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Giving in Numbers: A Preview of the 2015 Engagement Survey

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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CECP, in association with The Conference Board, has released a brief of the 2015 Giving in Numbers, the most complete annual survey of corporate societal engagement. The full results will be released in autumn 2015 and will reflect responses from 271 multi-billion dollar companies with aggregate revenues of US $8.3 trillion.

 

The brief indicates that companies are increasingly seeing community investment as essential to their operations, and many companies are choosing to involve employees in their social engagement plans. For example, the survey found:

 

  • corporate matches of employee donations accounted for 12% of total corporate cash contributions.
  •  9 out of 10 companies offered an employee matching program.
  •  6 out of 10 companies offered paid-release time volunteer programs.
  • 30% of employees volunteering is average.
  • 50% of employees volunteering is the minimum to be in the top quartile.

 

You can find more statistics from the Giving in Numbers Brief here.

 

Does your company involve employees in your engagement with the arts? Tell us about it using #ArtsandBiz on Twitter or email pARTnership@artsusa.org.

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It's Pro Bono Day in New York: Give Back Your Time and Talent!

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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It's Pro Bono Day in New York: Give Back Your Time and Talent!

Business professionals seeking to give their time and skill set to organizations in need will come together today for Pro Bono Day in New York City--a daylong series of workshops and networking events revolving around skills-based volunteering opportunities, organized by the Taproot Foundation.

 

Many organizations that work to tackle social issues often have limited access to the marketing, design, technology, management or strategic planning resources they need to succeed. Pro bono opportunities allow business professionals to share their talents with the causes that are near and dear to them. The Taproot Foundation has partnered with the CECP to create industry standards and benchmarking for pro bono service. 30% of companies now report that they offer pro bono opportunities to employees.

 

Pro Bono Day is actually a week-long celebration, with events also happening in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Today in New York, the Arts & Business Council of New York has organized a panel discussion with speakers from arts organizations who will share their personal experiences with pro bono volunteers--how they developed and managed impactful projects and maintained lasting relationships.

 

Ready to get involved? Learn more about Americans for the Arts' leading pro bono program, Business Volunteers for the Arts® (BVA), which matches mid- to upper-level business professionals as pro bono consultants with arts organizations.

 

For more information on Pro Bono Day, including the Pro Bono Blog, visit TaprootFoundation.org.

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Business Giving is on the Rise, According to Giving in Numbers: 2014 Edition

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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CECP, in association with The Conference Board, has recently released Giving in Numbers: 2014 Edition, the leading annual analysis of corporate giving and employee engagement patterns.

What are the new trends in corporate giving? 

 

  • Giving increased for 64% of companies since the end of the Great Recession (from 2010 to 2013), but growth has slowed in recent years, exhibiting the smallest marginal increases in giving in 2013.
  • The most generous companies, those in the top 25% or top quartile of giving, gave a minimum of $53.8 million, or 1.95% of Pre-Tax Profits, in 2013.
  • Companies that increased giving since 2010 also improved business performance in that same time frame; companies that increased giving by more than 10% since 2010 also increased median revenues by 11% from 2010 to 2013. 
  • Non-cash giving increased in recent years, driven in part by expansion of Pro Bono Service programs; 34% of companies offered a domestic Pro Bono Service program in 2010, compared to 50% in 2013, with every industry represented in the study for the first time. 

 

The annual Giving in Numbers report is based on data drawn from the Giving in Numbers Survey, a peer benchmarking tool for corporate giving professionals. This year’s report is based on data from 261 companies, including 62 of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune 500.

To help celebrate Pro Bono Week (10/19-10/25) and to learn more about the practice, of which Giving in Numbers addresses on page 25, please also see Taproot Foundation’s new report, Key Trends to Watch: The Next Wave of Growth in Corporate Pro Bono Service.

 

For more information on the motivations behind business giving to the arts, download the BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts.

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INFOGRAPHIC: CECP Shows Corporate Societal Engagement is a Sound Business Strategy

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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CECP has released the inaugural Giving in Numbers Brief, drawn from company-reported data to the Giving in Numbers Survey, conducted in association with The Conference Board, which presents an annual profile of corporate philanthropy. See the infographic below, and visit CECP for more information on Giving in Numbers.

 

CECP infographic

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Business Support for the Arts

Posted by Lane Harwell
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It is not coincidental that New York is a business and cultural capital; business and the arts are one. Arts and culture improve livability, drive tourism and economic development, and make the city desirable for businesses and their employees. Robust and strategic corporate giving is critical to realizing these and more deliverables.

 

To better understand and to advocate for corporate giving, the organization I run, Dance/NYC, has produced its first-ever corporate giving snapshot, which is based on the New York State Cultural Data Project (CDP) and an extension of our recent State of NYC Dance (2013).

 

The snapshot is, in part, a response to the Wall Street Journal headline “Corporate Support for Dance Wanes,” sparked by our first CDP report released in 2011. It is also a response to more recent studies by the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA) and by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, which suggest the opposite; in fact, based on their sources, corporate giving may be up.

 

Dance/NYC’s new CDP findings reveal an uneven patchwork of growth and decline in corporate giving to dance makers in the five boroughs at the core of our analysis. The amount received “in donations from corporations, including grants, funds and matching gifts” (source: CDP) grew 7.7 percent in the aggregate from 2009 to 2011. Corporate donations benefit dance makers of all budget sizes, and equal 5.1 percent of their total private contributions.

 

The welcome story of growth over time is, however, tied exclusively to giving to the largest dance makers, with budgets of more than $5M. Those with smaller budgets all reported losses, and for dance makers in the $100K-$1M range, the aggregate loss exceeded 50 percent. This variation by budget size bucks the trends found for other sources; for instance, dance makers with budgets of less than $5M report gains in public funds, and groups in nearly every budget category increased their total private contributions.

 

We are in discovery mode. The findings do not tell the full story of business support for dance in our City, which includes in-kind contributions and special events income. Readers of State of NYC Dance (2013) report will note that special event income to dance makers is up 8 percent, and in-kind contributions are of special value to the smallest groups, with budgets $25K-$99K, who are demonstrating considerable resourcefulness.

 

But the corporate giving findings are an entry point for discussion to advance the state of the field in our City. For policy makers, they may encourage new thinking about public/private partnerships and messaging to local businesses. Dance makers, I urge you to act on another opportunity identified in the BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts (2013): 96 percent of business contributions to the arts are allocated locally. Consider the Dance/NYC findings as a tool for advocacy and awareness building for your work, and as a reminder to engage local businesses and grow your corporate giving.

 

Finally, for corporate funders, the findings are an invitation not only to renew and increase your commitments to dance and culture, but also to join Dance/NYC and our constituents in an effort to better understand and meet your priorities. Together, we can – and will- do more to make the case for corporate giving.

 

(This article, originally posted on the Huffington Post, is one in a weekly serieshighlighting the pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our websiteto find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

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As Corporate Giving Bounces Back, Six Things Nonprofits Need to Know

Posted by Judy Belk
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After years of recession-battered budgets, nonprofits finally are getting good news: U.S. charitable donations appear to be rebounding. Corporate giving, in particular, increased a cumulative 14.7% since 2010, according to the Giving USA Foundation. The median of total giving by companies jumped 23% last year and is almost back to pre-recession levels.

 

Many, but not all, nonprofits are getting some lift from that rising tide. A survey by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative found that 42% of nonprofits said they received more corporate funding in 2012 than in 2011.

 

Converging trends, however, are shaping how such funds will be allocated in the future. Most notable is pressure from customers and employees for companies to become better corporate citizens. At the same time, business-oriented thinking is coming to bear on philanthropy, including “impact investment” approaches, leveraging non-cash assets, more strategic planning and a desire to align charity and corporate missions.

 

These changes are spawning new expectations for nonprofits – but also revealing new resources for them to tap. Here are six trends to understand to successfully engage corporate donors.

 

1. It’s not charity; it’s corporate strategy. Corporate philanthropy has had a reputation – sometimes deserved – of being diffuse and reactionary. Today companies are applying the same kind of strategic focus to philanthropic decisions that they do to the rest of the business. A mission statement and declaration of values, usually tied to a broader corporate social responsibility (CSR) framework, keep corporate giving on track. Executives in corporate philanthropy are becoming more proactive about advancing specific goals. Nonprofit groups that grasp and take advantage of this framework will have a head start on finding corporate partners for their work.

 

2. The ROI mindset. Multiple movements have grown up around the idea that businesses can do good while doing well, such as social entrepreneurship, impact investing and the B Corps. These, too, are influencing corporate philanthropy. The concepts of “gifts” or “grants” is being supplanted by the idea of “social investments,” and by extension, companies are beginning to apply a return on investment (ROI) mentality to their philanthropic decisions.

 

In response, nonprofits are striving to develop new metrics that spell out the “return.” It is a significant departure for some organizations to go from measuring need to measuring outputs, outcomes, and impact. But it’s an important step to take. Such reporting reassures corporate donors that their nonprofit partner knows what success looks like and how to build on it. It also helps them understand – and communicate to internal and external stakeholders- how their donations are making a difference in the world.

 

3. A respectful partnership. Let’s be honest: Nonprofit and corporate values do not always align. Even within philanthropy circles, corporate giving programs have often gotten a bum rap as little more than dressed-up marketing dollars.

 

But such philanthropic snobbery is outdated and undermines an opportunity to engage a critical sector. Today’s corporations have a genuine stake in social issues, whether it is ensuring a sustainable market for products, healthier customers, or a better community for their employees. Corporate foundations have been particularly instrumental to educational reform efforts, prompted by authentic concerns about their future workforce.

 

Given the complexity of today’s social problems, everyone – nonprofits, private philanthropists, the public sector and business leaders – needs to be contributing solutions. Nonprofits would be wise to actively draw more companies into these conversations.

 

4. The total toolbox. The most sophisticated giving programs leverage all the assets a corporation can bring to bear – not just their financial resources. We at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) enjoy working with corporate funders because they have so many tools to use: their brand and customer loyalty, their products and distribution channels, the skills and talents of employees, and the clout of senior management to raise the visibility of an issue. As corporate philanthropy programs investigate the needs of nonprofits – and nonprofits get more creative about what they ask for – even more ways to join forces will be discovered.

 

5. The employee effect. When employees arrive at the office, they don’t stop caring about their community or the world. Smartly run companies look for ways to transform that philanthropic urge into workplace engagement. Matching gift programs are the just the starting point (though the best of them match as much as $15,000 a year per person). Some leading companies use employee committees to help steer grant money. Volunteerism programs encourage donating time to community groups. Some companies even loan out expert professionals to help build some skill or capacity at a nonprofit. But here is an open secret: Such programs are often wildly underused. With care and tending, and a little bit of research on what a company offers, employees can be a direct route to the philanthropic heart of the company.

 

6. The global puzzle. How does a company give back to “its community” when it has operations in nine countries and sells in another 22?

 

In 2011, only 14% of donations targeted international programs, according to a sample of Fortune 500 companies’ giving analyzed by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. CECP also asked attendees at its annual conference whether their giving reflected their company’s global footprint. Only 27% offered an unqualified “yes.” The plurality, 36%, said “We’re not there yet but moving in that direction.”

 

In short, corporate giving departments do not need to be convinced to make international issues a priority. They do need nonprofit partners that can help them navigate this tricky terrain.

 

All of these six trends are driving innovation at both corporations and nonprofits. The office of corporate giving is no longer the sleepy, final career stop of the soon-to-retire executive but, rather, a complex and sophisticated undertaking with dynamic leaders to match. Nonprofits are similarly raising their game.

 

The donor-grantee relationship has changed for the better, too. It is now a more strategic and equitable partnership. In this era of CSR, after all, nonprofit leaders present tremendous value to the company: expertise in how to make a meaningful impact on society.

 

(This article, originally posted on the Philanthropy Journal, is one in a weekly series highlighting the pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

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Two Takes on the Business Case for Strategic Corporate Philanthropy

Posted by Eileen Cunniffe
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Two recent articles make the case for strategic corporate philanthropy. And while the authors come at the topic from different angles, they agree that when corporate foundation or corporate social responsibility leaders align programs with causes that matter to their businesses, the investments yield many types of dividends.

 

Christine Park, president of the New York Life Foundation, offers the example of the impact her organization has had in addressing childhood bereavement. She notes that while as many as one in seven Americans loses a parent or sibling before age 20, grieving children are a surprisingly overlooked group. Since New York Life deals with families in times of grief, this cause resonates with people throughout the organization. As she explains, “…we practice advocacy with a lower-case ‘a’—with a focus on raising awareness, education, and public concern for issues where there is a clear and compelling need and little rational dispute as to the merits of the issue.”

 

Since adopting the “under-attended-to issue” of grieving children, the foundation has been able not only to invest resources (more than $13 million since 2007) in supporting grieving children, they’ve also been able to shine a bright spotlight on the topic and shape the national conversation about the needs of these children. They’ve forged strong partnerships with a number of leading nonprofits in the field, such as the Moyer Foundation and the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, and fostered alliances across nonprofits in this category.

 

Doug Conant, former president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company and chairman of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), likens corporate giving and corporate social responsibility to R&D—“a discovery phase in investment in a social issue.” He sees philanthropic investments as “incubators for promising ideas and a mechanism for understanding both community and corporate needs.”

 

Conant cites examples from his tenure with Campbell Soup, including corporate and foundation initiatives to halve the company’s environmental footprint, partner with the American Heart Association to address consumer health concerns, and address issues relating to both childhood obesity and hunger.

 

“I observed that the more we leveraged our business resources to deliver social value to the communities around us, the more engaged our employees became and the better we performed in the marketplace,” Conant states.

 

Conant also references initiatives from other companies: IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge, a competitive grant program that sends teams of employees into cities around the world to address community issues; and Vodafone’s philanthropic investment in mobile banking services in rural Africa, which eventually led to a larger business investment in the region.

 

Both Park and Conant cite the benefits of aligning philanthropy with business-related causes—not only in terms of brand reputation and “incubating” business ideas, but also in terms of executive and employee engagement.

 

Park notes that the childhood bereavement cause actually filtered up to the foundation through the company’s network of agents; and that “championing an aligned cause increases employees’ pride and participation in the foundation’s work and, quite frankly, yields greater senior executive endorsement and financial support from the company.”

 

Conant underscores the potential for professional development through skills-based volunteering aligned with philanthropic causes. “Many IBM employees report that the Smarter Cities Challenge was one of the most rewarding experiences of their careers. In short, it’s a priceless program for professional development and employee engagement that IBM could not have purchased through the market.”

 

At a time when corporate foundations and grantmakers are under as much pressure as anyone to demonstrate their strategic value to the businesses they represent, these leaders make strong cases for continued investment in philanthropy.

 

(This post, originally published in The Nonprofit Quarterly, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

 

           

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Corporate Funding Came Back After the Recession, But Did it Leave the Arts Behind?

Posted by Michael Stroik
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While a new report shows that the global recession shifted funding away from the arts, is there a silver lining in how companies have changed their view of investing in communities?  CECP, in association with The Conference Board, recently released Giving in Numbers: 2013 Edition, an annual analysis of corporate giving trends among the world’s largest businesses. Despite a slow economic recovery, the majority of companies gave more in 2012 than in 2007, before the recession, yet the majority of funders decreased their funding of the arts. Companies decreased arts funding annually in each year from 2007 to 2012. The steepest declines occurred in 2008 and 2009, at the height of the global recession.

 

The news is not all bad for arts organizations. While the majority of arts funders have decreased funding, many continue their support today. In fact, behind only education and health and social services organizations, more companies supported the arts than any other program area in 2012, albeit at lower financial levels (Giving in Numbers, page 20). Revenues and profits have increased for large businesses since 2009, and giving budgets are expected to grow in coming years.

 

The shift away from the arts is likely related to many factors and trends occurring across the corporate philanthropy field. Companies aim to drive measurable societal impact with each grant, and many focus efforts on single program areas with the hope of moving the needle on specific societal problems. So why haven’t arts agencies reaped the benefits of an increased focus on individual program areas? Based on our research, there are a variety of reasons. Most notably: 

 

  1. The Recession: During the recession it was no surprise that the fastest growing program area was community and economic development. The world’s largest businesses aimed to support community efforts to rejuvenate local economies. The hope was that economic growth, no matter how small, could spur consumer confidence and pay dividends for companies in the long-run. Many companies prioritized these programs over arts initiatives in the last half decade.
     
  2. Education Issues in America: CECP’s research sample is global but 92% of companies are based in the United States and focus the majority of funds domestically. In 2012, education support topped the list of program areas supported by large businesses for the first time since CECP first published Giving in Numbers in 2006.  American students are falling behind global peers in math and science achievement, and companies are concerned about the future of the American employee base. In addition, the racial achievement gap in student test scores (click here for more information) spotlights the social justice factors that are at stake when dealing with education programs.
     
  3. Non-Cash Giving: In-kind contributions, consisting primarily of product donations and pro bono service, accounted for more than 95% of aggregate giving growth from 2007 to 2012. Arts agencies often have fewer opportunities to work with bulk product donations; only 4% of corporate contributions to arts agencies came in the form of non-cash gifts in 2012. See Figure 11 (page 20) for more details.
     

So what can we learn from these trends to help secure future arts funding? As the field of corporate community engagement expands, arts agencies should focus on their societal impact on communities, including the educational benefits of arts programming for disadvantaged children, when approaching large businesses for funding partnerships. Arts agencies should also emphasize the strong benefits their programs have for corporate employees that engage with them. Whether this includes volunteer offerings or arts performances at corporate offices, make sure corporate giving officers understand how your work will benefit their workforce in a variety of ways.


If you work for an arts agency, have you received less funding from large corporations since 2007? How do you plan to align with corporate funders in the future?  We would love your feedback on our findings -- info@cecp.co.

 

(This post, originally published in The Line is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!) - See more at: http://blog.artsusa.org/2013/09/26/art-and-business-connect-at-a-pop-up-think-tank-from-the-partnership-movement/#more-21829

(This post is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

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Power of Storytelling for Social Change

Posted by Wendy Hawkins
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It is hard to imagine a more visceral and impactful medium for connecting to an audience than film.  And if our goal is to bring about social change, what better medium for getting people to step up and take action than a well-made film?

 

I had the pleasure last week of participating on a panel on the topic of storytelling for social change – particularly around documentary films – at the 2013 CECP Summit.  There Joe Brewster told of the 13 years he and his wife spent filming their own son and his best friend as they embarked with great anticipation on the journey of their elementary and high school education – a journey that took them to some darker places and greater challenges than they had ever anticipated for this much loved son of a middle class African American family in New York City.  American Promise is deeply moving and delivers tough messages about the role of assumptions and biases in defining the world in which these boys grow up – beyond the ability of their parents to shape and control.

 

Rashid Shabazz of the Open Society Foundations and Program Officer for Black Male Achievement told of the process by which he and his foundation decided that this film had the potential to move audiences in ways that other, more traditional grants might never reach.

 

Holly Gordon, Executive Producer of “Girl Rising” told of the evolution of a concept from its birth through the iterative creative process.  She talked extensively about the role that Intel, as partner and sponsor, played in supporting the production in ways that exceeded anything that either partner originally anticipated.

 

This gorgeous and powerful film stands as testament to the impact that a brilliantly conceived and executed film can have.  Audiences are building over time with hundreds of thousands more to see the film as it airs on CNN on Fathers’ Day, June 16, and around the world in coming months.

 

While the panel – under the deft guidance of moderator, Dawn Porter, a filmmaker in her own right and founder of Trilogy Films – was open and honest about the challenges of partnership between filmmaker/artists and funder/corporations, agreement was clear that the process and the product were worth the strains of learning to speak one another’s jargon, march to a different drummer, and bridge the cultural chasms between our experiences.

 

In our case at Intel, we were not only learning to work with the filmmakers, but were building and managing an internal coalition encompassing Corporate Affairs, HR and Corporate Marketing.  While we are very comfortable with the public-private partnership externally, there are subtle differences in working with internal partners!  We are all still very much engaged in this partnership, and are all agreed that our significant joint dollar investment has been generously repaid whether measured in employee loyalty and new hire recruitment, in public awareness and accolades, or in making a genuine impact of our goals of improving education access for girls worldwide.

 

In the case of the filmmakers and the 10X10 action campaign they created, they will tell you about the support beyond cash that was instrumental in helping them reach their goals: marketing expertise, introductions at the World Economic Forum and other global venues, employee volunteers in countries all around the world, and much more.

We all count ourselves willing and ready to share more of the behind-the-scenes (literally!), nitty-gritty experience of our efforts.  We encourage more corporate givers to consider film as advocacy and filmmakers as grant recipients, and partnerships internal and external to bring the film to life.  The benefits can  exceed your most ambitious expectations.

 

*This post was originally published by CECP on 3BL Media on Friday, June 14, 2013.

 

(This post, originally published on by CECP on 3BL Media on Friday, June 14, 2013, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. - See more at: http://blog.artsusa.org/2013/07/02/power-of-storytelling-for-social-change-from-the-partnership-movement/#more-20897
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Ahead, Together: Corporate Philanthropy and the Arts

Posted by Jordan Lohf
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The powerful impact the arts can have on social change and business objectives was showcased for corporate giving officers from around the country last week thanks to a deepening partnership between Americans for the Arts and CECP. Held in New York City, the annual CECP Summit brought together over 250 of the senior-most giving officers from 130 of the world’s largest companies to hear exciting new research, discuss successes and challenges, and gain fresh perspectives and insights on how they can better impact workplaces, communities, and society while also advancing business.

 

With similar interests in data and research, and a shared belief that the arts can not only raise the quality of life, but also advance corporate strategies, CECP, with the help of Americans for the Arts, infused the annual summit for the second year with memorable arts performances, which I heard brought up in conversation again and again by summit attendees. This year, music, theatre, dance, and film provided an artistic beat to the summit, providing great examples of how art can be used to solve problems across sectors and industries.

 

Ahead, Together, this year’s conference theme, was a perfect metaphor for how the arts can advance society, build community, and drive economies.  President and CEO of Americans for the Arts Robert L. Lynch spoke to this idea at the opening reception when he said, “Business and arts partnerships show the powerful intersection among creativity, economic success, and community health,” a statement well-supported by the fact that 26 previous honorees of the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America were represented at the conference.

 

Aetna’s corporate jazz band, which provided the entertainment of the night at the opening reception, was the first example of how the arts can be used to inspire creativity in employees, add value to communities, and recruit new workforce. Comprised of five self-proclaimed “I.T. guys,” the jazz band played with the confidence and charisma of a well-seasoned professional ensemble as guests listened and mingled. (Photo courtesy of CECP.)

Aetna Jazz Band. Photo courtesy of CECP.
Aetna Jazz Band. Photo courtesy of CECP.

 

Christopher A. Montross, managing director of corporate public involvement at the Aetna Foundation, suggested all businesses ask their employees what they are passionate about and how they want to share those passions with the community. For Aetna employees, the healing powers of music led them to form a wind ensemble as an outlet to express their feelings after the tragedy of 911. Twelve years later, the company now has active participation in their corporate wind ensemble, jazz band, and gospel choir. 

 

Next, established NYC dance company Battery Dance presented the prolific work it is achieving through the use of modern dance as a change agent. “The quest has taken us to 60 countries on 6 continents with interactive cultural diplomacy programs in partnership with U.S. Embassies, and often, American corporations,” said Emad Salem, deputy director for international programs at Battery Dance. “We put the tools of choreography into the hands of young people and leave behind stepping stones for creative pursuits as well as increased self-confidence, team-work skills, and leadership skills.”

 

(Video courtesy of Battery Dance Company.)

 

On the final day of the conference, actor, playwright, and teaching artist Nilaja Sun performed an excerpt from her Obie Award winning solo piece “No Child…,” which depicted her experiences as a teaching artist in public schools in the South Bronx. Fully captivated, the audience not only stopped looking at their phones, but also produced several audible gasps of awe as Sun seamlessly weaved between multiple characters during her performance. (Photo courtesy of CECP.)

 

Between scenes, Sun broke character to emotionally describe the transformational quality of the arts. “The arts are the only subjects that teach our kids how to be human; they teach empathy, basic communication so lacking in our digital age, and stick-to-itiveness.”  Her speech and performance were received with a standing ovation and several sets of misty eyes in the crowd, mine included.

 

Businesses and arts organizations large and small need to take note of the opportunities and impact mutually beneficial partnerships can create.  As said by Robert L. Lynch, “Some ideas, tough realities, and new ways of thinking are best captured through artists’ medium.”  So for the sake of progress, access, and better business, let’s move ahead, together.

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