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


How Businesses Have Used the Arts to Engage Muslim Communities

Posted by Mariama Holman

Businesses have the power to stimulate social dialogue on cultural themes and topics in which their consumers and employees have ownership. They can utilize the arts to engage in conversation and build relationships with authenticity, sincerity and sensitivity.


The steps to doing so begin with strong insights on consumer behaviors and attitudes.

Observe the examples of the companies below to learn how successful businesses have engaged Muslim communities through the arts.


Wasl Properties, Dubai – Photography Competition

Wasl Properties, a leading Dubai property management and development company with a real estate portfolio of over 30,000 residential and commercial properties, utilized a key consumer insight to incite meaningful dialogue with its customers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, using the arts.


Ramadan is considered to be a time to reconnect with one’s faith, family and friends – creating a period for working less and spending more time building relationships.  Per Google data, during Ramadan practitioners are more active online than during other points of the year – performing more searches and activities on their mobile devices. Digital literacy has increased in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) as viewers have normalized the process of watching web series and videos.


Wasl Properties’ Ramadan Instagram Photography Competition utilized this consumer insight on content consumption and integrated it with a relevant occasion to engage its target audience.


Wasl Properties utilized the arts to open dialogue on the meaning of Ramadan.


Individuals over 13 years of age were given the opportunity to participate in the Ramadan Instagram Photography Competition, which was open to tenants and non-tenants a like. All were invited to share photographs capturing “what they love the most about Ramadan or an inspiring act of kindness” on Instagram with the hashtag #waslRamadan2017 and mentioning @waslgroup. Entrants competed to earn an Apple TV every week from May to June. Children were also given the opportunity to participate with a painting competition that ran during the same time.




Coca-Cola, BCA 10 Awardee, Middle East and Northern Africa Division – Web Series


Another brand that has succeeded in capturing the hearts and minds of their consumers through the arts and a savvy use of consumer insights is the BCA10 award winner, Coca-Cola.


Coca-Cola cited psychological research as the source of their campaign consumer insight - the most important variable of happiness is a good social relationships with others.

For years, Coca-Cola has been recognized as the food and beverage brand that portrays happiness – emphasizing happy people in its TV commercials and print ads. Coca-Cola brand managers asked themselves if the company could create sustainable happiness in the communities it inhabited through meaningful social dialogue.


In 2014 Coca-Cola sought to demonstrate its commitment to Muslim consumers during Ramadan by initiating a Ramadan campaign that was focused on opening up dialogue within families, friends and the overall community. The campaign had the objective of creating happiness through stimulating inclusion and an open mind.   


The campaign that resulted was called #OpenUp under the catch-phrase of “Open Up. It’s Ramadan.” It features real stories of Muslims who opened up dialogue with their loved ones and the results that followed. Highlighted individuals include Top Chef star, Bader Fayez and Kuwaiti fashion blogger, Ascia.


"The Open Up campaign inspires people to open up to different points of view and acknowledge that although differences will always exist, the bonds we share are stronger than any obstacle," according to Tolga Cebe, head of marketing at Coca-Cola Middle East.


Wasl properties and Coca-Cola showcase just a few of many examples of how businesses have engaged in social dialogue through the arts. Browse through our Success Stories page to learn more about how businesses can use the arts connect with their communities.


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


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


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