development program, the goal of which is to prepare the next generation for volunteer leadership roles in the area of arts and cultural interests, with a strategic focus on strong corporate citizenship. Throughout the program’s two year commitment, NeXt! members attend monthly educational sessions about fundraising and professional development and are paired for fieldwork with one of the Fund’s cultural partners. Not only is NeXt! an exceptional fundraising technique (all 44 NeXt! host organizations are also donors to the Fund), it is an innovative example of a partnership with the private sector. Regional law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC has sponsored the program for the past three years, absorbing the cost for program participants.


Americans for the Arts is pleased to honor Barbara Sexton Smith as the 2013 Michael Newton awardee for her exemplary leadership skills and extraordinary long-term achievement in effective and creative fundraising in the Louisville community. 


For more information on the Michael Newton Award, visit To learn more about the programs and initiatives at Louisville’s Fund for the Arts, visit  


Yo-Yo Ma Urges “STEAM” to Drive the Nation’s Workforce

Posted by Patrick O'Herron


On Monday, April 8, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma was the guest speaker at Americans for the Arts’ annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center in D.C. The Lecture was the kick-off for Arts Advocacy Day 2013, the annual convention of arts advocates from across the country to advance federal support of the arts, humanities, and arts education.


In his speech, Ma made the case that the arts embody many of the characteristics employers are seeking in today’s workforce. He states:


“One of the topics I’ve been reading about recently is what kind of work force we need in the 21st century. What will our graduates need in order to succeed?  The experts say we need four qualities in our students and in our workforce. They need to be:


  • Collaborative,
  • Flexible,
  • Imaginative,
  • and Innovative.


“Now according to the 2012 IBM Global CEO Study, ‘Collaboration is the number‐one trait CEOs are seeking in their employees, with 75 percent of CEOs calling it critical.’ (“Leading Through Connections: Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Study”)


“The Council on Competitiveness says, ‘Those who learn to innovate will prosper in a global economy.’ (“Thrive. The Skills Imperative”)


“The Center for Public Education calls out ‘creativity and intellectual flexibility’ among other competencies. (“Defining a 21st  Century Education: At a Glance”)


Ma went on to discuss the national movement from STEM education (science + technology + engineering + mathematics) to STEAM education (science + technology + engineering + arts + mathematics), stating, “STEM without STEAM loses steam, but STEM with STEAM will power our country forward. The qualities crucial to success in the 21st Century workforce will not come just from studying science, technology and engineering and math, as important as those disciplines are.”


Hundreds of arts leaders and supporters joined Ma on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, pressing for an increase in arts funding from the federal government. The goal is for funding for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to be restored to $155 million each per year. After 2012 budget cuts, the NEA received appropriations of approximately $146 million. Funding for the organization, which provides support to artists and arts organizations throughout the country, has steadily decreased each year.


Click the video link below to see Yo-Yo Ma’s full speech and performances from the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy. For more information on Arts Advocacy Day 2013, visit




Creative Conversations: art of the partnership

Posted by Patrick O'Herron




On November 27, 2012, Americans for the Arts and The Conference Board convened business leaders and artists for a discussion about how the business and arts sectors can leverage their respective resources to achieve vital industry objectives. The gathering, the first of a series of Creative Conversations, was hosted by Dominion Energy and Altria with significant support from CultureWorks, and took place at Altria and at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Click the following link to read an op-ed article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch written by Americans for the Arts CEO Bob Lynch and The Conference Board CEO Jon Spector regarding the first of these Creative Conversations and the future of the relationship between arts and business.


Creative Conversations: art of the partnership


Arts Mean Business - Conversations in Local Communities

Posted by Timarie Harrigan


In a conversation centered on the pARTnership Movement and how businesses can partner with the arts to strengthen the economic vitality of Long Island, East End Arts is hosting Americans for the Arts’ own Emily Peck as keynote speaker of the forum Arts Mean Business on Thursday, September 20, from 9 AM until 1 PM at the Suffolk Theater.


Earlier this week Emily spoke with WPKN about the pARTnership Movement and the Arts Mean Business Forum. Take a listen!



East End Arts invites business owners, artists, local government, arts organizations, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and community members to this arts and business forum with keynote presentation and panel discussion. For information and to register,

Spotlight On: Suku Radia, President & CEO of Bankers Trust Company

Posted by Emily Peck

We sat down with Suku Radia, the newest member of our Business Committee for the Arts Executive Board, to discuss his personal giving philosophy and strategy.


Q. What directs your personal philanthropy and is that mirrored in the work of Bankers Trust?


A. We are a privately held bank and just completed our best year of financial performance in our 95-year   history. We are Iowa’s largest community bank. We contribute at least $1 million annually to the community. My wife and I are very generous because we have been blessed with two great careers and three gifted children.


Q. You are incredibly involved in the Des Moines community. Why is giving back so important to you?


A. It is about paying my civic rent. I watched my father’s dedication to community growing up in Uganda. I firmly believe that I have an obligation to leave the community a better place than I found it. It is the “right thing” to do.


Q. Could you describe the ways your engagement and support of the arts has evolved?


A. Very early in my career, I became involved with United Way. As Des Moines embarked on a commitment to the arts, I realized that I could not only support human/social services, but the arts also.


The arts are vital not only for the vibrancy and attractiveness of a community, but they are an integral component of education. Throughout my career, I have been involved in my community. Serving on 15 nonprofit boards has made me realize that for a community to be really successful, it has to come together efficiently and effectively.


Q. The pARTnership Movement, illustrates how engaging with arts organizations can help a company build its brand, attract new business, and retain employees. Is this how you see the partnerships with arts organizations, like Bravo Greater Des Moines?


A. Whenever I become involved in recruiting a senior executive to Central Iowa, which I do a fair amount, I always point out the strength of our arts and culture organizations. One has to disabuse them of the notion that we grow corn in downtown Des Moines! Our partnerships with major arts and culture organizations are very effective because what we have to offer is truly world class. Our senior executives from the major arts organizations are very well-connected and they do a great job of collaborating with the business community. Bravo has elevated the profile of the arts organizations. We place significant emphasis on education with full recognition of helping the kids from underprivileged families. We offer a quality of life second to none.


Suku Radia is President & CEO of Bankers Trust Company in Des Moines, Iowa.


Combining Economics and Arts

Posted by Valerie Beaman

“The reality of life in the 21st century is that the skills associated with artistic practices—creative thinking, self-discipline, collaboration and innovation—are vital to succeeding in a rapidly changing global economy,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. To recognize this, Americans for the Arts and the NABE Foundation, the charitable arm of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) presented Amy Serrano with the 2011 NABE Foundation Americans for the Arts Scholarship Award.


Lynch continued, “It’s a pleasure to partner with the NABE Foundation for the third year to recognize student achievement in both the arts and economics. These awards reflect a fundamental belief that the arts are a key component in helping to prepare students to exceed, and indeed thrive, in the workplace and society of the future.” 


A native of Peru, Amy comes from a musical family.  According to Amy, “I strongly feel and understand that it is my responsibility and duty to offer even half the opportunity that I received here in America to explore, learn and create music so that I can pass it on to others around my community and the world.” As part of a master’s program in Business Administration at Point Loma Nazarene University, Amy plans to combine her Finance and Economics education with her passion for music to create the first Bilingual Music Academy for inner city children.


Established in 2008, this is the third year for the award which was created to encourage the integration of the arts and economics. "Awarding the NABE-AFTA scholarship has not only proven an important investment in maintaining the out-of-the box creative thinking we need at a critical time in our economic history, but it has brought people into higher levels of education who might not have had access otherwise. Our applicants must not only demonstrate excellence but need as well, something that provides returns not only to the NABE Foundation, but society as a whole," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial and a NABE Foundation Board member. "This is one of a myriad of ways that the NABE Foundation is both enhancing the credibility and quality of economic analysis. It's about investing in human capital, plain and simple."


To hear from the 2010 scholarship winner, Sarah Cortell Vandersypen, check ARTSblog.


Read more about the NABE-AFTA scholarship.


*Photo of Amy Serrano.

Conoce a Pedro

Posted by Emily Peck

The pARTnership Movement ads are now available in Spanish.  For more ideas on how to use the ads in business publications, chamber of commerce newsletters, company intranets and more, check out The pARTnership Movement tool-kit.  To access the ads, contact us.







Iowa View: Fine arts nurture growth of cities

Posted by Robert Lynch and Suku Radia

By Robert Lynch, President & CEO, Americans for the Arts and Suku Radia, President and CEO, Bankers Trust Company


Creative placemaking — leveraging the arts to help shape and revitalize the physical, social, and economic character of neighborhoods, cities and towns — is a hot topic across the country right now, in light of the National Endowment for the Arts’ ArtsPlace America initiative. And utilizing the arts to effect a transformative impact on community vibrancy is something the greater Des Moines area has been doing, and doing successfully, for many years now.


Dating back more than a century with the “City Beautiful” program — which inspired the construction of some of Des Moines most beautiful Beaux Arts public buildings, including the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, the Polk County Administrative Building and the City Hall — Des Moines and its residents knew that the best way to attract people and businesses was to ensure their city was a place where residents could not just work but truly live. And they knew a thriving arts community was the best way to ensure Greater Des Moines would always be an attractive and energetic place.


The drive for and successes of quality creative placemaking in Greater Des Moines are still going strong today. The Greater Des Moines region has a range of diverse arts, cultural and heritage offerings. The city boasts numerous museums, and performing and visual arts options are plentiful.


In addition, the city’s architectural heritage is significant. What’s more, Des Moines’ commitment to arts and culture, as part of its very fabric, is evident from the moment you arrive in town and see both the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the soon-to-be-completed Principal Riverwalk.


Without the arts, Greater Des Moines would not be the culturally vibrant place it is today. But it takes a team to create and sustain an arts sector as rich and diverse as Greater Des Moines’. And one of the key players in the city’s arts funding ecosystem is its business sector.


Greater Des Moines’ dynamic arts community exists in part because many local business leaders have ensured their companies have engaged in deep partnerships with Greater Des Moines’ arts sector throughout the years. These leaders have a clear understanding that arts and culture are essential to the health and vitality of the community. But they also know that when their company’s partnership with the arts goes deeper than mere sponsorship, they will see the positive impact that partnership rewards to the company’s own bottom line.


And in this current economic environment, businesses are continually seeking new ways to build their competitive advantage. To help them reach this goal, in January, Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, launched The pARTnership Movement, a new initiative designed to create mutually beneficial partnerships between arts and business institutions.


Read the entire op-ed in The Des Moines Register.


Jaume Plensa (Spanish, born 1955)

Nomade, 2007

Painted stainless steel

324 x 204 x 216 inches

Promised gift from John and Mary Pappajohn to the Des Moines Art Center

Photography © Cameron Campbell


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