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Engaging Employees Through the Arts is Good Business

Posted by Jordan Shue
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Engaging Employees Through the Arts is Good Business

Americans for the Arts knows that engaging business employees through volunteerism and the arts is key to fostering a desirable work environment, increasing efficiency and morale, and doing good in the community. For arts groups seeking to build deeper ties with the business community, offering to address the need to engage employees in their work can serve as a powerful tool and argument for why supporting the arts is a win-win for everyonethe company, its employees, your organization, and the entire community.

 

Americans for the Arts is thrilled to announce the release of the first three workbooks in a series dedicated to helping nonprofits start arts-based employee volunteer and engagement programs, including:

 

1.       The Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville’s WorkCreative, an arts-based training program that brings arts into the workplace by engaging employees in hands-on creativity to stimulate communication, build teamwork, and spark innovation for effective business growth.

2.       ArtsWave’s CincySings, a corporate arts challenge that brings arts into the workplace by creating a friendly, amateur singing competition featuring choirs of Cincinnati-based company employees.

3.       Americans for the Arts Business Volunteers for the Arts®program, a pro bono consulting program for arts organizations that operates in several cities around the United States.

 

If you’re trying to make the case to businesses in your area that using the arts can engage their employees, check out our one-pager advocacy tools, Six Ways to Use the Arts to Boost Employee Engagement and The Arts Boost Employee Engagement. Learn from practitioners who’ve taken the plunge, and work with us or on your own to do the same in your communities! Learn more.

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Arts at Work

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Arts at Work

The Washington Post recently reported on a new study by researchers at Harvard and Stanford that ‘connects unhealthy workplaces with national inequality,’ quantifying how many years your stressful workplace may be shaving off your life. “But your job doesn’t need to be like this, and nor should it,” says Grant Hall, Founder of League Cultural Diplomacy.

 

In a blog post on WhereWordsFailBlog.com, Hall explores the mental health benefits of art and how corporations can benefit from making the arts an integral part of their work.“Properly designed and implemented, it will enhance brand image, help build relationships abroad or across cultures, create the desired corporate culture, inspire innovation and creativity, reduce staff turnover and absenteeism, improve the health and safety record of the workplace and help meet CSR targets,” he says.

 

Hall also provides suggestions for how corporations can encourage employees to engage in healthy arts and cultural activities, including financially supporting employees’ arts activities, displaying employee artwork, or starting a workplace choir.

 

Read the full blog post here, and learn more about bringing the arts into the workplace.

 

Photo: Aetna's employee jazz band.

 

How do the arts help your employees? Tell us on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us at partnership@artsusa.org.

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What’s Trending: Attracting & Engaging Creative Talent with Art in the Workplace

Posted by Kate Reese
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What’s Trending: Attracting & Engaging Creative Talent with Art in the Workplace

 

According to an article published by Fast Company, some of America’s most desirable companies for prospective employees share a creative culture enhanced by art as a common dominator. This culture attracts creative candidates who help the companies remain innovative. Facebook, IDEO, and Virgin America, for example, boast inspiring workspaces and provide activities that build community among employees and encourage fresh perspectives.

 

At IDEO, a design and consulting firm, employees encounter multiple personal projects lining the hallways, from a mural of Instagram photos to a mystery project in the making comprised of discarded items donated from staff. IDEO is “intentionally creating moments—spaces, walls to draw on, the piano, culture-building events—to [help employees] bring their whole selves to the workplace," says managing director Clark Scheffy. This sentiment is articulated in the company’s “Little Book of Ideo,” which illustrates the company’s cultural values.

 

Virgin America’s office and terminals are consistent with the company’s popular “party” brand—guests and employees are greeted with rock music and freshly cut flowers.

 

Facebook’s sparse office workspace is punctuated by larger than life art installations and murals created by rotating artists-in-residence. According to Drew Bennet who runs the program, “it’s allowing the community that is already engaged in so much creativity to have a reference, a backdrop of their reality, in a more tactile way." The company also offers employees the chance to participate in workshops for learning hands-on artistic endeavors, such as print making and wood working. By facilitating these classes, Facebook develops workplace skills that go beyond the computer screen.

 

"When I see designers pushing their personal edges, I get extremely excited," says Scheffy. "Of course, it's terrifying as well, and I prefer for it to happen at the beginning of a project when working with a client so we can recover and redirect if we need. But I constantly seek that magic space where we are challenged and pushing our limits. That's where the best work happens."

 

Photo: IDEO's Chicago office.

 

Learn more about art in the workplace.

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Bank of America Creates Treasure from Trash

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Bank of America Creates Treasure from Trash

As a part of Bank of America’s Recycle Now campaign, a new global engagement initiative that uses art to educate and inspire Bank of America’s employees to recycle at work, the company recently partnered with chashama, a New York City nonprofit organization that works with property owners to activate unused real estate into space for artists, performers, youth, and community groups.

 

On Earth Day this past April, Bank of America and chashama showcased chandeliers made of recyclables that were found in the trash cans around Bank of America’s office at One Bryant Park. chashama artsist, Christopher Trujillo used paper, plastic bottles, and food containers in his creation of the pieces to inspire employees to recycle and reduce waste. 10 young members of The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem were also involved in the creative process, working on their own chandelier to add to the installation. The project is part of a six-week Recycle Now sculpture challenge taking place in several Bank of America offices throughout the United States and in London.

Along with Bank of America’s dedication to the arts and green initiatives, The Durst Organization, which owns One Bryant Park, often offers up its space for chashama events, performances, and workshops.

 

Through the partnership, Bank of America capitalized on creativity and unique messaging to communicate business goals while also engaging their employees with an inspirational arts-in-the-workplace campaign. Bank of America is a 2012 BCA: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts honoree.

 

Read more about the installation and collaboration on chashama’s website.

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Classical Ballet is Coming to Your Workplace

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Classical Ballet is Coming to Your Workplace

Classical ballet is coming to your workplace,” says ballerina Karis Scarlette, founder of En Avant Ballet, in a recent blog post for the Guardian. For employees seated at a computer all day, “ballet’s continual movement patterns provide a graceful, lengthening fluidity that allows even the most inactive of office workers to stretch their stiff bodies and evaluate their posture.” Ballet can even help improve memory, improve focus, and reduce stress.

 

That’s why many companies, including online retailer ASOS, have recently added ballet classes to the benefits available to their employees. “I’ve taught everyone from CEOs and lawyers to designers, secretaries and journalists,” says Scarlette. “While each job role is different, what ballet offers them is universally beneficial.”

 

Read more from Karis Scarlette about the benefits of ballet in the workplace.

 

Photograph © Quinn Dombrowski

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JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts Brings More Poise and Grace to its Business

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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Poise, grace, posture, and confidence are some of the many exceptional attributes of ballet dancers. JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts also sees these as important qualities its associates need to deliver a superior level of service to its guests.

 

JW Marriott is taking the service culture to a new level with the launch of “Poise and Grace,” a series of video training tutorials led by Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet.

 

“At JW Marriott, we look to identify associates that live the brand vision of orchestrating the exceptional, crafting luxurious experiences for guests that are inspired by their passions,” said Mitzi Gaskins, Vice President and Global Brand Manager of JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts.  “Poise and posture are globally recognized cultural cues that reflect the care and dedication our associates provide in every service interaction.”

 

The inspirational videos are typically shown to associates during the daily team meeting. The videos focus on the importance of warming up, breathing techniques, movement flow and connecting with audiences. While hotel guests do not see the videos, they experience the impact: confident, poised associates with strong first impressions and meaningful connections.

 

“We are proud to partner with JW Marriott on the Poise and Grace video training series,” said Wheater. “Ballet technique breeds discipline, self-confidence and a genuine interaction between people. Dancers epitomize poise and grace, and this program is a wonderful way to both celebrate our brand partnership and enhance the JW Marriott guest experience.”

 

  

 

Photo: courtesy of JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts.

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Facebook Gives Artists a Thumbs Up

Posted by Kellyn Lopes & Patrick O'Herron
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Facebook has long been praised for its exemplary “hacker culture” and drive for innovation in the tech sector, but did you know that corporate artworks also shape the company’s attitudes and brands?  A recent look at the murals in Facebook’s Menlo Park, CA campus and many offices show how the arts work to inspire employees and enhance the corporate culture. Many graffiti artists, painters, sculptors and designers have left their mark on the office spaces. (Photo credit: Brand new whimsical sculpture by Thomas Wold being installed; courtesy of ArtBusiness.com.)

 

Facebook has an active Artist-in-Residence program. Artist Drew Bennett, curator of the program who spent a residency at Facebook, says, “It’s a visual and a physical manifestation of what’s happening on the computers. You could just present your values on a piece of paper. But inviting a diverse group of independent artists to work alongside us is a more genuine expression of that creative process.”

 

The mission of Facebook's Artist-in-Residence program is to create a corporate environment rich in art, and more specifically, rich in a way that positively impacts the work experience. The company views a workplace filled with art and access to artists as a positive, value-add for employees.


Through the Artist-in-Residence program, artists are hired and treated much like other Facebook employees. Resdencies range between four and sixteen weeks, providing the artists freedom to build and paint what they wish.

 

At Facebook's headquarters, art is installed in reception areas, hallways, stairwells, on the surfaces of floors, hanging from ceilings, and even some of the furnishings and decorations have been made by artists. Employees are continually exposed to new works and outlets for inspiration and creativity. (Photo credit: Light well paper installation by Val Britton; courtesy of ArtBusiness.com.)

 

As the Facebook Artist-in-Residence program grows and evolves, the company hopes to see whether an art dense environment can create measurable benefits for everyone involved, both artists and employees. So far, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.

 

Find more information and see more visuals from Facebook's Artist-in-Residence program at the following links:

 


 

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Arts & Business Partnerships Beyond Mere Aesthetics

Posted by Scotland Davis
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When I was asked—strike that—begged, to sit on our in-house committee to renovate our offices, it was explained that someone was needed to bring my department’s voice to the designing table. And knowing to play to my vanity, I was told, “Your artistic eye is sorely needed.” Yet even so, I reluctantly agreed. “Besides,” it was confidentially promised, “the weekly meetings would only last for about six months.” That was 19 months ago…

 

Once on the committee, I was assigned to the subcommittee affectionately called, “Look & Feel.”  Then, while on this subcommittee, I was volunteered to a yet smaller sub-subcommittee called simply, “Artwork.” Including myself, this sub-subcommittee numbered one! So I in turn volunteered two others to help me out.

 

We were asked to, “Put some art on the walls…” The request was later improved upon: “Some original art work…Not too expensive.”

 

I knew enough to ask the obvious question, “What’s the budget?” The answer: “Present us with some figures.” Okay, I could do that.

 

In fact, I was surprised with how many artists and gallery owners I knew. Pieces started in the low hundreds and went into the six figures. I felt pleased my work was completed so early and speedily. Little would I realize that when I turned these figures over to the larger committee, you would hear crickets in the room. I was thanked for my efforts and invited to try again.

 

That’s when I thought of the Art Students League (ASL). I was very familiar with the League. I am a self-taught representational artist and as early as six years ago, I was told to take classes there to broaden my scope and introduce myself to the community. However, the class I wanted didn’t fit into my schedule. So, with a goal of finding original art on a lean to bony budget, and no idea whether such a program existed or not, I called up ASL. 

 

The saying goes that beauty is in the eye of the holder. That idea is taking on new meaning in corporate settings all over Manhattan. Beauty is now literally at the tip of one’s nose.

 

Thanks to ASL’s Exhibition Outreach Program (EOP), many corporations have introduced artwork into their workplace. Since its inception in 2006, EOP provides emerging artists experience entering their work in competition, preparing for public display, and marketing their art for sale to welcoming audiences.

 

Led by former League student and curator Leah McCloskey, this nonprofit program began seven years ago when the League’s executive director was walking through a midtown office building lobby where its art collection was displayed. He asked the company if they would welcome young artists to show their art there as well. The company agreed. From there, the idea caught fire. And since that time until today the League has not had to advertise its program, which EOP director McCloskey says, laughingly, is terrifically busy despite.

 

I asked McCloskey to help me better understand the significance of the art and business partnership, because it is more than mere aesthetics. As it was explained, the program in a business setting creates a more formal interaction between artist and the people in that space.

 

Hosting companies enable artists to meet and interact with company employees at an open house held very soon after the installation of artwork. These “meet & greets” break barriers between the art, the artist and the viewing audience. We have to remember this may be the first time some staff members meet a recognized artist.

 

Currently there are some 27 pieces ranging in size throughout the house, representing six artists. This is done so that as the visitor moves within the office, they will get a sense that moods are changing as a result of the art. This mood change is not so drastic that the overall appearance is cacophonous or strident. Each artist’s work relates within the whole of the series by that artist, which ASL selected, and this selection works within the overall schemata of the other artists. And yes, when we sat down with the League the very first thing they asked was what experience did we want the visitor to come away with from their visit to our offices? We set suggestions for what we wanted our new office space to inspire, not simply for visitors, but especially for the staff who will live among the art. And the result has been overwhelmingly successful.

 

I have been approached by some who have said what a wonderful difference the art makes in the space. I’ve received passing congratulations for brightening up the workplace. I’ve heard compliments from colleagues with a marked artistic flair. I’ve heard from those whom I’ve never interacted what a thrilling space we now work in and from those for whom I would have sworn their closest rapport with art was on a beer bottle label saying, “Great job!”

 

The art will rotate out at a set time. For us, the art will be replaced by new works on a six-month basis, unless there are pieces that staff become especially fond.

Some artists represented in our space are novices, some are currently receiving notoriety, some are veterans. Remember, ASL has been around for over 130 years. It is an atelier emphasizing the importance of artistic creativity, education, and exploration, where anyone who wishes to pursue an art education is welcome.

 

As a result, many famous artists who have shaped the vocabulary of the art worldwide have been instructors, lecturers, and students. Included in that group are Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Romare Bearden, Roy Lichtenstein, and Cy Twombly. Thus on a daily basis, my colleagues are immersed in a realm where around almost every corner they may come upon a soon-to-be luminary of contemporary art.

The League’s EOP program is always looking for new sites to host exhibitions. Other EOP partners and exhibition spaces include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Grace Institute, Ogilvy & Mather, and the Manhattan Borough President’s office.

 

To date the program has placed works by some 500 artists in some 75 exhibitions, increasing exposure and appreciation for art among the general public.

 

Increasing still further the chance that beauty will be in the eye of many more enthralled beholders.

 

This article was originally posted on ArtsBlog.

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Artists in the Next Cubicle Strengthen the Economy

Posted by Pam RuBert
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When Alexander Gottman’s co-workers peer into his cubicle, they don’t see family or vacation photos. They see original art.

 

Gottman works in the information technology department of Guaranty Bank, accessing potential risk for electronic bank transfers for business clients and monitoring the safety of their accounts.

 

Locally owned Guaranty Bank is committed to encouraging employee personal development and community involvement. The bank sponsored a Creamery Arts Center exhibition in June, and Guaranty Bank Marketing Director Carlye Wannenmacher suggested Gottman enter the show.

 

It’s not uncommon for Springfield businesses such as Guaranty Bank to employ working artists. Our community offers many outlets for creative expression, if not as many opportunities to make a full-time living in the arts.

 

The creativity and diversity that artists bring to their workplaces constitute strengths for our social capital networks described recently by Mayor Bob Stephens. He participated recently on a Huffington Post online panel, alongside luminaries from the Knight Foundation, that discussed the impact of nonprofits, volunteerism and civic involvement on unemployment rates.

 

Representing Springfield with an unemployement rate 2 percent below the national average, Stephens talked about Missouri State University’s recent report called Social Capital and Civic Participation in the Ozarks.

 

“Social capital” refers to social networks built when members of a community trust each other. These networks provide access to information and resources and avenues for citizen input into community affairs. People who have multiple social connections tend to create stronger communities than those with singular connections.

 

Much of Springfield’s strength today comes from the “bonding capital” of associations of culturally similar people. The study recommends greater “bridging capital” for stronger multiplex networks to deter brain drain that could weaken future economic development. In fact, nearly 82 percent of the study’s respondents ages 18 to 34 agreed or strongly agreed that “living in a diverse community is important to me.”

 

Gottman could have been an example of local brain drain, but he has found creative outlets for his art work to supplement his banking career. He grew up surrounded by art created by his father, a painter and high school art teacher. At MSU, he took a few drawing classes before focusing his degree on business management with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.

 

He also continued for 10 years to hone his drawing skills by joining a weekly group of artists organized by Alisha and Jeff Brundege to practice and share skills.

 

Gottman hopes to return to school for a master’s in business administration or an advanced degree in technology. He also wants to eventually find other groups to share and inspire his art as the Brundege group once did.

 

Leah Hamilton is another home-grown professional who balances roles in business and arts. After earning a graduate degree at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, she considered moving again for arts administration graduate studies. Instead, she is able to satisfy her professional goals as the executive director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council.

 

Weekdays, you’ll likely find her talking policy and budgets in a room full of suits. Weekend nights, you may have seen her on the Gillioz Theatre stage performing “Carmen” with the Springfield Regional Opera Lyric Theatre, or as the high-strung Joanne in “Rent” at Springfield Little Theatre.

 

Activity in multiple social networks develops social skills. It also commands respect, as confirmed by Hamilton’s selection this year as one of Springfield Business Journal’s 20 Most Influential Women.

 

The next time one of your co-workers heads out after work for an audition, local concert or other art event, why not tag along or support their performance?

 

You may find in yourself a hidden talent, a new passion or expanding your social network. You’ll also be helping make Springfield a more socially diverse and economically strong community.

 

*Originally posted on ARTSblog and Springfield Business Journal.

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