Up to the minute news on arts and business partnerships.


Einstein and Lovelace: Scientific Innovators Who Valued the Arts



At the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Council on Foundations, Walter Isaacson, the Chair and CEO of the Aspen Institute, gave an opening address that highlighted several groundbreaking thinkers who valued the arts, including Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Ada Lovelace (the daughter of Lord Byron, who is credited as the world’s first computer programmer).


About Albert Einstein, Isaacson said, “His success came from his imagination, rebellious spirit, and his willingness to question authority. These are things the humanities teach….He had an artist’s visual imagination. He could visualize how equations were reflected in realities. As he once declared, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’”


About Ada Lovelace, Isaacson observed: “She was a romantic as well as a rationalist. The resulting combination produced in Ada a love for what she took to calling ‘poetical science,’ which linked her rebellious imagination to an enchantment with numbers… Ada’s great strength was her ability to appreciate the beauty of mathematics, something that eludes many people, including some who fancy themselves intellectual. She realized that math was a lovely language, one that describes the harmonies of the universe, and it could be poetic at times.”


“Human creativity involves values, aesthetic judgments, social emotions, personal consciousness, and yes, a moral sense.” Isaacson said. “These are what the arts and humanities teach us—and why those realms are as valuable to our education as science, technology, engineering, and math.”


How do the arts inspire your work? Tell us on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz.


Read more about Isaacson’s speech from this article in Nonprofit Quarterly.


Read more about Americans for the Arts' presence at the Council on Foundations Annual Meeting.


Photo of Walter Isaacson from Nonprofit Quarterly.


It's #GivingTuesday!

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

Black Friday... Cyber Monday... #GivingTuesday! #GivingTuesday, the worldwide movement to create a national day of giving, is celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving -- this year, Tuesday, December 2, 2014. The pARTnership Movement encourages our network of business leaders and companies to participate in #GivingTuesday through the arts by sharing our messaging campaign, including the 8 reasons businesses partner with the arts, with employees, colleagues and friends.


Join Americans for the Arts in the spirit of giving. Consider making a gift to Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading nonprofit organization for the advancement of the arts and arts education. As a thank you for your support, #GivingTuesday donors will receive an Americans for the Arts tote bag (while supplies last)!


In addition, you can support Americans for the Arts by shopping on Amazon! That's right -- when you shop on AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of your purchase price to Americans for the Arts. AmazonSmile has the same products, same prices, and same service that you have come to know and love from Amazon. Just start your shopping at and select "Americans for the Arts Inc" to support our cause.


Share your #GivingTuesday stories with us! We'd love to hear how you have supported the arts around the nation, and will work with you to promote your story nationally on the pARTnership Movement website.


For more information on #GivingTuesday, visit


Canada Seeks Private Sector Support for the Arts

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

America is not alone in making the case for business support for the arts. Business for the Arts, Canada's association for connecting arts and business, looks into the motivations behind Canadian corporate arts support. According to the article below, Canadian corporate contributions to the arts are up 49 percent since 2008. Astonishingly, 57 percent of corporations said they had not given to the arts because they had never been asked. (This correlates to our own American survey, the BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts, in which 66 percent of American businesses surveyed said they had never been asked to give to the arts.) The question on Canadian minds -- with a scramble for limited government arts and culture grants, will Canadian arts groups look to the business community for the support that they need, and will businesses step up to the plate and give more to the arts? Read the full article from The Globe and Mail below.


When it comes to arts funding, can corporate dollars replace government grants?


Announcing the 2014 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce the honoree companies selected by the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), a division of Americans for the Arts, as The BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America for 2014.


Each year, Americans for the Arts, through the Business Committee for the Arts, recognizes ten U.S. companies for their exceptional commitment to the arts through local partnerships with artists and arts organizations, arts and culture grants and sponsorships, matching gift and corporate giving campaigns, volunteer programs and pro bono services, initiatives that engage employees and evoke creativity in the workplace, and board membership and leadership.


In addition, Frederic C. Hamilton, chairman of The Hamilton Companies (Denver, CO) and chairman emeritus of the Denver Art Museum will receive the 2014 BCA Leadership Award and John Deere (Moline, IL) will be inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame. The BCA 10 Awards, BCA Leadership Award and BCA Hall of Fame will be presented by Americans for the Arts on October 1, 2014, at a black-tie gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City.


The 2014 BCA 10 honorees are:


AC Entertainment (Knoxville, TN)
BBVA Compass (Birmingham, AL)
Brookfield (New York, NY)
Brooks Resources Corporation (Bend, OR)
Classical Movements, Inc. (Alexandria, VA)
Edward Jones (St. Louis, MO)
Hallmark Cards (Kansas City, MO)
Milliken & Company (Spartanburg, SC)
PECO (Philadelphia, PA)
Thrivent Financial (Appleton, WI)


Frederic C. Hamilton, Chairman, The Hamilton Companies (Denver, CO)


John Deere
(Moline, IL)


“I am once again pleased to celebrate such an impressive array of BCA 10 honorees that span business size, industry and geographic locations,” says Robert Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Each year, the BCA 10 sets the standard for other businesses by upholding the arts as an integral part of office culture, the community, and the economy. Through financial and in-kind support, employee volunteer hours, and workplace arts initiatives, these businesses ensure arts access for current and future generations and serve as successful and inspiring models of business arts support.”


Edgar Smith, chairman of the Business Committee for the Arts Executive Board and chairman and CEO of World Pac Paper shares a similar sentiment: “As a business leader, I continue to be inspired by the outstanding partnerships with the arts that the BCA 10 showcases each year. The exceptional partnerships this year’s honoree companies have forged both locally and nationally, truly highlight the benefits of arts to business, as well as the benefits that arts and business partnerships bring to the communities in which they operate, spend time, visit, live, work and play.”


Presenting Sponsors of the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America 2014 gala are Frederic C. Hamilton and Lanny and Sharon Martin. Sustaining Sponsors are BBVA Compass, Brookfield, and Thrivent Financial.



AC Entertainment
Known as one of the foremost concert promoters and festival producers in the United States, AC Entertainment produces over 700 concerts, events and festivals annually and has become a household name in the music and arts industries. AC Entertainment’s most acclaimed event, the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, is known as the largest camping music event in North America and was listed in Rolling Stone’s “50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock & Roll.” The Bonnaroo Works Fund (BWF), the charitable division of the festival, has given back upwards of $5 million to support the efforts of approximately 100 charitable causes. $2 from each ticket sold is dedicated to charitable giving. In 2013, the Bonnaroo Works Fund allocated more than $360,000 to 20+ deserving organizations, with approximately one-third of the total designated to programs advancing the arts. In addition, AC Entertainment often constructs outdoor venues and creative situations to showcase art associated with its festivals and special events. Supporting the arts—even beyond producing concerts and festivals—has become intertwined with the company’s core objectives.


BBVA Compass, nominated by the Houston Symphony Orchestra
BBVA Compass aims to build a better future for its communities by fostering an appreciation for the arts among its employees, clients and neighbors. A 36-piece collection of abstract sculptures and paintings is displayed throughout BBVA Compass Plaza in Houston. In 2013, a Volkswagen Beetle decorated with more than 2 million beads by Mexico’s Huichol Indians, on loan from Mexico City’s Museo de Arte Popular, was on display inside the banking center’s lobby as a way to enhance the experiences of employees, clients and visitors. The bank has initiated diversity programs in partnership with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the New Mexico Dance Institute, among other cultural institutions. BBVA Compass Charity, the bank’s employee charitable giving program, allows employees to make charitable contributions via payroll deduction to nonprofit organizations. In 2013, employees donated more than $1.3 million to qualified nonprofits through this program, a portion of which supported arts organizations. Additionally, more than 1,600 BBVA Compass employees contributed more than 72,000 hours of volunteer service.


Brookfield, nominated by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts
Since its launch in 1988, Arts Brookfield, the cultural arm of Brookfield Office Properties, has invigorated public spaces through the presentation of free cultural experiences in Brookfield’s premier buildings around the world. Signature programs include the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival at Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan and the FIGat7th Downtown Festival in Downtown Los Angeles. For clients and employees, the emphasis on arts and culture within the workplace enlivens the corporate office environment. For neighboring residents and the general public, Brookfield’s public spaces become untraditional-yet-welcoming venues through which to experience the arts.In celebration of its 25th anniversary this year, Arts Brookfield launched Art Set Free, a global online showcase that will create a large collection of public art, raise awareness about the importance of public art, and highlight local artists.


Brooks Resources Corporation, nominated by Campbell Consulting
In its over 45-year history serving the city of Bend, Oregon, Brooks Resources has made community enrichment through art and design one of its primary goals. One of the major public initiatives the company supports is Art in Public Places, which has placed over $1 million worth of public art throughout the city. Brooks Resources also supports local arts organizations such as Nature of Words, Arts Central, BendFilm and Caldera, which help at-risk youth gain access to the arts. Brooks Resources employees offer free marketing and accounting services as well as leadership mentoring to arts organizations throughout the city of Bend. In addition, over $100,000 of Brooks Resources’ marketing dollars are used to advertise and promote local arts and cultural festivals, concerts and films. At its neighborhood center at NorthWest Crossing, Brooks Resources annually hosts “The Hullabaloo,” a free summer festival and concert. The company encourages volunteerism and several staff members are involved on a volunteer-basis with arts organizations, including serving in board or advisory roles with those organizations.


Classical Movements, Inc., nominated by the Dallas Symphony Association, the Miami Children's Chorus, and the Pacific Boychoir Academy
Driven by a love for music and the performing arts, Classical Movements, Inc. arranges over 50 concert tours per year for choirs, youth orchestras and professional ensembles to over 140 countries around the world. In 2013, all of the company’s philanthropic efforts were allocated to the arts. Beyond financial contributions, Classical Movements provides pro bono support to arts organizations in the form of volunteerism, workplace giving, and advertising and marketing services. Classical Movements hosts the Serenade! International Choral Series and the Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival, free and open to the public. Classical Movements is also dedicated to sharing music internationally. In South America, Classical Movements has donated funds for teachers’ salaries at the Escola de Música de Rochinha in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and established the Melodia! South American Music Festival to bring classical music to the region. In addition, Classical Movements has donated dozens of instruments to music schools across the globe, arranged various sponsorships for foreign music students to attend universities, and sent many touring choirs to perform in underprivileged areas around the world.  


Edward Jones, nominated by the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis
Edward Jones views art as essential to building strong, stable communities and to enriching the lives of the members of the communities it serves. For more than 20 years, Edward Jones has supported the Arts and Education (A&E) Council of Greater St. Louis through a corporate match to the A&E campaign, ensuring the vibrancy of more than 70 local arts organizations. In addition to supporting the A&E Council, Edward Jones also supports many individual arts events and organizations in the St. Louis area. Edward Jones covered the full cost of two performances by the Angel Band in St. Louis, which raises awareness against sexual violence. The concerts were a huge success, raising more than $47,000, which will go to support a new music-based therapy program for survivors of sexual assault at Maryville University in St. Louis. In addition to financial support, volunteerism at Edward Jones has increased substantially over the past two years, thanks in large part to the firm’s Day of Caring policy, which gives home-office associates one full paid day per calendar year to volunteer at the charity of his or her choice, which include many arts organizations.


Hallmark Cards, Inc., nominated by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
From its founding in the early 20th century, Hallmark has fostered creative environments both inside and outside the workplace, and has been particularly instrumental in building the arts and culture community in Kansas City, Missouri, where the company is headquartered. Since the 1970s, Hallmark has contributed over $35 million in cash contributions to all of the major visual and performing arts organizations in the Kansas City area, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. In 1969, Hallmark initiated the Kaleidoscope program, which has provided free creative art experiences to more than 8 million children and their families.A significant portion of the estimated 48,000 volunteer hours Hallmark employees contribute to the community each year serve arts and culture organizations. These range from jazz museums and choral groups to dance troupes and improvisational theater. Hallmark encourages employee volunteerism through its VIP (Volunteer Involvement Pays) program, which awards a cash grant of up to $400 a year to nonprofit organizations as a way to recognize employee commitment to volunteerism.


Milliken & Company, nominated by the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg
Milliken & Company is dedicated to “doing well by doing good.” Over the years, this effort has manifested itself through the company’s support of the arts. Many sculptures and works of art decorate both the interior and exterior of Milliken’s facilities, the grounds of which are open to the public. The hope is that Milliken’s collection will engage customers and guests by exposing them to a broad range of art and design. Aside from the artwork on campus, Milliken & Company reaches beyond its own workplace to support the arts in its community. Through its support of the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, Milliken helps to provide over 40 professional artist residencies per year, as well as performances of music, dance, theatre and opera in the schools throughout Spartanburg County. Milliken is now exploring the option of integrating the arts into the work of Milliken scientists in order to invoke creative and scientific learning in the workplace. Milliken also funds the STEAM Teacher’s Institute, which promotes arts integration in STEM (science, technology, education, math) education.


PECO, nominated by Brownstone PR
PECO supports programs that have a meaningful impact on arts and culture because these programs are a crucial part of the economic and cultural well-being of the communities it serves. In 2013, PECO provided $1 million for performing and visual arts organizations in Philadelphia and its surrounding regions. PECO sponsors Crossing Boundaries with the Barnes Foundation, an interdisciplinary outreach program for middle school students that combines in-class learning led by Barnes educators with a structured tour of the Barnes collection, one of the most famous art collections in the world. PECO has also contributed to arts education initiatives such as ArtsRising, a community-wide effort to improve and expand equitable access to high-quality arts education. In addition to financial contributions, PECO encourages its employees to give back by volunteering their time and talent to arts organizations. In 2013, PECO employees volunteered nearly 12,000 hours to nonprofit organizations, many of which were arts and culture organizations, and many PECO employees serve on the boards of regional arts nonprofits.


Thrivent Financial, nominated by Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
Thrivent Financial recognizes that strengthening arts organizations and arts programming helps to build and sustain healthy and vibrant communities in which its members and employees live and work. Over the past 10 years, Thrivent has donated approximately $17.8 million to local arts organizations. Thrivent has maintained support for the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center annually since 2004, including title sponsorship of its Education Series. Beyond financial contributions, Thrivent boasts one of the finest corporate religious art collections in the United States, making much of its vast collection available for public viewing. The company has also allowed certain artworks to be circulated internationally to museums, educators, and historians for various exhibitions, lectures and scholarly publications. In addition, Thrivent has a generous corporate gift-matching program and also encourages employees to share their creative talents by participating in the Thrivent Choir or by submitting original artwork to online auctions as part of the company’s annual giving campaign.


Frederic C Hamilton, chairman, The Hamilton Companies, 2014 BCA Leadership Award
A Denver Arts Museum (DAM) board member since 1977 and chairman since 1994 (now chairman emeritus), Frederic C. Hamilton has played an integral role in the realization of the DAM’s expansion and in their institutional growth and sustainability. Hamilton led the first two endowment campaigns for the Museum, raising more than $100 million. His commitment to the Museum’s many initiatives, including collecting, hosting major traveling exhibitions, engaging community business leaders and providing a strong financial platform for the future, has directly influenced its success and reputation. In January 2014, Hamilton bequeathed a gift of 22 paintings worth more than $100 million to the DAM, nearly tripling the size of its Impressionist collection. It is the largest donation in the museum’s history. Hamilton has served as a member of the Trustees’ Council of the National Gallery of Art and is a Trustee Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Clyfford Still Museum, the Boy Scouts of America, Denver-based Graland Country Day School, and leads the endowment for the Boys and Girls Club of Denver.


John Deere, 2014 BCA Hall of Fame
Throughout its 177 year history, John Deere, a 2005 BCA 10 honoree, has purposefully incorporated and promoted arts and culture to both strengthen its business as well as enrich the quality of life in communities where its nearly 70,000 employees live and work. To enhance the environment of the world headquarters building for employees and visitors alike, the company began dramatically expanding its art collection in the 1960s, starting with the commissioning of “Reflections of an Era” by Alexander Girard, a three-dimensional mural depicting rural Americana from 1937-1918. The unique mural is just one of approximately 2,300 fine artworks, including pieces by Henry Moore and Grant Wood, now on display throughout the company’s global facilities. John Deere is a long-time supporter of the Quad City Arts Visiting Artist Series, in which professional musicians, actors, singers and dancers share their talents through school educational presentations, reaching nearly 45,000 students each year. On a global basis, Fundação John Deere—the John Deere Foundation in Brazil—invests in numerous arts and culture programs for children in John Deere home communities and throughout the country.


For information regarding the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America, please contact Patrick O’Herron, Business Committee for the Arts Coordinator at (212) 223-2787 or via e-mail at


Corporate Giving is Down According to Giving USA

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

The 2014 Giving USA: Annual Report on Philanthropy, published by the Giving USA Foundation, has just been released. Giving USA is the longest-running, most comprehensive report on business philanthropy in America. The complete Giving USA 2014 report, with estimates covering 2013 giving, is available at


The following infographic from the Benefactor Group, summarizes the 2014 Giving USA report. One of the interesting findings in this report is about corporate giving to all charities (not just the arts): 

  • Corporate giving decreased 1.9 percent in 2013. 
  • Even though the market did very well in 2013, corporate profits slowed substantially compared with 2012. 
  • Corporate profits are directly linked to corporate giving.


Click the infographic below to view the full resolution version at For valuable information on the motivations behind business support specific to the arts, download the BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts.



INFOGRAPHIC: Arts Sponsorship Spending is on the Rise in 2014, According to IEG

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

According to IEG, sponsorship spending on the arts is expected to grow 1.4 percent in 2014, down from 2.6 percent in 2013. While corporate interest remains high, spending growth is hampered by organizations that continue to sell need-based sponsorships, not marketing-driven solutions. Vist to view the englarged infographic.


For more information on the motivations behind why businesses are supporting the arts, download the BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts.


(Image courtesy of

Lincoln Financial Group Leads 2014 United Arts Campaign in Hartford

Posted by Tim Yergeau

The Greater Hartford Arts Council is proud to announce that Lincoln Financial Group will chair the 2014 United Arts Campaign, reflecting the company’s unwavering dedication to the arts and cultural community in Central Connecticut. Lincoln Financial has been a steadfast supporter of United Arts through generous foundation support, employee engagement and a strong example of local corporate citizenship.


Laura Dambier, site leader for Lincoln’s Hartford operations and Senior Vice President of Partner Solutions for Life, Claims & Distribution, will chair a Campaign Cabinet of community and business leaders to ensure the success of the 2014 campaign.


"Lincoln has a proud history of giving generously of our time and our resources to the communities in which we live and work,” said Dambier. “The arts enrich our lives in so many different ways, which is why it’s our honor and privilege to chair the 2014 Greater Hartford Arts Council Campaign. We are extremely excited to lead this year’s campaign and partner with other organizations so the arts can continue to thrive locally."


Running from February to June, the Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign is a community-wide fundraising effort that joins together corporate contributions, government and foundation funding and individual donations to support more than 150 local arts and heritage organizations across Greater Hartford.


United Arts is critical to the health and vitality of the region’s cultural assets. Each year the Arts Council invests more than $1.7 million in operating and project-specific grants, provides a range of programs and critical services to local arts organizations and artists, and promotes the power of art through community outreach, public art, advocacy and arts education.


“Lincoln Financial Group is a tremendous supporter of the arts,” said Cathy Malloy, Chief Executive Officer of the Arts Council. “We are extremely grateful for the company’s leadership—and the incredible commitment of Lincoln Financial employees—as we work to uphold a strong, vibrant cultural community today and into the future.


The United Arts Campaign Chair acts as an important link between business and the arts, encouraging corporate leaders to invest in the local cultural community. The 2013 United Arts Campaign, chaired by United Technologies, raised $2.6 million.


Lincoln Financial Group holds an exemplary record of supporting the arts in Connecticut’s Capital City. Each year, Lincoln’s Hartford office hosts a United Arts workplace giving campaign to encourage employees to share their individual artistic talents and exercise their creativity; last year’s employee effort raised more than $20,000. The Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk—a series of sculptures and installations along the Connecticut River that celebrate the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln—was dedicated in 2008 and remains a key component of the city’s public art collection. Lincoln employees also proudly serve on the boards of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Wadsworth Atheneum, TheaterWorks and Riverfront Recapture, in addition to numerous other non-profit boards.


Arts and cultural funding is one of the significant priorities of the Lincoln Financial Foundation. As a portion of more than $800,000 in charitable funds awarded locally by Lincoln Financial Foundation in 2013, $182,000 in grants were provided to cultural programs at Artists Collective, the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford Stage, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Riverfront Recapture and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The Lincoln Financial Foundation has been a longtime supporter of Neighborhood Studios, the Arts Council’s nationally acclaimed summer apprenticeship program, which provides area teens with world-class arts instruction and career skills training suited to today’s workforce.


For more information on the United Arts Campaign, visit


Nominate your favorite company for the 2014 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America!

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
Nominate your favorite company for the 2014 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America!

Know of a business with outstanding arts partnerships? Work for one? Nominate now for the 2014 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America!


(Photo credit: The Aetna Employee Volunteer Jazz Band performs at the 2013 BCA 10.)


The BCA 10 recognizes businesses of all sizes for their exceptional involvement with the arts that enrich the workplace, education, and the community. Past winners include Aspen Skiing Company, which partnered with international artists to bring their works to the snowcapped mountains of its ski resort; Atlantic Salt, Inc., which hosts free public art festivals on its seaside dock in Staten Island; Scholastic, Inc., which has been sponsoring the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for youth for over 90 years; and Microsoft, the infamous technology giant, which is helping to increase access to arts education through company-wide education initiatives. For more outstanding examples and to nominate, visit


Nominations for The BCA 10 are open until Friday, February 14, 2014.


Winning businesses will be honored at the BCA 10 Gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City on October 1, 2014.


(Photo credit: Salt sculpted by salt dock workers into gallery spaces for the 2012 LUMEN Festival, Atlantic Salt, Inc.)


For more information, visit or contact Patrick O’Herron at


Fostering a Culture of Giving in Hong Kong

Posted by Mara Walker

I recently returned from Hong Kong where I participated in the International Arts Leadership Roundtable organized by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. As with many countries around the world, the arts and culture organizations in Hong Kong are often funded 70, 80, or 90% by the government. They need to diversify their funding pool and are looking to the United States as a model. I was the only American among other arts representatives from Australia, Canada, England, Singapore, Japan, Korea, and many others from Hong Kong itself – all envious of our perceived high degree of private sector resources going to the arts, our ongoing ROI on public sector support, and the existence of Americans for the Arts to advance all of the arts for all the people in this country.


While there is money on the ground in Hong Kong, evidenced by the beautiful Hong Kong skyline and downtown light show I witnessed nightly, there isn’t a culture of giving. Leaders from the arts, academia, business, media, and government were brought together to discuss how to create change and foster giving to the arts and it was great to be a part of the conversation.  Americans for the Arts staff are often asked to travel around the world to talk about the U.S. funding model for the arts in order to provide a roadmap for such change. There is a sense that we’ve figured it out. It’s true that we have a long tradition of giving in this country, but private sector support could – and should – be larger. It currently accounts for roughly 30% of an arts organization’s budget, with individual giving accounting for a majority and corporate and foundation support behind. 


On a positive note, we are seeing increases in businesses giving to the arts (2012 saw a return to 2006 levels of support) but only 4.6% of total corporate giving goes to the arts, as those dollars are always competing with social and health causes for attention. Businesses focus their arts giving on impacting the communities in which their employees live and work, and we are working to build the awareness about how partnering with the arts can help them reach their business goals. I spoke about our pARTnership Movement campaign when I was in Hong Kong and how we are demonstrating that connection by changing the dialogue to less be about an ask for money and more about building strong and lasting arts and business relationships that are mutually beneficial – financial support often follows.


That isn’t to say that “the ask” isn’t important. “The ask,” whether for funding or partnering, is everything. Positioning the arts as a solution provider that builds employee creativity and retention and strengthens the community is key. We have seen the power of collaboration time and time again, which is why we feature success stories on our website, recognize where partnerships have been effective through our BCA 10 awards and communication vehicles, and share ideas for creative partnerships at conferences and gatherings.


Our meeting space in Hong Kong was in the new Asia Society complex which beautifully stands as a testament to partnerships, constructed with funding from both government and private sources. The venue now has not only a meeting space but also features a theatre and gallery, where they were showing the daring “No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia” exhibit, jointly presented by the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation New York as part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative.


I also spoke to fellow arts representatives about the other two types of private sector funding in the U.S.: individual giving and foundation giving. The majority of private investment in the arts comes from individual giving, but it can be fair-weathered and is increasingly coupled with a desire from donors to be actively involved in decision making. Patron funding here is at risk from challenges to charitable giving tax donations and is sensitive to the economy and consumer confidence, but a strong relationship with donors can make for long-term funding commitments. Foundations, the third private sector source, are seeking new ways to measure the impact of their arts giving – a real challenge in that true impact can often take longer to measure than any single grant cycle.


Hong Kong has plans for a new cultural district in West Kowloon which is being designed to be a major hub for performing and visual arts activities, and is positioned to bring all of these sources of private sector funding together. It is initially being funded by the Hong Kong government with the hopes of future public/private partnerships that will lead to the engagement and enjoyment of all of the people. I shared that the U.S. has repeatedly seen the positive impact of cultural districts and what happens when the public and private sectors work together to invest in stronger communities.  West Kowloon is surely going to see that come to life when it opens starting in 2017 with the Xiqu Centre, a world-class performance facility for a very traditional art form.


I am proud of our private sector giving to the arts in the U.S. and our culture of giving.  I, and the other Americans for the Arts staff, are always eager to travel abroad to share our statistics and stories.  International arts leaders have a lot to learn from each other in our efforts to make sure the arts are understood as a community, economic, workplace, and social driver. Many places, like Hong Kong, are at a crossroads between valuing the traditional, like their famed Cantonese Opera, and celebrating the new, like the upcoming West Kowloon Cultural District. We are honored to help build bridges between the traditional and the new, the public and the private, and the national and the international, wherever possible.


*This article was posted on ARTSblog.


2013 Civic 50 Announced, Recognizing America’s 50 Most Community-Minded Corporations

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
2013 Civic 50 Announced, Recognizing America’s 50 Most Community-Minded Corporations

(Photo credit:


The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), Points of Light and Bloomberg have announced the Civic 50 survey results for 2013, which recognize America’s most community-minded corporations. According to the survey data, more businesses are giving employees the opportunity to work with community organizations and finding that it simultaneously increases their bottom line and employee satisfaction.


Many past honorees of the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America made the list (which each received the award for their exceptional involvement with the arts that enrich the workplace, education, and the community), including:


  • 3M
  • Adobe Systems Incorporated
  • Aetna
  • Altria Group*
  • AT&T*
  • Bank of America*
  • Devon Energy
  • Microsoft Corporation


The Civic 50 applicants were evaluated and accrued points based on several criteria, including the amount of financial and human resources applied to civic improvement; whether internal and external resources are used to maximize community impact; how a company’s community engagement activities align with its business interests; how broadly community engagement is supported and institutionalized within a company’s policies, systems and incentives; and how a company measures the social and business value of its community engagement programs.


“We are encouraged by the results of The Civic 50 survey, which show that increasingly community engagement is recognized as being core to business success,” said Neil Bush, chair of the Points of Light Board of Directors, and Michael Weiser, board chair, National Conference on Citizenship, in a joint statement. “We hope the best practices of The Civic 50 will serve as a valuable resource for other companies that want to transform their business, make a greater commitment to their communities, and change lives.”


For more information and the full list of the Civic 50, visit Congratulations to all 2013 honorees!


*denotes BCA Hall of Fame recipient.


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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.