"Even as AutoZone has evolved over the last 36 years, we’ve maintained a steadfast commitment to our hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Leadership and active participation in our region’s arts and culture are essential to community engagement and growth. In partnership with ArtsMemphis, ArtsZone provides funding for dozens of emerging and established arts initiatives and events; youth outreach and mentoring programs for underserved youth; accessible, community-building endeavors; and minority arts growth."
–Bill Rhodes, Chairman, President, and CEO, Customer Satisfaction, AutoZone, Inc.
AutoZone, Inc., the leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories in the United States, views a thriving arts community as a key component to creating and sustaining an economically strong, authentic, and dynamic community. The company supports arts and culture initiatives through unique funding programs, civic leadership, and employee engagement.
In AutoZone’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, the company provides annual funding to ArtsMemphis, a United Arts Fund, and dozens of local arts and culture organizations through a grant program called ArtsZone. The program, which is administered by ArtsMemphis, helps support emerging arts programs and events, including Indie Memphis Film Festival; outreach and mentoring programs for underserved youth, including the New Ballet Ensemble; accessible, community-building endeavors, including the Levitt Shell Music Series; and minority arts growth, including the Hattiloo Theatre. In 2014, AutoZone distributed more than $400,000 in funding to local arts groups. Memphis-based AutoZone employees are also encouraged to donate to ArtsMemphis through a payroll deduction program, which matches 100 percent of donations dollar-for-dollar.
In 2004, AutoZone founder J.R. “Pitt” Hyde III and former AutoZone CEO Steve Odland spearheaded ArtsMemphis’s ambitious endowment campaign, Memphis for the Arts (MFTA). AutoZone made the lead gift and encouraged other businesses to get involved. MFTA generated more than $27.2 million and enhanced the profile of the Memphis arts community.
Additionally, in 2001 AutoZone donated 226 works collected by J.R. “Pitt” Hyde III to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The AutoZone Collection offers a selection of artists and artisans from the Mid-South.
AutoZone’s creative partnership with the arts is also evidenced by its affiliation with Opera Memphis. The company supports Opera Memphis’ 30 Days of Opera, a public-outreach initiative that aims to integrate opera into everyday life. Since its launch in 2012, 30 Days of Opera has reached more than 50,000 people at more than 80 locations in the Greater Memphis region. In both 2013 and 2014, AutoZone commissioned Opera Memphis to create two iterations of ‘AutoZone: The Opera,' for the company’s national conference. The opera featured a cast of characters lamenting their car problems to an AutoZone customer service representative. By partnering with the arts, AutoZone reinforced the strong corporate culture and commitment to customer satisfaction in a creative and memorable way.
Photo: Opera Memphis performs at the 2014 AutoZone National Sales Meeting