Arts and business news from around the country.


St. Petersburg’s New Art Scene

Posted by Melyssa Muro
St. Petersburg’s New Art Scene

Amid the streets of St. Petersburg, FL, the private and tourist sectors alike have recently seen an explosion of revenue due to utilizing one simple lifehack—the arts. These reciprocal relationships of business, tourism, and arts in St. Petersburg stand living testament to the many ways any business can use the arts and not just boost sales, but improve the entire community.


Steve Westphal, St. Petersburg local entrepreneur and restaurant owner says, “without a doubt, collaborating with the arts, whether individual artists, arts organizations or arts festivals, is a good decision for businesses.” Westphal features etched glass, metal sculpture, marine life prints, and iconic grouper paintings by the late Bill Woo in his restaurant —and business is booming as a result.


More specifically, small businesses like his have been part of an astounding economic impact of over $200 million generated by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, according to a 2015 Arts & Culture Economic Impact Report produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.


Staybridge Suites is getting in on the action, as well. Partnering with ARTicles Art Gallery & Custom Framing, the hotel has converted its dining area and lobby into a gallery space where artists can display their work. In addition to having pieces on display at all times, Staybridge hosts Art Night every three months, each bringing up to 100 people in. As artists revel in the exposure and hotel guests are more satisfied with their stay, it is easy to see why the show’s curator, Nathan Beard, refers to the partnership as “a mutually beneficial relationship.” Beard explained how the partnership goes even further than this, “we are always referring people who stop by ARTicles to the hotel and the hotel is referring guests to our gallery.”


Additionally, the City of St. Petersburg itself has collaborated with the local Chamber of Commerce to establish the St. Pete Store & Visitors Center, which displays the work of many artists and crafters on a rotating showcase. With a cycle of 40 artists being represented, the Chamber has reported the collective artists’ return to be nearly $20,000.


With all of the opportunities created and partnerships listed above, it is easy to agree with director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, John Collin’s statement, “Art is great for business.”






Arts Groups Make Strong Chamber Allies

Posted by Stacy Lasner

Across the country, Chambers of Commerce and arts organizations are partnering to advance business and community goals. In a recent article in Chamber Executive, the membership magazine for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Americans for the Arts' Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives Emily Peck and Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia (ABC Philadelphia) Executive Director Karin Copeland discuss the unique partnership between arts organizations and Chambers of Commerce.


"In 1981, ABC Philadelphia was started by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the National Arts & Business Council (now part of Americans for the Arts), and housed within the chamber.


The Greater Philadelphia Chamber and the national Arts & Business Council realized that this entity would be a valuable tool in leveraging new funds, funneling new resources, and  cultivating new leadership from the business community to support nonprofit arts and cultural institutions in the Greater Philadelphia area. ABC Philadelphia is the only local arts agency in the U.S. that is directly affiliated with a chamber, and for 35 years this partnership has led to unique and important work in advancing both the arts and business sectors."


Read more (p21).


The article also spotlights a partnership between ArtsinStark, Canton, Ohio's local arts agency, and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, which partnered on the creation of the Canton Arts District, "the Best Arts District in Ohio."


Learn more about the relationship between ABC Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.


Do you know of another great Arts-Chamber partnership? Tell us on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us at


The Creative Economy: How a Chamber of Commerce and Arts & Business Council Are Changing the Conversation

Posted by Stacy Lasner

In a recent ARTSblog post, Rob Wonderling, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, explained how the Chamber partners with the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia (A&BC) to facilitate the continued growth of the region by breaking down the barriers that separate “arts” from “businesses.”


A&BC supports the business aspect of the arts community through volunteer consulting projects, board governance, leadership development programs, and pro bono legal services. The Chamber seeks to influence business-friendly legislation, participates in initiatives to improve education and the community, promotes professional enrichment programs, and provides members with cost-efficient ways to run their businesses. Together they help foster a vibrant cultural community that people want to work in and visit.


Learn how A&BC has provided Chamber members with opportunities to develop their skills through the arts and how, by combining their efforts, they provide business, technology, and legal professionals the opportunity to apply their skills to challenges in Greater Philadelphia’s creative sector.


Five Strategies for Arts-Business Relationships

Posted by John Bryan

CultureWorks is the privately-funded nonprofit organization that serves as the local arts agency for Richmond, Virginia. Although it is only the nation’s 43rd largest city, Richmond has a significant business community as evidenced by it being the headquarters for 11 Fortune 1000 companies – 6 of which are F500s.


Five ongoing strategies have helped CultureWorks engage good relationships between Richmond’s arts and business communities:


  1. CultureWorks is an active member of the Greater Richmond Chamber. “Active” includes volunteering for committees, paying to be part of the annual 3-day InterCity Visit, and attending Chamber gatherings – all of which help to establish and strengthen personal relationships.
  2. CultureWorks publishes reports on its activities and accomplishments and makes sure that business leaders read the reports with interest. I snail-mail a hardcopy of each report to several dozen business leaders, and I attach a hand-written personalized sticky note that has a message such as, “Frank – Good to see you last week. I’ve highlighted a couple of things on this report that you might find interesting.” It’s a lot of work preparing 50 or more of these letters, but the personalized notes cause this to be a communication that the business leaders do read.
  3. CultureWorks invites business leaders to volunteer isolated segments of their time to serve on short-term project-specific committees and task teams. Examples include the review panels for the CultureWorks Grants Program and our metrics task team. This not only builds relationships, but also gives the corporate participants a first-hand look at the value of the arts.
  4. CultureWorks has an intentional and ongoing track record of doing things that are of direct value to the business community. For example, we have presented talks by and discussions with The Conference Board CEO, Jonathan Spector, and former American Bankers Association President, Ken Ferguson. CultureWorks was the primary force in gathering the multi-sector consensus needed to establish Richmond’s downtown arts and culture district – a development that provides important benefits for the business community.
  5. CultureWorks has an ongoing presence in the editorial section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch – our daily newspaper – as evidenced by the publication of three or four CultureWorks-written editorial features each year. We send copies, along with sticky notes, to selected business leaders. Richmond’s business community does pay priority attention to the Richmond Times-Dispatch; its publisher is former president of the Chamber.


When CultureWorks was created in 2009, our staff members and our brand were largely unknown in Richmond’s business community. The five strategies listed here have caused the business community to be more aware of, and have greater appreciation for, the importance of arts and culture to our community.


(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.)


*This article was posted on ARTSblog.


Arts Integral to Community Success

Posted by Marilyn Wolf Ragatz

The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission (ACAC), which advises Athens-Clarke County’s mayor and commission on cultural affairs and aesthetic development, has launched a new partnership with the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

Since its conception two years ago, ACAC has been busy developing new procedures, starting and completing new public art installations, and considering the many opportunities and possibilities for growth and support of the arts. In that time, the work and responsibilities of ACAC have grown rapidly. This growth produced two critical needs: staff assistance and visible, accessible office space.

Thanks to the help of the county government and county commissioners, and to Athens Area Chamber of Commerce President Doc Eldridge’s vision to bring an arts component to the chamber family, ACAC now has a place to hang its hat.

We are all aware that developing collegial relationships results in better outcomes. The opportunity has now been created for the organizations housed at the Chamber office to continue sharing, discussing, and collaborating on projects with the added perspectives and contributions of the arts. What makes this new partnership especially exciting is the fact that the arts fit so well with the chamber’s mission to help its members and the community grow and prosper.

I recently attended a public art conference in Pittsburgh as part of the Americans for the Arts National Conference. Americans for the Arts and businesses across the United States came together to create the pARTnership Movement, a resource for educating and connecting businesses and arts organizations. Their purpose is to provide opportunities, information, and resources to achieve the greatest level of benefit for both.

The eight reasons businesses partner with the arts are that employees want to live and work in a vibrant community; the arts help build market share, enhance brand and reach new customers; the arts help businesses get their message across in engaging ways; creativity is among the top skills sought by employers; the arts challenge employees to be their best; access to arts events is a way for businesses to show appreciation for employees, and when businesses partner with local arts, they partner with the whole city.

A number of cities have established business and arts organizations. The mission of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, for example, is to “strengthen our creative sector, including the arts, culture and for-profit creative businesses, by engaging the business, legal and technology communities, providing capacity-building services, and serving as a thought leader and a convener.”

Clearly, Athens-Clarke County is taking a very progressive step to create an opportunity to partner business and the arts by establishing a place for the ACAC at the Chamber.

The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce now houses LEAD Athens, the Clarke County Mentor Program, Adopt-A-Class, the Economic Development Department, the Athens Downtown Development Authority, and the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission. Consider the goals of these organizations and imagine the benefits our community can experience from their working together to positively impact the lives of our citizens: development of strong leaders; support of an improved level of education; new business and job growth; economic prosperity, cultural connections, enhanced environment, contributions to our quality of life and community pride.

The arts are business, and the arts support other businesses, even businesses not necessarily considered to be among members of the creative industries. In fact, just about every business accesses the arts at some level or in some capacity, in everything from website design to advertising to brand logos.

The arts are not an “extra.” They are an integral part of all we do as individuals and as a community. Let’s celebrate the new partnership of the arts with the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. Together, these two arms of our community will join to successfully contribute to Athenians’ quality of life.


(This post, originally published in the Athens Banner Herald, 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.)

(This post, originally published in the Athens Banner Herald, 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:

Support Local: Finding the Dramatist Beneath the Suit

Posted by Kara Robbins

I work in Newton, a moderately affluent suburb outside of Boston. Newton is blessed with a community of smart, talented, hard-working, and well-rounded individuals and families. Essentially, it’s the target audience for the arts—except these folks are busy!


When the Newton Cultural Alliance (NCA), an umbrella organization for participating arts and culture nonprofits, incorporated in 2009, Newton had 2 orchestras, 2 large music schools, 4 choruses, 3 visual arts organizations, 2 community theaters, 2 high school theaters, 1 nationally recognized ballet school, a museum, 3 colleges, and more.


On the business side, while Newton is one city, it is divided into 13 villages so there is no distinct city center, but rather many village centers. In theory, this is a very endearing idea but in practice, it is somewhat divisive and, until some recent efforts, no merchant association has succeeded in uniting the businesses or the community.


That being said, our local businesses are extremely supportive of area nonprofits and are always willing to donate to auctions, hang flyers, and participate in special events. In and of itself, this is a very helpful stance but it doesn’t build long-lasting or thriving relationships that will truly make a change in the community. That’s where NCA has picked up the ball. 


We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we are doing our very best to engage in mutually beneficial programs. One major goal is to create and host high-quality, fun events that increase the awareness of local dining, shopping and arts. To do this, we’re working with business owners on an individual level, the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Newton on specialized projects. Some of our current arts and business programs include:


1. Culture ‘n Cuisine: a discounted dining program for NCA members’ audiences. Local restaurants offer diners a 10% discount and receive free, expanded marketing in return. Our audiences feel well taken care of and discover new dining destinations!


2. Arts Stroll & Shop: This annual holiday event encourages Newton residents to “Shop Local. Eat Local. Art Local.” The 2013 Stroll included participation by 40 local businesses and 150+ artists and musicians! Attendees are able to stroll through the village center and take advantage of the diverse shopping and dining while being entertained by performing and visual arts. Empty storefronts are turned into temporary art galleries, young musicians play in their favorite shops, and it all culminates with a collaborative holiday performance.


Shoppers enjoyed live music at National Jean Company during the Arts Stroll & Shop.

Shoppers enjoyed live music at National Jean Company during the Arts Stroll & Shop.


3. Chamber of Commerce Events: With the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce, NCA hosted its first arts and business gathering in Fall 2012. What began as a networking opportunity has turned into a developed relationship, where NCA is invited to attend Chamber committees and the Young Professionals Group is even hosting an event to benefit NCA.


When our focus changed from “how will blank project affect the arts?” to “how will blank project develop our local economy and community?” the opportunities for partnerships were many. It is extremely satisfying to be viewed as a business partner amongst our for-profit friends and rewarding to take on a leadership role in the nonprofit community.

There is still a long way to go before we achieve our goals but at this point the hardest part is slowing down to refine our current projects while turning down others. We want to do it all!


Starting these partnerships is all about who you know—it’s all about building relationships! Become friends with your local merchants! If you walk by the same set of shops every day, pop in when you’re not asking to hang a flyer or for an auction item. Learn who is new in town and get in there and introduce yourself.

Remember, we’re in the arts partly because it is so much fun and, undoubtedly, everyone has a story they’d love to share about playing the recorder in elementary school or how they’d really love to sink their hands into some clay. Find the dramatist beneath the suit and connections will bloom!


(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.)


*This article was originally posted on ARTSblog.


Demonstrating the Arts as a Key Component to the Local Economy

Posted by Chad Barger

Just like most small to medium-sized metro areas around the country, Harrisburg, PA has not always fully capitalized on the power of its local arts scene. About eighteen months ago the Cultural Enrichment Fund (CEF), the region’s united arts fund, sought to change this.
When looking for a community partner, the organization first thought of the local chamber of commerce. As its name states, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corporation is a blended organization—part chamber of commerce and part economic development corporation. Knowing this fact, CEF had high hopes that they would understand the power of the arts—especially regarding its workforce development benefits.
After an initial meeting it was clear that the chamber leadership did understand the value of the arts, but it was not from local advocacy efforts. They knew about the value of the arts from national conferences where topics such as Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class, had been discussed. From these sessions they fully understood that attracting and retaining high-quality talent, versus a singular focus on infrastructure projects such as sports stadiums, iconic buildings, and shopping centers, is a better use of a city’s resources to spur long-term prosperity.
From this starting point it was easy for the Cultural Enrichment Fund staff to explain how the arts fit into that picture. Showing how the arts make Central Pennsylvania a better place in which to live, work, and play and explaining that a strong arts community is a key workforce development tool is something that they do every day.
The chamber executives were on board, but it was pretty clear that there was a disconnect. While it seemed that most business executives knew about the region’s thriving arts scene, it was not always being used as a tool for employee recruitment and retention by corporate human resources directors. So, CEF proposed partnering with the chamber to co-sponsor an Arts Impact Committee aimed at addressing this disconnect and the chamber quickly signed on.

The Arts Impact Committee assists the chamber in their economic development efforts by working to raise the level of awareness regarding the local impact of the arts on economic development. The committee creates educational offerings and messaging for the chamber’s use regarding the economic impact of the arts as well as key tools to assist member companies with recruiting and retaining talent. Finally, the committee partners with Americans for the Arts and other key groups to ensure that the necessary data is available to show the impact of the arts and cultural sector on our region’s local economy.
Since its inception, the committee has launched two key initiatives: the Capital Region Arts Census and ArtsLink.
The Capital Region Arts Census was conducted in response to feedback from local human resources professionals that while they knew the region had a strong arts scene, they didn’t have a tool to prove it. The Census was the first comprehensive survey of nonprofit arts organizations and arts related businesses (e.g. galleries) in over 15 years. The end result is an attractive one page listing of arts organizations and a spreadsheet directory—both of which are free community resources now available on the chamber’s website.
ArtsLink is a quarterly email newsletter that is a co-publication of the Central Penn Arts Guide and the Harrisburg Regional Chamber. It is dedicated to bringing Central Pennsylvania’s arts and business communities closer together. Each issue contains an informative Q&A with one of the region’s art or business leaders, a travel piece showcasing the beauty of both local and far-flung destinations, and timely position articles on arts happenings within the region.
Leading the Arts Impact Committee has also allowed the Cultural Enrichment Fund to strengthen its relationship with the local business journal. This recently allowed them to expand an existing in-kind advertising relationship to including ad placements for Americans for the Arts’ pARTnership Movement. This has further helped to raise the awareness of the arts in the local business community and to bridge the gap between business and the arts.
The end lesson has been that business folks really do understand that the arts are a key component to the local economy—they just need a little help to figure out how to leverage them and make the connections. Thankfully thinking creatively and making connections are both items at which arts executives excel!
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. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!


*Originally posted on ARTSblog.

Bringing Together Arts, Culture, and the Law

Posted by Joan Goshgarian
Bringing Together Arts, Culture, and the Law

“It’s easy for me to be passionate about producing beautiful photography. It’s a lot harder to get excited about the mundane details of running my photography business. This conference was an excellent source of information on legal details that are an important part of any artist’s business. Although it would be impossible to get all the answers in one day, I now have a better idea of the questions to ask. I also made connections with other artists and organizations that can help me strengthen my business.”  ~ Becky Field, Photographer, Concord, NH


So begins the feedback from the attendees at the Arts, Culture, and Law Conference that the New Hampshire Business Committee for the Arts (NHBCA) sponsored in June along with the New Hampshire Departments Cultural Resources and Justice, the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) School of Law. The conference was designed for members of the arts and cultural industry, artists and organizations and board members, as well as legal professionals interested in cultural issues.


I was involved with this conference because the NHBCA started the Lawyers for the Arts/New Hampshire program in 1991 with our member law firms to offer arts-related legal assistance on a no-fee basis to artists and organizations.

In 2002, the NHBCA established a relationship with the UNH School of Law (then known as the Franklin Pierce Law Center) in Concord to refer these artists and arts organizations to the on-site clinic at their school.


The clinic is student-staffed and faculty-supervised, and in general assists people in civil matters who are unable to pay. In addition, UNH School of Law is a specialist in intellectual property matters and has a history of assisting those with issues in a variety of creative fields. Since the inception of the Lawyers for the Arts hundreds of artists and arts organizations have used this service.


In conjunction with the beginnings of the Lawyers for the Arts program, the NHBCA member law firms also created a booklet “Incorporation and Tax Exemption for New Hampshire Arts and Other Nonprofit Organizations: An Introductory Guide.” They responded to our request for this publication because we all have a demonstrated belief in and commitment to the importance of the arts and entire nonprofit community in New Hampshire.


The full-day Arts, Culture, and Law Conference featured more than a dozen panels discussing the presentation, “The IP Dialogues: Copyright Done Right and Gone Wrong.” A dozen other 60- and 90-minute panel sessions took place over the course of the conference; included those with representatives from the legal profession as well as from arts, museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions. Panelists gave short introductions to the topics being discussed, with the bulk of each session devoted to answering questions from attendees.


Session topics included: “Art and Culture Get Down to Business”; “Artist and Institutional Relationships”;” Content Creation and Distribution in a New Media World”; and “Copyright and the Performing Arts.”


In addition, table topic discussions facilitated by leaders from the legal and cultural communities occurred during lunch. Cathy Green, chair of the board of the UNH School of Law welcomed the attendees, and New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney provided closing remarks that highlighted his appearance at the United States Supreme Court with the importance and symbolism of the arts.


At the end of the day the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce hosted a reception at the conference site and included its artist networking group which is part of the Creative Concord initiative. Lawyers, artists, conference attendees, and sponsors sipped wine, sampled hors d’oeuvres and shared the day’s insights. The music of the guest harpists and the art exhibits on the walls at UNH added to the energized gathering.


McGowan Fine Art Gallery owner Sarah Chaffee wrote, “I can’t say enough about how valuable that Art, Culture & the Law Conference is/was. I used information that I took away from the seminar on copyright the very next day. One of my artists thanked me for being so knowledgeable and standing up for her rights!”


With feedback like this, of course we will organize the third annual Arts, Culture, and the Law Conference!


*This was originally posted on ARTSblog.


*Photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos


Perserverance Pays Off: Reaching out to Your Local Chamber of Commerce

Posted by Suzan Jenkins
Perserverance Pays Off: Reaching out to Your Local Chamber of Commerce

After several years of trying, I was happy to finally snag a meeting with the Montgomery County (Maryland) Chamber of Commerce to make a presentation called Innovative Ways to Attract/Retain Top Talent: Innovative Arts & Humanities Community Strategies. How did I do it? Sheer perseverance!!


Why did it take me nearly two years to convince the president and CEO of the chamber of commerce that arts-centric businesses play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy?


Because like many corporate professionals, she was skeptical that we could demonstrate that partnering with our sector can build market share; heighten awareness of member company products and services; attract employees; increase job satisfaction; and, enhance relationships with existing and new customers.


Like so many of her peers, she was unaware of that arts-centric businesses spend money locally, attract talented young professionals, generate government revenue at a high rate of return, and serve as a cornerstone of tourism and economic development

So I kept at it. And finally, she shared that her members’ most pressing concern was employee retention. She asked whether the arts and humanities community could offer strategies that would help corporate employers attract and retain top talent.


When I emphatically assured her that we could, she eagerly invited me to make a presentation to a joint meeting of the Economic Development and Small Business Committees. I was thrilled! So, of course I asked former Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council Board Member Mara Walker (also the chief operating officer of Americans for the Arts) to join me and bring her pARTnership Movement slides. I knew our dynamic duo would hit a home run!


Mara prepared a stellar presentation draft and we edited it together. She also prepared a captivating narrative that demonstrated how harnessing the creative community has helped specific multinational companies gain a competitive advantage and advance their business strategies. From the first slide, our audience was hooked!


Our presentation went smoothly, so much so that one of the members immediately invited us to make another presentation for their company within the month. And we will!

We must continue to give practical examples of how the business community can consider the arts and humanities as a resource for creative problem-solving and that our sector can help to build market share.


As we further develop our relationships within the business community, we can help them heighten awareness of their company’s products and services, attract new employees, and provide them ways to increase job satisfaction and enhance relationships with existing and new customers.


It’s not often that we can see and feel a win-win, but in this case it worked!


(Editor’s Note: Join Suzan at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio for the Private-Sector Funding in the New Normal session to hear more.)


*This post was originally posted on ARTSblog.  Photo: Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County (right) and Mara Walker, COO Americans for the Arts address the Economic Development and Small Business Committees.


10 Ideas to Create a "Moment" with Business

Posted by Margot Knight
10 Ideas to Create a "Moment" with Business

Margot Knight, Executive Director of Djerassi Resident Artists Program gives arts organizations advice on how to build relationships with businesses.


Those of us in the mission-driven arts resource business (this means YOU), all have stories about the moment you connected to a donor from the business community. An authentic, real MOMENT when what you and your organization do connected either professionally or personally with the businessman or woman on the other side of the desk, cocktail, or dinner table.


Sometimes it happens right away. Sometimes a relationship takes months, even years, to develop.


And sometimes, that moment of truth reveals a dead-end future, or more painfully, spells the end to an existing relationship. Here are some of my best advice based on my own experiences—I hope they’re helpful:


1. Always bear in mind that money is the means to an end, not an end to itself. This premise has ripples—it means you won’t compromise your mission for money. It means you won’t get ahead of yourself in a conversation and talk about money before you talk about mission. And it means you MUST understand what your potential business partner values. For him or her, money is the means to an end as well.


2. You have to do your homework. Just like you, the person sitting across from you woke up with a notion of what a successful day looked like for them. Before you walk into any business, large or small, do a little research. What does the business do? How and where do they do it? How are they doing? What are the external pressures bearing on THEM? Most businesses have vision and mission statements of their own. Look them up. The old adage of “seek to understand before being understood,” comes to mind.


3. The knowledge you’ve gathered is not for you to “show-off” what you know. We all know there is nuance that is never revealed until we have a face-to-face. Use that knowledge to ask questions. Walk into the room thinking, “There’s more I don’t know about this company than I do.” “I think I saw you have a partnership with XYZ arts organization—is that typical of the kind of community partnerships you’re interested in?” “Did I see your sister is a singer? How did she get her start”? You are there to share, not to sell.


4. Go where businesspeople go. Join the chamber of commerce, the economic development group, and the tourism bureau. It’s a pay-to-play, opt-in world so budget accordingly. Perhaps one of your current business supporters will sponsor your membership or conference attendance. Don’t be a Johnny-one-note, always talking about the arts. Learn about business regulations, tax issues, economic issues, etc. Sad to say too many people in business have the hallucination that the arts are irrelevant and artists and arts administrators are willfully ignorant of the “real” world. Burst that bubble and change that hallucination by engaging them in conversations that matter to them.


Read the other six reasons on ARTSblog.


*Photo courtesy of Aidan Jones.

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