Arts and business news from around the country.


A Theatre Company in Good Company

Posted by Danielle Iwata
A Theatre Company in Good Company

Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company


The Tony Award-winning director founded the eponymous organization in 2002 with a mission “to celebrate the rich tradition of black storytelling while giving voice to bold new artists of all cultures.” Since its founding, the theatre company has not only produced remarkable shows, but it has become an integral part of Atlanta’s community. True Colors has partnered with businesses throughout the city, including past BCA 10 honoree Turner Broadcasting, Coca-Cola, and State Farm.


Turner Broadcasting Systems

Turner Broadcasting has been a sponsor of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company since 2007. Through the Turner Voices Program, that “strategically invests in community arts and culture and youth development,” the company has become a vital part in “developing a pipeline of future storytellers and talent.”


Turner’s engagement with True Colors Theatre Company extends far beyond one hallmark program.  Three Turner employees sit on the Board of Directors, including the Board President. These connections inspire deeper involvement within the arts and the community. In addition to board leadership, the company promotes performances to their employee base through digital e-boards and a corporate responsibility newsletter, who then receive discounts to shows. True Colors even produces programming specifically for Turner Broadcasting: for one performance each season, they can invite up to 300 employees to attend a dress rehearsal. This is not only a way for the company to show gratitude to its staff by providing an opportunity to attend the rehearsal, but it helps promote the performance by word of mouth. Employees who see the show in previews spread the word among the office and the community.


The theatre company also partners with Business Resource Groups (BRG), particularly with Black Professionals at Turner (BP@T) to bring together local actors and directors with Turner Broadcasting Systems employees. By exposing the Turner creative teams to other creatives in the community, everyone can learn from each other’s experiences.


With an abundance of opportunities for the Atlanta staff to interact with artists, employees in the New York City office wanted a piece of the fun. This past spring, Kenny Leon directed the revival of Children of a Lesser God, which ran at Studio 54 from March-May 2018. Leon hosted a lunch and learn for the New York City Office, an exciting opportunity for employees to meet a Tony Award-winning director and a chance for Leon to spread the word about the production.


Turner Broadcasting Systems will receive the Abundance Award at True Colors Applauds Awards Brunch in 2019, given to a corporation for its outstanding support of the arts community.


Corporate BRGs

True Colors has also partnered with other companies like Coca-Cola to celebrate Black History Month. It presented a scene from August Wilson’s King Hedley II to the African American Resource Group at a gathering with foods celebrating the African American experience.


Jamil Jude, Associate Artistic Director, introducing the cast of King Hedley II at Coca-Cola. Photo by LaTeshia Ellerson, courtesy Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company


Community Engagement

Though not a sponsor, State Farm has been active in ensuring their employees are engaged in the local community. Director of Education, Nikki Toombs, will be directing a montage performance featuring some of our students from the August Wilson Monologue Competition. There will be singing, monologues and movement in the montage.


Main photo: Nina Simone: Four Women by Christiana Ham & Directed by Michele Shay. L-R: Wendy Fox Williams, Regina Marie Williams, Adrienne Reynolds, and Jordan Frazier. Photo by Greg Mooney, courtesy Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre


BCA 10 Spotlight: Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, Georgia

Posted by Mariama Holman
BCA 10 Spotlight: Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, Georgia

Turner Voices, our company’s signature corporate philanthropy program, marries our deep ties to our Atlanta hometown with our commitment to next-generation storytellers and their power to impact our community in profoundly positive ways.”

-Phil Kent, CEO and Chairman, Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc.


Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. believes that a community filled with the arts fosters creativity in the workplace and drives business. With creativity and innovation at the forefront of the company’s focus, Turner Broadcasting makes the arts a top priority. The company is working to make Atlanta, home to Turner Broadcasting headquarters, a creative city by supporting a wide range of nonprofit organizations that involve emerging works, artists, and programming. The company received a 2013 BCA 10 Award, nominated by the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.


Dedicating 50% of its philanthropic support to the arts, Turner Broadcasting has made more than $25 million in financial contributions over the last 19 years, and regularly gives back through volunteerism, in-kind gifts, and promotions.  Recognizing the skills of its employees as major assets for both the company and the community, Turner Broadcasting strategically utilizes its personnel to work with area arts organizations with the goal of creating change and making a difference. As an example, Turner Studios has partnered with arts organizations to create public service announcements, helping with fundraising and promotions on local television networks. Turner also promotes its nonprofit partner organizations’ upcoming shows and offers discounts to its thousands of employees.


Turner Broadcasting invests significant time, effort, and resources to help employees interact with the arts. The company consistently brings the arts to its main campus for employees’ enjoyment.  Turner has hosted performances from the Atlanta Symphony, guest speakers from the “Atlanta Celebrates Photography” exhibit, and an annual holiday performance by local theatre groups.  Turner also holds employee events and outings at area arts organizations and uses artwork from VSA Arts of Georgia to line the hallways of its headquarters. For the past four years, Turner has held a holiday art fair for VSA Arts, selling artwork from disabled or economically disadvantaged artists. The company has also contracted with arts organizations for skills-based trainings that improve team building and creativity among employees.


Volunteerism is a large focus in the Turner Broadcasting culture. Each employee receives 40 hours paid time off annually to volunteer. The company actively seeks volunteer opportunities with its arts partners, promoting them to employees through daily e-mails. Through a board placement program, the company offers training in nonprofit board service and matches each participant with an area organization. Once an employee has given 30 hours of volunteer service to an arts organization, Turner will provide up to $500 from its Volunteer Grants Program. The company also has a Matching Grants Program, matching each employee’s contribution to arts organizations and other qualified nonprofits.


Turner creates true partnerships with arts organizations, meeting with them regularly to review the most strategic ways in which they can help each other. The company is proactive in supporting and creating arts-related activities and focuses a great deal on innovation, experimental art and programs that help area youth.


Photo: Students from Atlanta Public Schools enjoying the Turner-supported City of Atlanta’s Cultural Experience Project


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


Art at the Office: How Theater Companies are Transforming the Workforce

Posted by Jessica Gaines

*Madison Cario, Georgia Tech’s Office of the Arts director, was walking across campus in the Spring of 2015 when she passed a career fair in progress.


After noticing how uncomfortable the students looked in their business suits and corporate attire, Cario’s mind flashed to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The 40-year-old, all-male, contemporary ballet company — featuring men wearing makeup, tutus and wigs while dancing on pointe — was scheduled to perform at the Ferst Center in the coming weeks.


Who better, thought Cario, than performers who’d perfected the art of drag to teach millennials how to transition from uniforms of hoodies and flip-flops into young professionals whose wardrobes reflected their career aspirations.


One year later, a half-day seminar titled Drag 101 was offered in anticipation of Tech’s next career day. Brooklyn-based drag king Goldie Peacock, who has been performing and teaching the fundamentals of “power posing” for over a decade, was invited to lead the workshop.


GA Tech’s

Madison Cario

(Image courtesy

of GA Tech)

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Goldie Peacock


“As with any performer,” says Cario, “students [preparing for job interviews] are not just putting on a suit. They have to put on a persona and adopt a personality. They must embody the confidence and poise needed to take up space in a room, and engage in conversation.”


The practice of nonartists turning to actors for guidance on how to adapt to unfamiliar situations and settings is not unprecedented.


The late-Margaret Thatcher worked with a tutor at London’s National Theatre to help lower the pitch of her voice after she decided to run for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. By sounding more authoritative, she hoped to silence opponents who said, “Methinks the lady doth screech too much,” in response to the high, shrill tone that resulted whenever nervous energy strangled her vocal chords. Given the cognitive and emotional effects the voice has on listeners, and Thatcher’s subsequent victory at the polls, it can be argued that her lessons paid off.


The Alliance Theatre has institutionalized a program that teaches business clients how to apply the methodologies and mechanics of the theater to help improve presentation skills in corporate settings. The workshops, called Alliance@Work, are a natural evolution of the Alliance Arts for Learning Institute — a 20-year-old initiative designed to teach theater skills to general classroom educators to help engage students.


“The same skills that make for great acting also make for great presentations,” says Christopher Moses, the Dan Reardon director of education and associate artistic director of the Alliance’s education department. “People crave authenticity and connection, whether you are sitting around a boardroom table or auditioning as an actor. In order to connect with an audience, you must be yourself.”


Of course, being oneself does not come naturally once most people are out of their comfort zone. Stressors like having to impress the boss, making a sales pitch to a reluctant (if not hostile) audience or being required to address large gatherings only add to the tension.


“Most people would rather have [a] root canal than speak publicly, and most actors feel the same way,” says Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, an Alliance@Work coach and professional actress (Disgraced and Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Alliance, and HBO’s The Immortal Life of Henrrietta Lacks). “As kids, we’re fine speaking up without inhibition. But as society starts putting constraints on how we should look and behave, we will go to any length to avoid feeling vulnerable. We would rather have something unpleasant inflicted on us than be judged for making a mistake in public.”


Increasingly, corporations are placing a premium on hiring candidates who are better equipped as communicators, storytellers and collaborators. In other words, people with a high emotional intelligence quotient.


“The skills, which are pejoratively called ‘soft skills,’ are not taught on the job or at university,” says J. Noble, cofounder of Alliance@Work and communications specialist at the Alliance’s education department. “Some people are naturally inclined to be present, empathetic and self-aware, but the majority of us aren’t as much as we should be. And we’re not given opportunities to explore, rehearse and refine those characteristics.”


Borrowing from the actor’s tool box, accountants, scientists and bankers who enroll in classes can learn how to eliminate stage fright by taking deep, controlled breaths. They are encouraged to be mindful of body language, which can convey passivity and anxiety, or project self-confidence and what’s known as “executive presence.” Simulated group exercises help to highlight the unconscious, default setting participants tend to fall into when collaborating with others.


Atlanta-based companies including Chick-fil-A, Home Depot and TalentQuest have ongoing relationships with Alliance@Work — as do national clients like Adobe and Grant Thornton, a global public accounting and advisor services firm based in Chicago which has sent over 1,000 employees to participate in workshops since 2014.


“Soft skills can be the hardest to adapt and master, but they can be a game-changer,” says Julian Malnak, director of Leadership & Talent Management at Grant Thornton. “It used to be all about technical knowledge and prowess in our industry. But what matters is how people show up, their distinctive brand, and how they carry our culture.”


“People just want to see the truth,” says Kajese-Bolden. “Despite the onslaught of reality TV and social media profiles [which tend to be more grounded in fiction than fact], people can see past anything that is false, fake or put on.”


For Noble, a former director, mining the principles of authenticity, empathy and connection as an Alliance@Work coach is indistinguishable from his work with actors. “In both cases, the work is transformational,” he says. “I feel like I’m fulfilling the Alliance’s mission of expanding the hearts and minds of people on and off the stage — giving them new ways to think [thereby] making their lives, and the lives of their team’s and family’s, better in the process.”


*This article, written by Gail O’Neill, originally appeared on ArtsATL. Link to the original article is here and appears with permission from Executive Editor Laura Relyea.


Coca-Cola’s Refreshing Style

Posted by Jessica Gaines



We all know the Coca-Cola Company for its many beverage products, catchy commercial jingles, and unmatched red and white logo. It’s no surprise that a company with such global staying power and industry prominence would look to elements and influences of art.


Here are just a few ways Coca-Cola keeps their business refreshing and top-of-mind:


The #TrayArtProject

Together with 12 artists from around the world, Delta and Coca-Cola have created an art gallery in the sky – transforming the tray tables on one of the airline’s 767 aircraft into one-of-a-kind works of art.


Each artist brought their own personal style and taste to their trays and drew inspiration from some of the airline’s most popular destinations, including: Amsterdam, Atlanta, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City, Paris, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. Each piece of art celebrates themes of optimism, travel, refreshment and happiness. 



Post-Pop Artist Burton Morris brings the iconic bottle to life

In his ongoing search for objects with cultural significance, Burton Morris saw Coca-Cola as a natural subject. A lifelong fan of both the Coca-Cola beverage and brand, he was always enamored by its visual identity. “I loved the bottle design… the red and the white, and the shape itself,” he explains. “It just has such a classic feeling… the bottle and topography themselves are art. As an artist, when I look at it, dozens of ideas run through my mind.”


In 2015, to honor the 100th anniversary of the Coca-Cola bottle, Morris channeled those ideas onto his art by creating 100 unique renderings of the iconic package for display in a gallery show and a traveling exhibition that went around the world.



In-House Art Curator

Caitlin, the company’s Brand and Fine Art Manager has a pretty cool job. She manages their corporate fine art collection and determines what pieces are placed on their walls. “So here at The Coca-Cola Company we want our associates to know that you are in a unique place. And you’re in a place that really values your presence every day. We want to express that through art installation.”


Photo: Coca-Cola


Already a partner?

Already a partner?

Learn easy ways to take your partnership to a new level.

Use our ads locally

Use our ads locally

View The pARTnership Movement ad campaign and find ways to use the ads.

pARTnership videos

pARTnership videos

Watch and share our videos from The pARTnership Movement.

Partnership ideas

Partnership ideas

Inspire employees with tickets to the ballet or a concert.

Are you an arts group?

Are you an arts group?

Get listed in our searchable directory.

Recruit talent

Recruit talent

Employees want to live and work in a vibrant community.