Arts and business news from around the country.


Arts and Business Partnerships Celebrated Across the Globe

Posted by Mariama Holman
Arts and Business Partnerships Celebrated Across the Globe

Business support of the arts is widespread across almost every continent, with examples from countries ranging from the United States to India to Mexico, South Africa and the United Kingdom.


In the United States, Americans for the Arts’ Private Sector Initiatives department along with a plethora of local Arts & Business Councils and Business Committees for the Arts across the country celebrate the great work businesses and arts organizations can do when they decide to partner. Each year, Americans for the Arts hosts BCA 10, a special night that honors 10 companies that practice exceptional involvement in the arts community in a way that enriches workplace, education and community. These businesses are nominated by local arts organizations and contend against many stand-out companies. Nominees span a wide swath of industries ranging from real estate and finance all the way to healthcare and consumer products and goods, including both small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. The 10 finalists are celebrated at the BCA 10 gala in New York City, which takes place in The Central Park Boathouse each year.



America is not alone in fostering a business community that supports the arts.

Internationally, companies understand the importance of giving back to the community, preserving and dispersing cherished cultural artifacts and cultivating local, regional and national pride through the arts.


Arts communities around the world in turn, celebrate and acknowledge these champions of culture and heritage.


For instance, recently Forbes India honored GVK, an energy, airport, transportation, hospitality and life science conglomerate headquartered in Hyderabad, India, with the designation of Corporate Commitment of the Year.


GVK recently converted 439,000 square meters of space in Terminal 2 at the Mumbai International Airport (MIA) into an impressive installation of art works and cultural artifacts from across the country. Art impacts every facet of the Terminal, with contemporary engineering and design all the way to traditional Indian arts throughout the ages and works created by women in villages living nearby.


“Frankly, it is not done for foreign nationals — it is done for Indians who I feel have learned to forget what the true beauty of India is,” according to Sanjav Reddy, managing director of the joint venture that governs Mumbai’s airport.


In Mexico, numerous companies are awarded honors for supporting the arts through their foundations, such as the Caixa Foundation. Per Mundo Ejecutivo, there are approximately 131 corporate foundations within Mexico alone – and this support is not just concentrated amongst large, national organizations. Thirty-six percent of the corporate foundations actually stem from smaller businesses. 


The notion of smaller to medium sized businesses celebrating local heritage, culture and innovation through the arts is found in South Africa as well. Business and Arts South Africa (NPC) is an organization focused on creating mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses and the arts. For the past 19 years, it has recognized businesses in the community that create successful partnerships with local artists and arts organizations with the BASA Awards, which honor small businesses, such as Mathews and Associates Architects which supported the Cool Capital Biennale Pretoria showcase of new ideas and designs, and Pam Golding Properties, a real estate company that sponsored the popular Knysna Literary Festival featuring South African talent such as Hugh Masekela and Nik Rabinowitz.


Arts & Business Scotland has maintained an Arts & Business Scotland Awards event for the past 30 years acknowledging small, national and international businesses from the likes of Deloitte to ArtPistol, a social enterprise for promoting UK artists.


Event awardees say there is magic in the mix of organizations, given smaller firms compete with large organizations for the same recognition, and take great pride in the accomplishment of winning.


“For such a small and new organization as IFS Worldwide & Cultural Documents it’s a massive endorsement when you think about the competition and short listers – it is a great honor to get an award” said a representative from IFS Worldwide and Cultural Documents.



Creative America – the $704 Billion Arts and Culture Economy

Posted by Jessica Gaines

Taken from the Huffington Post article “Goals Worth Fighting For,” by Americans for the Arts CEO Robert L. Lynch, below are eight goals that could strengthen our country through the arts. Great reminders to the business community and leaders everywhere as the status of federal funding for the arts is called into question.


1. Every person in the United States deserves to have access to the broad range of arts in his or her life. The way to do that is increase federal funding for the arts to $1 per capita for a more creative America;


2. Every child in the United States deserves to have access to every art form, grades K-12. The way to do that is fully fund and implement the Well-Rounded Education provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act to close gaps in access to arts education for all students;


3. Our country needs to be competitive and the arts provide a great opportunity for economic development, including tourism and support for small arts businesses run by entrepreneurs. One way to get there is by establishing a cabinet-level position to advise President Trump on the $704 billion arts and culture economy;


4. The creation of millions of jobs would be helped by boosting economic and community development programs, like those proposed in Senator Tom Udall’s CREATE Act, which promote the role of the arts in serving the American public through federal agencies such as the Small Business Administration, Rural Development Administration, FEMA disaster recovery centers—to name just a few. The job numbers speak loudly: the nation’s arts and culture sector employed 4.7 million wage and salary workers in 2013, with a total compensation of $339 billion;


5. Our military service members and veterans deserve to be fully supported during and after valiantly serving our country. Two ways to do that are to support the arts as they are integrated into health and wellness programs, which has shown much success in the past, and to increase access to arts therapists and artist-directed programs to help provide a pathway for re-entry and re-integration of our service members and veterans into the workforce. The NEA’s Creative Forces program is a shining example of this work;


6. Preserve or expand charitable tax deduction incentives;


7. Support creative youth development by strengthening community-based organizations working in youth development and the arts; and


8. Promote cultural exchange programs that advance diplomatic objectives and cultural cooperation through the exchange of art and other aspects of culture among nations.


As business leaders continue to share why they value the arts, the arts' impact to and improvement of society remains notably strong.  Additional resources and information about supporting and advocating for the arts are here.


Photo: Courtesy of Milliken & Company 2014 BCA 10 Award winnerFountain by Krisel. Sculpture located at the Roger Milliken Center.

Sheila Pree Bright’s Young American series from The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. A program made possible by 2011 BCA 10 and 2016 BCA Hall of Fame Award winner Aetna Inc.

Courtesy of Corning Incorporated 2015 BCA 10 Award winner. Dancers at 171 Cedar Arts Center, a multi-arts center supported by Corning Incorporated Foundation.



It’s About Your People

Posted by Jessica Gaines
It’s About Your People

According to MetLife's 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, 74% of employers understand the value of non-medical options while only 47% of employees do.


That’s pretty surprising considering employees desire to work for companies that meet their values and in jobs that bring them personal satisfaction.


So where does that leave businesses when thinking about the people that make them up?


Insurance and employee benefits leader MetLife produces a great deal of information about what is important to people in the workplace. Their research and explanation of trends surrounding multigenerational workplace and work-life balance are important topics for the ever-changing workforce. Particularly notable are their findings on workplace culture which directly align with using arts-based initiatives to strengthen employee engagement.


Why Developing a Workplace Culture Matters

The simple answer: increased output. A key observation in developing corporate culture is the trifecta of company value, employee morale, and productivity. MetLife describes culture as “a key competitive advantage for companies to meet challenges and power a business forward”.


Enhancing Workplace Culture with Arts-Based Initiatives

When a company seeks to strengthen their workplace culture, they can look to include the arts. By doing so they have increased their opportunities to strengthen employee engagement by encouraging personal growth, providing opportunities to develop new leadership skills, and by inspiring employees to innovate and collaborate. There are a variety of ways to bring arts into the workplace:

  • Team Trainings with artistic elements (improv, movement, visual creation)
  • Workplace Art Programs
  • Corporate Art Collections
  • Match Programs for Employees’ Arts Nonprofit Giving
  • Business Volunteer for the Arts

More suggestions can be found in our For Partners section.


Outcomes From Using the Arts to Grow Culture

In the pARTnership Movement essay "Engage Your Employees", it is mentioned that “organizations in the top quartile on employee engagement achieved two and a half times the revenue growth of organizations in the bottom quartile”. The essay goes on to share that engaged employees display two key traits:"High levels of attachment to an organization and a desire to remain part of that organization and a willingness to go above and beyond the formal requirements of the job by being good corporate citizens, pouring extra effort into their work and delivering superior performance."


As employers continue to think about engagement strategies, bringing the arts into company culture will allow your people to shine and your shared values to align.


Read the full pARTnership Movement essay on employee engagement and additional essays here.


Image: MetLife


Culture is a Growing Trend for International Businesses

Posted by Kate Reese
Culture is a Growing Trend for International Businesses

As data is increasingly used to modify indicators and improve performance in the business sector, it has become more apparent that strong organizational cultural is an important factor in growth. Deloitte’s recently published Global Human Capital Trends 2016 study, which is based on more than 7,000 survey responses, shows evidence to support this claim.


The report states that:


  1. Culture is a business issue, not merely an HR issue. The CEO and executive team should take responsibility for an organization’s culture, with HR supporting that responsibility through measurement, process, and infrastructure.
  2. While culture is widely viewed as important, it is still largely not well understood; many organizations find it difficult to measure and even more difficult to manage. Only 28 percent of survey respondents believe they understand their culture well, while only 19 percent believe they have the “right culture.”


Though the survey responses were sourced from more than 130 countries, nearly 82% of respondents agree that culture is a competitive advantage. However, only 28% of respondents are familiar with the cultural values of their company.

Is there a solution to the problem? It might be closer than you think: the arts.Engaging business employees through volunteerism and the arts is key to fostering a desirable work environment, increasing efficiency and morale, and doing good in the community as well as in the company. You can bridge the employee engagement gap by using the arts as a vehicle for driving positive change in a company’s culture. Here are 10 ways the arts can boost employee engagement in various facets of your company.


Across the country, today’s most innovative businesses are using the arts to help them meet some of their most difficult and vital objectives. Learn from these examples in Americans for the Arts’ essays that profile successful arts and business partnerships from across the nation, including one that focuses on using arts partnerships to inspire and engage employeesso that they are able to achieve their full potential.


Bridging the Gap Between Art and Business

Posted by Ajaz Ahmed

Successful collaborations between brands and artists are possible, once outdated preconceptions are overcome.


The poetry of ancient Persia is full of bridges. In the works of Rumi and others, metaphors are the bridges of art, in the sense that they unite two seemingly irreconcilable things. They give people a route to make sense of an alien world or concept by relating it to something familiar. They illuminate by association: here is how this world connects directly to that other, seemingly isolated world. Bridges also represent journeys between states of being, rather than just a means of get from A to B. For example, the Persian belief that people in the west are perhaps too far over on the prose side of the bridge, while the east is too drawn to the poetry side. If only we could meet in the middle, we might find a perfect balance of mind and body, of calculation and creativity.


That idea of two cultures stuck at either ends of the same bridges could be applied to art and business today. They need each other, despite their apparent differences; they are concerned with many of the same things, but that is obscured by their mutual suspicion. Perhaps a bit more metaphor and magic would be a start in changing this state of affairs. If arts practitioners and brands had the same big, captivating idea to focus on, cultural differences would be pushed to the side and more worthwhile collaborations would surely result.


Today’s most obvious examples of art and business overlap admirably, but they also thrive because of an uncomplicated fit between the audience for the brand and the artwork. Burberry and British music groups get mutual leverage through a shared sense of national style and sexy chic. Fashion labels from Cos to Cartier sponsor contemporary artists and art events because they all tap into a certain demographic’s sense of culture and credibility. Alcoholic beverage brands do the same. For the audience, it’s a circle that reaffirms your sense of taste and refinement. For the brand, it’s a bit of borrowed aura and credible press. For the artist, it’s a source of revenue for licensing their authentic personality and the right kind of exposure in a market where buzz is vital to value. (Photo credit: Where art and business overlap—Burberry’s collaboration with artists adds to the credibility of the brand. Photo courtesy of Felix Clay.)


Go beyond that kind of easy connection (which is really just an update of old-fashioned patronage) and it inevitably gets more complicated. As we know, business is about clarity and measurability, but art loves mystery and multiple interpretations. Artists cherish the right to free speech, but businesses seen to endorse an even mildly controversial message can be ruined by customer rage in the age of Twitter.


So it would take trust between a good artist and a good business, both fiercely protective and careful about their image, to embrace the potential risks on both sides and allow something really impressive to happen. But we could all start by ditching some of our preconceptions and being a bit more honest about how art and business are both about the discipline to execute impressive work, the need to engage people and the requirement to bring enough revenue to keep making things happen.


A few years ago, a major gallery director gave a short speech at a press launch of a new exhibition about cities. In it, he pleaded with the journalists to put the name of the show’s sponsor, a major building company, in their reviews. Many grumbled: if the sponsor was so vital, why didn’t they embrace the fact and incorporate its name into the title of the show, like modern football stadiums, instead of palming off the task to a third party?


More fruitful interchanges between the arts and businesses would be less likely to start with strategies and procedures than with conversations. Not everybody’s people talking to everybody’s people, but artists and their agents talking directly to brands and agencies about what they care about, what makes them cringe, what excites them, how they could use new technologies and respective resources to engage with audiences in new ways (and perhaps involve them better in the creative process).


If brand and artist know what they stand for, they should be able to find some common ground. Having the humility to know what you’re not cut out for, and the strength to focus on what you do well; to adapt and incorporate outside expertise to enable you to make your dreams reality: these are the ways human achievement has always come about. Art and entrepreneurialism are two expressions of one shared desire: to leave the world a little different than you found it.


(This post, originally published on, 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!)


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