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Business and the arts: Why they need each other

Posted by Karin Copeland
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The goals of the arts, culture and creative sectors are often viewed as separate from or counter to those of the business community. The Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia is working hard to change this perception and build a wide, two-way bridge between these communities by creating awareness around the impact of creativity in the workplace and the contributions of arts and culture to a thriving economy.

 

The creative sector fuels exciting, vibrant lifestyles for citizens in the Philadelphia region; and the colorful, intriguing cultural life of Philadelphia drives people to move into the city, building a stronger hiring pool. Likewise, the business communities feed critical experience and resources into the lives of artists and art-making institutions. This is why the Arts & Business Council envisions a vibrant creative sector with strong leadership — in terms of professional staff and volunteer board leaders — and a cultural scene that continues to be one of our region’s greatest assets. Through our capacity-building services, we work every day to strengthen a creative sector that is already valued for how it enriches the quality of life in our region, the jobs it creates, the visitors it attracts, and the impact is has on our children. And we champion the cause of a creative sector that has the support of audiences, businesses, donors, volunteers and government agencies.

 

According to Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year — $63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences across the nation. According to the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s 2012 report, Southeastern Pennsylvania’s cultural organizations and their audiences have a combined impact of $3.3 billion on the region’s economy. With such a massive amount of revenue generated by arts and culture; more attention should be paid to future planning in these sectors. The benefits of strong artistic sectors stretch beyond revenue, as recent studies from Greater Good show that involvement in the arts helps increase critical and creative thinking. Cities that have implemented creative sector plans have seen an increase in growth and support, including support from the private sector, according to research by the city of Chicago.

 

Creating a unified plan toward arts, cultural and creative economy improvement for our region would not only benefit the arts communities—it would improve local business and economy as well. Programs such as the pARTnership movement, an initiative of Americans for the Arts, support the partnering of the arts and business communities to promote strength between two differing groups. The pARTnership movement points out that when the arts prosper in a community, the citizens of that community prosper as well. Notably, employers look for creative individuals who can approach problems in different ways and employees are more likely to work in areas where the arts and culture thrive.

 

Our vision is to keep working toward a time when this unified plan can be realized by continuing our work to unite the arts and business sectors in the Greater Philadelphia through shared experiences and resources; creating a solid foundation for the future of the creative economy in Philadelphia. We’ve been doing this for more than 30 years through skills-based volunteer programs that have delivered high-impact management and technology consulting projects—Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) and Technology Connectors; through the region’s most comprehensive nonprofit board-training program for business and legal professionals—Business On Board; and through the pro bono legal services delivered to arts groups and individual artists through Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. We know from experience that great things happen when arts and business people get together—problems are solved, eyes are opened, long-lasting relationships are forged:

 

  • Ask Andrew Kurtz, General & Artistic Director of Center City Opera Theater, how much his organization has benefited from the wisdom of BVA Volunteer and recently retired business executive Dorien Smithsonin rethinking his organization’s business model. Or ask Dorien, already an opera-goer, how much she enjoys flexing her business muscles in a whole new setting, knowing she’s having a positive impact on an arts group whose work she appreciates.
  • Ask Christine Cox, Co-Artistic Director of BalletX, how much she values the addition of a professional CPA to her board, someone who took the time to learn what board service means and has quickly stepped up to a leadership role as board treasurer. Or ask 2013 Business On Board graduate Frances Sperling Feldbaum, Principal at St. Clair CPA Solutions, what a great time her clients and business associates had when she hosted them at a BalletX dress rehearsal last month.
  • Ask Ricardo Torres, Senior Manager with North Highland, Technology Connectors volunteer and amateur photographer, how inspiring it was to work on behalf of one of our region’s premier visual arts organizations, the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Or ask Executive Director Jane Goldenhow much it mattered to have Ric working with her staff to help them with a new constituent database, guiding the needs assessment, RFP process, vendor bidding and contract negotiations.
  • Ask BVA Volunteer Mindy Mazer, Senior Manager of Corporate Staffing at Ametek, how much fun she has had readings books to children at Mighty Writers. Or ask Executive Director Tim Whitakerwhat it meant to his young organization to have someone with Mindy’s skills help them formalize employee policies and procedures. Someone who believes so much in the work of the organization that she recently joined its board.
  • Ask PVLA Volunteer Hans Smith, Intellectual Property Associate at BakerHostetler, how satisfying it was to defend local photographer Harry Saffren in a fair use dispute with a national media company. Or ask Saffren about the “above and beyond” impact that Smith had on Saffren’s ability to sort out his artistic rights and responsibilities in a nebulous area of law and move forward with his career.

 

Recently, we’ve been taking steps to engage even more arts and business professionals in conversations that have the potential to strengthen our region’s creative economy. We’ve added speaker forums and other special events that underscore themes of creativity and innovation, this year we’re hosting top TED speakers like Simon Sinekand Dan Pallottaand iconic media leaders like Arianna Huffington. These events often blur the lines between what has traditionally been considered arts or business thinking. This spring we will launch Designing Leadership, a professional development program, in partnership with IBM and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, for emerging leaders from both the nonprofit and for-profit creative communities. We believe programs like these — and the conversations they engender – are essential to the success of our region as a whole.

 

(This article was originally posted at the Philadelphia Business Journal.)

 

*This article was posted on ARTSblog.

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Actor Tim Daly speaks on the value of the arts and the Creative Coalition

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Emmy-award-winning actor Tim Daly, a Creative Coalition board member, believes that art is a part of everything we do. According to him, this means that we need creative thinkers to take business, innovation and invention to a new level. Why? Because creativity allows business to "leap over the competition."

 

Watch Tim's informative interview below, part of the Noble Profit video series, in which he details just how the arts and creativity impact the economy, using examples from Tesla Motors and IDEO.

 

 

Creative Coalition board member
Creative Coalition board member
Creative Coalition board memberCreative Coalition board member
Emmy-award-winning
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Why Philanthropy Should Steam Ahead and Support the Creative Economy

Posted by Claudia Jacobs
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When I was a college student in the 60s we thought ourselves intellectual, political and even somewhat evolved. A widely acknowledged putdown of college athletes oft heard was that their course load included Basket Weaving 101. That statement was not only insensitive to athletes; it also inadvertently reflected an additional put down of the arts. And that attitude remains and is reflected in how the arts are viewed today. “In the public schools, arts are all too often the first programs to be cut and the last to be reinstated,” says James Grace, executive director of the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston.

 

Today we need to update that thinking. If we are to actively enrich our communities, arts should not be a stepchild of science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). In New England alone, over 53,000 people are employed in the “creative economy” and that sector, if it were considered in the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), which it is not, would rank just below the data and information sector and just ahead of the truck transportation sector, according to 2009 statistics compiled by the New England Foundation for the Arts. The 18,026 New England arts organizations supply the economy with nearly $3.7 billion–so why does STEM, an acronym that excludes the arts, seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue? Yes, there are major reasons why the U.S. needs to be focused on producing adults with skills in these areas, but why not include the arts and go from STEM to STEAM?

 

Philanthropies are more and more focused on impact, grantee accountability, metrics and getting results. Sound good? Not so fast. While these evaluation measures have importance, danger could be lurking. For the metric-merry this can have the potential of giving stepchild status to the arts as the less easily measured are most vulnerable to being cut from the roster. Some argue that the increased frenzy with metrics may indeed play a role in stifling innovation.

 

“And arts curricula in schools,” says Grace, “have broad proven benefits that might not appear to be related to academics but are.” He says that “building the muscles of creativity enhances students’ engagement and development in all aspects of their education. The discipline and process of moving from an idea to a creative result is a skill that is translated whether your life’s work is about computers, architecture, nursing or music. What company doesn’t want engaged creative and innovative thinkers and disciplined workers? How many will survive the global environment without them?” Grace also contends that when arts programs were cut out of the curriculum in schools, it contributed to a lost generation of arts patrons and that has economic impact that is still being felt across sectors.

 

In addition, arts can have a magnetism that engages even the most recalcitrant students, some of whom might fear or be turned off by science, technology and math. Yet if their brains have been exercised in the arts, these same students might avoid getting turned off to education writ large. If we don’t lose these students along the way, they may get through school, mature and return to those other areas later in their educational or professional careers because they haven’t opted out, because they have a means of expression.

 

Imagine a society where the arts are a core component, not considered peripheral to the educational equation. Art is open to all – the working poor, women, persons with disabilities – so it is a social justice strategy and something where diversity has always been valued. Arts reflect culture and provide important lifelong tools.

 

And proof that philanthropies and individual donors may be ignoring the grass roots and important educational benefits within community organizations and schools, is that the majority of philanthropic dollars that are directed to the arts are going to the largest arts organizations – symphonies, museums, and theaters – leaving a smaller pool for funding schools and community organizations who employ the arts in neighborhood development strategies. Philanthropy can and should view the arts as a way to accomplish its wider mission. Broadening and expanding the vision about how we categorize the arts and putting them front and center on the necessary and core list, not the optional list, is an important first step.

 

Philanthropic dollars directed to the arts can leverage economic and neighborhood development. Some in the private sector have already come to this conclusion and reaped great return on that investment. Arts revitalize communities and strengthens the economy, improves safety, and creates vibrant neighborhoods.

 

And if trends in philanthropy, akin to trends in politics, are influenced by public opinion, a survey conducted by the Boston Foundation revealed that 78% of respondents said they wanted to live in communities in which corporations and local businesses actively support arts and cultural organizations.*

 

So, let’s think of the little engine that could–and get on the STEAM engine.

 

(This post, originally published on HuffingtonPost.org, 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.

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Introducing Flywheel, Sacramento's First Arts Incubator

Posted by Michelle Alexander
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Introducing Flywheel, Sacramento's First Arts Incubator

On June 1, the Arts & Business Council (ABC) of Sacramento launched Flywheel, the region’s first creative economy incubator.

 

For 25 years, ABC of Sacramento has run the Business Volunteers for the Arts program, facilitating over $1 million in pro bono services to artists and arts organizations. Sacramento’s arts scene has grown exponentially over that time, but the region still lacks a pathway to give emerging artists the tools, community, and exposure to establish themselves as sustainable businesses.

 

By curating a diverse group of the region’s top emerging artists, creative start-ups and arts organizations, ABC has been able to develop a pathway to sustainability for local talent, while also establishing our region as a hub for the arts!

 

Our first group of artists represents a cross-section of the capital region’s creative scene:

 

This diversity of disciplines and entity structures was a key component of  the success of the group, as they are able to collaborate on inter-disciplinary projects, get feedback from outside their own industry, and form a community that is supportive and exciting.

 

Already, our inaugural year has proven impactful for the community as several of our residents have received regional awards for being at the top of their fields, high-profile commissions, and regular press coverage.

 

Professionals and Business Volunteers for the Arts are working with the group, providing trainings, workshops, consulting, and pro bono legal, accounting, management, and marketing services.

 

It’s an exciting process to arm them with the entrepreneurial tools they will need to establish and maintain a sustainable business that also contributes to the community in such a unique way.

 

We can’t wait to see the results of this collaboration between business leaders and emerging artists here in Sacramento. Follow our progress on Facebook or our blog!

 

*This article was originally posted on ARTSblog.

Arts Brookfield Presents

Posted by Michelle Ang
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Arts Brookfield Presents

The New York Times recently did a piece on Brookfield Office Properties and its strong arts involvement with the establishment of Arts Brookfield. Here’s a little bit about what Brookfield is doing. And to read the New York Times piece, "Purveyors of Office Space and Lively Arts", visit, www.NYTimes.com.

 

Free art exhibitions and programs are not what you would expect to find within the stately buildings of Manhattan’s financial district. However, more office workers and visitors find themselves enjoying surprise performances by artists such as Mr. Taka Kigawa. The acclaimed pianist treated his audience to a number of Debussy’s Preludes in the lobby of 1 Liberty Plaza. This building is situated near Wall Street and is owned by a real estate corporation, Brookfield Office Properties.

 

In 1988, the corporation created a cultural branch called Arts Brookfield. Today, the organization is run by Debra Simon, a former dancer who cultivated years of experience in cultural planning and marketing at the Alliance for Downtown New York. Ever since its establishment, Brookfield Office Properties have earned a reputation as a key player for the integration of art and business.

 

Arts Brookfield spends approximately $1 million per year for the production of their free dance, theatrical, musical, and visual exhibitions set against the backdrop of their New York office buildings. In addition to this local program, Arts Brookfield also operates sister programs in Toronto, Calgary, Denver, Houston, and Los Angeles. The additional spending comes up to $2 million dollars. Altogether, the programs present about 400 free events annually for an audience of about 350,000 people.

 

When questioned about the incentives to create such a program, Brookfield executives said that “Art is an investment in the core business that pays off in a better class of tenants and higher rents.” Despite the corporation’s conservative inclinations, the projects presented have been centered mostly on contemporary or modern art. During an exhibition of his work at the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center, composer Judd Greenstein said, “You can talk to them about the power of an idea, and that’s really liberating.” The artist arranged various concerts from his Ecstatic Music Festival, with styles ranging from hybrid chamber music to electronic programs.

 

The Brookfield program offers an array of cultural projects, which include a kite flying exhibition, a huge tap-dancing mob, a blues festival, a photography exhibit dedicated to Italian Cinema, and a series of Mexican science fiction movies produced by Cinema Tropical.

 

Theatrical productions include works by the New York Classical Theater, Nerve Tank, and the Women’s Project. Dance presentations include a piece by Elizabeth Streb called “Human Fountain” where eighteen dancers swan-dived from a 35 foot high scaffold onto a padded surface.

 

One of the company’s ongoing partners, “Bang on a Can,” presents a marathon jam session that draws thousands of participants each year. Composer David Lang of Bang on a Can said, “The music we present, after all, doesn’t have a name attached to it or a venue dedicated to it, and it’s hard to describe to people. So having this carnival atmosphere, where people can stumble into it and discover the music as they’re going to get lunch, or go to work, is very exciting to us.”

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Demonstrating the Arts as a Key Component to the Local Economy

Posted by Chad Barger
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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.

Arts: The Mother of Invention

Posted by Janet Langsam
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Arts: The Mother of Invention

Every morning, I turn on the treadmill, tune into the Today Show and run until I bank 150 calories to earn a glass of Chardonnay at the end of the day.

 

Matt Lauer and the NBC crew are usually just eye candy and background chatter, but [April 25] they hit a nerve talking about college degrees that may be “useless” like “fine arts, drama, philosophy, religious studies,” when it comes to getting a job. Lauer quoted a recent poll that said that one out of two recent college grads are either unemployed or underemployed.

 

Donny Deutsch, one of the Today panelists said, “I never looked at a (college) major in my life in hiring people.”

 

And a good thing too since the National Arts Index published by the advocacy organization Americans for the Arts, indicates that interest in the arts as a college major is growing. It says that from 1996–2010 more than 1.5 million degrees were awarded in visual and performing arts, with annual graduations growing steadily from 75,000 to 129,000—an increase of 73 percent.

 

Could all these college bound kids be wasting their time?

 

Fortunately, according to the Americans for the Arts website, there are a growing number of jobs out there in creative industries that range from museums, symphonies, and theaters to small for-profit film, video, music, architecture, digital games, and advertising companies. So one doesn’t necessarily need to land a leading role on Broadway to use their arts degree.

 

“Nationally, there are 904,581 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 3.34 million people. Representing 4.25 percent of all businesses and 2.15 percent of all employees, respectively,quotes the site. In case one is tempted to quibble with these figures, they come from the most trusted of sources, Dun & Bradstreet.

 

Like any other subject, there are at least two or maybe a hundred schools of thought, and we Neanderthals in the arts believe that “creativity” is a good enough reason to study the arts.

 

According to Newsweek in a 2010 article entitled “Creativity Crisis”: “A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 ‘leadership competency’ of the future. Yet it’s not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care.”

The fact is that our businesses are crying out for creative employees…and…perhaps some of them learned to think creatively through the arts. The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful says Newsweek.

 

Steve Jobs said that this wouldn't have had different type faces without the arts.

While the arts don’t have a monopoly on left brain thinking or creative problem solving, they do have a remarkable track record.

 

So why is Lauer posing the question, “are (college) degrees in things like fine arts, drama, etc…useless when it comes to getting a job?”

 

Years ago (defined as when I went to college) a liberal arts education was thought to be the smartest and most comprehensive degree to pursue in preparation for a career in any field. Now, in this age of specialization, there is a college degree to be had in every narrow silo that fits a job description that may be “useless” in years to come.

 

I somehow doubt that such myopia will bring an entrepreneurial spirit back to American business.

 

Steve Jobs for one gave credit to a single calligraphy course in college, without which he says “the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”

Who knows where inspiration will come from next, so don’t sell the arts short. It is the mother of invention.

 

(Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Janet Langsam’s blog on April 25, 2012.)

 

*Photo courtesy of Jessi Jacobson.

Firms Push Visual Note Taking to Spark Creativity, Sharpen Focus

Posted by Timarie Harrigan
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Firms Push Visual Note Taking to Spark Creativity, Sharpen Focus

Author: Rachel Emma Silverman, Wall Street Journal.

Doodling for Dollars was originally posted on wsj.com on April 24, 2012.

 

Put down that smartphone; pick up that crayon.

 

Employees at a range of businesses are being encouraged by their companies to doodle their ideas and draw diagrams to explain complicated concepts to colleagues.

 

While whiteboards long have been staples in conference rooms, companies such as Facebook Inc. are incorporating whiteboards, chalkboards and writable glass on all sorts of surfaces to spark creativity.

 

Firms are holding training sessions to teach employees the basics of what's known as visual note taking. Others, like vacation-rental company HomeAway Inc. and retailer Zappos, are hiring graphic recorders, consultants who sketch what is discussed at meetings and conferences, cartoon-style, to keep employees engaged.

 

Doodling proponents say it can help generate ideas, fuel collaboration and simplify communication. It can be especially helpful among global colleagues who don't share a common first language. Putting pen to paper also is seen as an antidote to the pervasiveness of digital culture, getting workers to look up from their devices. And studies show it can help workers retain more information.

 

Even with advanced gadgets such as smartphones and tablets, "the hand is the easiest way to get something down," says Everett Katigbak, a communication designer at Facebook. Most of the walls at the company's offices around the country have been coated with dry-erase or chalkboard paint or a treatment for glass to allow employees to sketch ideas whenever they arise. The company's offices are filled with jottings, from mathematical equations to doodles of cats and dollar signs.

 

IdeaPaint Inc., which makes a paint that turns a surface into a whiteboard, says its sales have doubled annually since the product was introduced in 2008. The Ashland, Mass., company says more than half of its business is in the workplace.

 

Taking notes and drawing may help workers stay more focused, too.

 

A 2009 study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology found that doodlers retained more than nondoodlers when remembering information that had been presented in a boring context, such as a meeting or conference call. The logic, according to Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at the University of Plymouth in England, is that doodling takes up just enough cognitive energy to prevent the mind from daydreaming.

 

To read the full article please visit www.wsj.com

 

 

*Photo courtesy of birgerking

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Greater Lansing's Art in the Sky

Posted by Leslie Donaldson
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Greater Lansing's Art in the Sky

Driving around Greater Lansing, MI, commuters may be surprised to discover 672-square-foot works of art on area billboards that normally carry advertising.

These artful billboards can be found in the sky along the highways leading into Michigan’s capitol city, near highly trafficked shopping centers, and outside local neighborhoods, all transforming traditional advertising spaces into an artful visual display.

 

These billboards, which were all launched as an initiative to bring art to the masses via the medium of outdoor advertising, is made possible through a program called Art In The Sky, a unique partnership between the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and local advertising company, Adams Outdoor Advertising, highlighting the local arts community.

 

Debuting in March 2011, Art In The Sky billboards have been installed in various locations around the Greater Lansing region. To date, Adams Outdoor has donated space to local artists, each of whom have received an Individual Artist Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. A panel of peer reviewers selected the artists’ respective applications to receive funding for a specific arts project with a local public component. Grantees were selected on artistic merit and the potential impact of their public project upon the community.

 

To participate in the Art In The Sky program, grantees are given the opportunity to have one of their artworks produced into a 14’ x 28’ vinyl billboard. The arts council coordinates those who want to participate and prepares the images for production, with each billboard being standardized to offer brand consistency.

 

Adams Outdoor produces the large vinyl image, stores it, and installs it at locations that are not currently being occupied by a client. Through Adams Outdoor’s generosity, and a financial subsidy from the arts council, artist participants only pay $100 for their billboard.

Once produced, billboards may be in rotation for up to two years, initially installed outside of the county to attract visitors, and are then moved periodically to different locations throughout the Greater Lansing region on an as-available basis by Adams.

 

To date, nine vinyl billboards are in rotation, each featuring a different Individual Artist Grantee’s work. The billboards are visually attractive, and have helped raise awareness about the artistic talent in the region. The billboards have also created temporary outdoor “public art” in places where vacant billboards might once have stood. The result has been a win-win-win for all involved—the arts council, Adams Outdoor, and each of the local artists.

 

Additionally, the Art In The Sky program also serves to support the work of the arts council and its implementation of its regional cultural economic development plan titled: Arts Works: A Collaborative Cultural Economic Development Plan for Greater Lansing’s Urban Center.

 

This plan, launched in 2009, includes strategies to work collaborative with area partners to grow creative enterprise, integrate the arts into regional placemaking initiatives, and support the regional business community in attracting and retaining talent by highlighting our vast arts and cultural amenities.

 

Through the partnership with Adams Outdoor, the Art In The Sky program touches upon each of these strategies by creating awareness of our local artists in an effort to build and sustain their creative businesses, and by supporting the community-at-large by offering “public art” that defines place and attracts business and visitors to our region.

 

Through these and other great community partnerships, we know we are well on our way to becoming the Midwest’s most welcoming and supportive destination for creative innovators and entrepreneurs—and we are having lots on fun along the way.

 

This blog was originally posted on ARTSblog.

 

*A billboard by artist Barb Hranilovich.

When Working Together is as Important as the Work

Posted by Wayne Andrews
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When Working Together is as Important as the Work

Where we live is important to each of us. It is a key part of our identity. It’s a source of pride, even if our hometown is the punch line to a joke.

 

Is it really the good schools, parks, and access to shopping centers that make us live where we live? Many people find a fulfilling sense of community in smaller towns and rural regions that do not have all the advantages of larger communities.

 

Maybe it is not the measurable elements that give a place a sense of community but rather those intangible qualities that create the feeling. Could it be that working with your neighbors to build a park is more important to the sense of community than the actual park? The arts have always been one of the focal points around that help to build a sense of community.

 

Town festivals, cultural events, and celebrations are often the most visible signs of a community working together. Each pumpkin festival, summer concert series on the town square, or art sale pulls together diverse elements of the community.

An example of this can be seen in Oxford, MS, which has worked to define itself as an arts community. Numerous programs have been launched in partnership between various segments of the community.

 

Last year working with local business owners, artists, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, a monthly art crawl was launched to highlight the visual artists in the region.

 

Business owners opened their shops to one night-only art exhibits to encourage residents to spend the early evening downtown, walking and looking at art, hoping they would purchase items from their stores or enjoy dinner in a local restaurant, impacting the local economy.

 

The success was measurable and visible. Business owners experienced growing crowds, walking through art exhibits, sidewalks full of visitors from other communities, and retail shops drawing new customers during the art crawl.

 

Read the entire post on ARTSblog.

More News

Tap into the Region's Culture of Creativity
Jan 30, 2012 0 Comments
Anthony Cronin, Business Editor for The Day newspaper in Eastern Connecticut knows that the arts are important to the economy and businesses of the region.  In a column in the Day's business section, Cronin writes about many...
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