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How Businesses Have Used the Arts to Engage Muslim Communities

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

 

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

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

 

Wasl Properties, Dubai – Photography Competition

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

  

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Cultural Districts Opens Doors to Economic Opportunity

Posted by Mariama Holman
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Cultural Districts Opens Doors to Economic Opportunity

What exactly is a cultural district, and why does it matter to businesses and communities?

 

Cultural districts leverage a unique resource or talent available within the community (a sustainable competitive advantage) to serve as a focal point for branding a city’s unique cultural identity and historical significance. 

 

Better branding leads to stronger differentiation from the surrounding community, which assists and supports the marketing of local businesses and nonprofit cultural organizations.

 

When contentiously utilized, a community’s culture and history does not just gather cobwebs in a textbook, but impacts future cash flow for city coffers and local business owners.

 

Per the National Cultural Districts Exchange Toolkit, cultural districts have a significant economic impact on cities, especially growing small businesses. As demonstrated by the  2017 Business Contributions to the Arts Survey, this could be why small businesses contribute a larger percentage of their philanthropy budgets to the arts.


The impacts of cultural districts on the business community are well documented in The Arts as a Strategy for Revitalizing Our Cities.

 

Take for instance, the example of The Warehouse Arts District in Tucson, Arizona and the Pittsburgh Cultural District. Three years after the establishment of the Tucson Arts District, there was a 23 percent increase in new businesses. Furthermore, 54 percent of businesses in the district increased their sales volume.

 

The Pittsburgh Cultural District generated $115 million in commercial activity via $33 million in public investment and $63 million in private and philanthropic funds within the first decade of operation.

 

The Oakland Black Arts and Movement Business District is now in the running to be recognized as a cultural and historical site in the State of California, an opportunity that could repeat the economic successes of earlier cultural districts across America. The state council recently selected the area as one of 22 semifinalists to be considered for the “California Cultural District” designation.

 

Oakland’s cultural district contains more than 20 small businesses and cultural spaces that have been serving the community for decades, including the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, Joyce Gordon Gallery and Geoffrey’s Inner Circle Club, a community music venue operating since the 1970s known for hosting music legends such as Wynton Marsalis and Phyllis Hyman. The district also features the Oakland African-American Chamber of Commerce and the Oakland Cultural Center.

 

Economic and community development initiatives in the East Bay area are especially important as the San Francisco affordable housing crisis continues, leaving many residents in search of  a better quality of life in the suburbs. Oakland suffered a 25 percent decline in African-American residents in the past decade, losing approximately 33,000 residents per the U.S. Census.  

 

Marvin X, one of the Oakland Black Arts Movement Business District founders, says “the district can add a whole lot of equity and tourism to the city.”

 

As seen by prior cultural district examples, through fostering the arts and culture sector the “California Cultural District” designation could create a stronger economic future for Oakland’s residents. 

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Corporate Diversity ARTSBlog Series

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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In this series from Americans for the Arts, four ARTSBlogs approach equity, diversity, and inclusion, with the arts as a contributor towards resolution. Below are excerpts from the ARTSBlogs. Click on each title to be taken to the full blog.

 

1. “Diversity + Inclusion = A Winning Strategy” by Floyd Green

 

We [Aetna] value art so highly because it brings a different perspective to traditional “training.” It helps to connect our employees to ideas in a creative and organic way. Not everyone responds and processes training in the same way. In order for everyone to get to the finish line, we have to meet people where they are. The arts allow this to happen, and will take them on the journey to where they want to be. The more we use the arts, the more we’ll reach innovation and imagination; the more people are able to come together without fear, be safe and comfortable, and express how they’re feeling.

Full ARTSBlog here.

 

Floyd W. Green, III is Vice President and head of Community Relations and Urban Marketing for Aetna, Inc. and is also on the Board of Directors for Americans for the Arts.

***

 

2. “A Win-Win Culture: How Inclusivity Drives Innovation in the Business World” by Elizabeth Thys and Yazmany Arboleda

 

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

 

This blog highlights the idea that cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture is a win-win for companies and shows three ways that diversity and inclusion drive innovation:

 
  1. Employee Resource Groups: Based on the company’s internal LGTB Employee Resource Groups, Clorox’s Burt’s Bees® launched its first LGTB-targeted product. Miriam Lewis, Principal Consultant, HR, noted that “inclusion equals innovation.”
  2. Knowledge Management
  3. Diverse Employee Perspectives

 

Full ARTSBlog here.

 

Elizabeth Thys is CEO and co-founder of limeSHIFT and Yazmany Arboleda is a New York-based public artist who lectures internationally on the power of art in public space.

***

 

3. “Am I What You’re Looking For?” by Catherine Heitz New

 

In 2016, we were inspired by an innovative collaboration between Wells Fargo and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA). As part of their 12x12 series, SECCA featured an exhibition of works by photographer Endia Beal entitled Am I What You’re Looking For?, which portrays young, black women as they contemplate their identities in the often-competing contexts of self and career. Endia Beal is a North Carolina-based artist, educator, and activist, who is internationally known for her photographic narratives and video testimonies that examine the personal, yet contemporary stories of minority women working within the corporate space.

Full ARTSBlog here.

 

Catherine Heitz New is Chief Advancement Officer and Deputy Director of The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

***

 

4. “Driving Diversity Through Board Service” by Alexandra Hallock

 

In what ways does your organization wish to deepen board diversity?

 

That was one of the critical questions we asked while ramping up for the most recent round of BoardLead. BoardLead is the primary program of Cause Strategy Partners, LLC that strengthens social good organizations by recruiting, placing, training and supporting talented professionals from top companies for high-impact board service. Through a partnership with The New York Community Trust, BoardLead Arts NYC was created to help small to medium sized nonprofit arts organizations elevate, diversify, and transform board leadership. Goldman Sachs, Google, and MasterCard partnered with BoardLead to make board placement opportunities available to high potential and diverse employees.

Full ARTSBlog here.

 

Alexandra Hallock is a Consultant of Cause Strategy Partners, a purpose-driven social enterprise that believes in harnessing the power of business for social good.

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Emphasizing Inclusion with the Arts

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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Emphasizing Inclusion with the Arts

The pARTnership Movement essay “Embrace Diversity & Team Building” brings to light how the arts can assist in enhancing a company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. BCA 10 winner U.S. Bank shows how to be a leader in this area.

 

In celebration of and support for the LGBT community and to highlight the bank’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion, the company held the LGBT Debit Card Art Contest where they asked artists to submit art in any medium that celebrated the LGBT community. The contest would allow three finalists with the winner receiving $7,500 and that design becoming one of U.S. Bank’s permanent card designs. The runner-up received $5,000 and the third-prize winner received $2,500.

 

Ann Dyste, assistant vice president and LGBT strategy manager at U.S. Bank says, "We believe the three winning designs all honored equality, progress and unity, and we wanted to leave the final decision up to the public, so their voices could be heard."

 

After 400 design submissions, the public selected Olivia Ogba, ER medical transcriptionist preparing for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), as the winner with the card design shown above. Ogba’s design is connected to the June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage was legal nationwide. The digital painting is purposefully patriotic, featuring rainbow colors shooting from sparklers on the Fourth of July. "That's what America stands for – the ability for everyone to go after the American dream without any sort of discrimination," Ogba said.

 

As the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States, U.S. Bank has made strong commitments to increase outreach to the LGBT community. This national art competition helps reiterate their corporate message of inclusion along with sponsoring Pride festivities and LGBT organizations across the country, making the bank a “Best Place to Work for LBGT Equality” for 10 years in a row.

 

“We want employees and prospective hires to know that U.S. Bank is an open and inclusive workplace where all are welcome," said Eduardo Sayan, U.S. Bank vice president and director of multicultural strategy. 

 

Learn more about the finalists and the card art competition here.

 

Photo: U.S. Bank

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Classical Movements Uses a Fellowship to Encourage Diversity and Promote Access

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Classical Movements Uses a Fellowship to Encourage Diversity and Promote Access

BCA 10 honoree Classical Movements is driven by a love for music and the performing arts. The company arranges more than 50 concert tours per year for choirs, youth orchestras, and professional ensembles to more than 140 countries around the world. Yet, while working in nearly 145 countries across seven continents, during Classical Movements’ 25 years of business, India has remained a rare musical destination.

 

For Founder & President Neeta Helms, growing up in India she observed that there was a tiny population of people there who loved Western classical music. More recently, though, perhaps due to increased globalization and/or the larger number of Indians studying abroad, Helms came to realize that India’s interest in Western classical music has been steadily growing. In fact, the Shillong Chamber Choir, a Western-style singing group founded only in 2010, won top prize on the popular television competition India’s Got Talent.

 

 

Despite that ever-increasing number of music schools for children, in India today, there is no university course that teaches choral singing, or even a program to teach teachers how to teach choral music. “When I visited my homeland in December of 2015… I was struck by how many Indian singers were want for vocal training, desperately seeking skilled teachers to come and teach and conduct,” Helms shares.

 

January 2016, Classical Movements made a big announcement, calling for choral luminaries to go on retreat in India. In January 2017, Classical Movements has officially launched the India Choral Fellowship (ICF), featuring award-winning singer, conductor and educator Kevin Fox as its inaugural recipient engaging the cities of New Delhi Mumbai and Chennai.

 

With Classical Movements’ ICF, Helms hopes to help inspire future Indian musicians blend with the ancient traditions and forge a new horizon for classical music in India.

 

More stories on businesses using the arts to encourage diversity can be found in the pARTnership Movement essay “Embrace Diversity & Team Building”.

 

Want more on this topic from another corporate leader? Read “Diversity + Inclusion = A Winning Strategy” from Floyd W. Green, III, Vice President and head of Community Relations and Urban Marketing for Aetna, 2016 BCA Hall of Fame and 2011 BCA 10 honoree.

 

Photo: Headshot courtesy Classical Movements. Group photo courtesy Shillong Chamber Choir.

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Celebrating Culture Through Art

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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Valuable and Unique Essays on Business and Arts pARTnerships

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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All across the country, today’s most innovative businesses are using the arts to help them meet some of their most difficult and vital objectives. Americans for the Arts is proud to announce the complete pARTnership Movement essay series. These eight essays, with case studies that profile successful business-arts relationships, illustrate one of the 8 reasons businesses partner with the arts and are available here on The pARTnership Movement website. Click on a thumbnail above to download each essay.

 

Recruit and Retain Talent

Make your community – and your company – more attractive to current and future employees by partnering with arts organizations to create a vibrant cultural scene.

 

Put Your Company in the Spotlight

Build your market share, enhance your brand, and reach new customers by partnering with the arts to put your business in the spotlight.

 

Advance Corporate Objectives & Strategies

Use the arts to communicate important messages to customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

 

Foster Critical Thinking

Help employees stimulate the critical thinking needed to advance business goals by partnering with the arts.

 

Engage Your Employees

Use arts partnerships to inspire and engage employees so that they are able to achieve their full potential.

 

Embrace Diversity & Team Building

Facilitate the creation of a strong corporate culture that fosters creativity while providing opportunities for employees to strengthen interdepartmental relationships, exchange ideas and broaden their networks.

 

Say Thanks

Inspire your employees by providing access to arts experiences that show your appreciation for their contributions.

 

Contribute to the Economy & Quality of Life

The arts create jobs, spur urban renewal, attract new businesses, generate tourism revenue, and foster an environment that appeals to a skilled and educated workforce. By partnering with arts organizations, you can strengthen the health and vitality of our neighborhoods, cities, states, and nation.

 

 

For more information or to share your arts and business partnerships with Americans for the Arts pARTnership Movement, contact BCA Coordinator Jessica Gaines at  bca@artsusa.org.  

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An Environment of Convergence

Posted by Melyssa Muro
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An Environment of Convergence

Conversations surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion are currently affecting almost every industry.  From tech to home sharing, leaders are approaching new ways to engage employees, thwart exclusion, and consider people on the margins within their work environments and also within their communities. 

 

So, how are leaders approaching this area as it effects the arts and culture sector?

 

MoMA’s president emerita, Agnes Gund, has worked to diversify the scope of the museum, stating, “We serve a population.” In other words, the works should reflect the range of the population served.

 

To fulfill this need for diverse works, Gund reached out to individuals like AC Hudgins, who joined the board of directors in 2012. He has since contributed his collected works, including pieces by David Hammons, Henry Taylor, Senga Nengudi, and more, and in doing so, has enhanced the exchange of ideas from those with differing backgrounds. By housing these works down the hall from those of Van Gogh and Dali, MoMA cultivates an environment of convergence. In this way, Hudgins’ additions are immensely appreciated; as his friend and colleague Marie-Josee Kravis frames it, “[W]e have three million visitors a year… We have to be an agora, not a temple.”

 

Hudgins, as well as many leaders of color within boards, brings in diverse art and draws in a wider and newly engaged audience. As art and culture leaders work to close the gap between neighborhoods and lifestyle, they always keep at top of mind that the arts are the bridge that transcend that gap.

 

Photo: MoMA. Marino Miculan courtesy of Flickr.

Some rights reserved.

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Americans for the Arts Releases Seventh pARTnership Movement Essay: Embrace Diversity & Team Building

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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Americans for the Arts is proud to announce the seventh installment in the pARTnership movement essay titled Embrace Diversity & Team Building.

 

Each essay in the series, started in June 2015, illustrates one of The pARTnership Movement’s 8 reasons businesses partner with the arts, and has been a key tool in motivating and guiding sustainable, symbiotic partnerships between businesses and the arts. This essay focuses on how you can use the arts to embrace diversity and team building with employees. The essay features case studies from Travelers in Minneapolis and ShoreTel in Sunnyvale, CA.

 

To view and download our Embrace Diversity & Team Building essay and the rest of The pARTnership Movement’s essays, visit www.partnershipmovement.org.

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Packaging Your Impact: How Con Edison Engages Its Employees through the ABC/NY Diversity in Arts Leadership Program

Posted by Emma Osore
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Packaging Your Impact: How Con Edison Engages Its Employees through the ABC/NY Diversity in Arts Leadership Program

At first glance, the Arts and Business Council of New York’s (ABC/NY) Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) internship program looks like your typical summer arts internship: undergraduates descend on the city and ABC/NY helps them get their foot in the door of one of NYCs coveted arts and culture sector organizations.

 

However, you might not guess that DIAL doubles as an arts-based platform to engage employees in the corporate sector. Huh? How?

 

The Diversity in Arts Leadership Program (DIAL) (formerly the Multicultural Arts Management) internship program was created by the Arts & Business Council of New York in 1988 to promote diversity in the arts management field.

 

Con Edison, energy provider to NYC and Westchester County, is a 16-year partner of ABC/NY and funder of over $2.54 million annually in arts and culture funding. They also recognize the value of fostering a corporate culture of community involvement and helping employees develop new skills through nonprofit partnerships. Not only do they financially subsidize Diversity in Arts Leadership intern stipends for the summer and provide in-kind event space, but also - here’s the added bonus - their employees have volunteered their personal time to fill two-thirds of DIALs business mentor roles.

 

Elizabeth Matias, Con Edison Project Specialist and DIAL mentor, reports that she can clearly see Con Edison’s commitment to the neighborhoods and communities they serve come full circle - “Con Edison has built an incredible platform to engage its employees and I take pride in the interdisciplinary partnership and the opportunity to bridge my skills in arts and business. As a former dancer, the Diversity in Arts Leadership program embodies my belief of how arts and business can go hand-in-hand”. She credits her mentorship role as a main contributor to her satisfaction as an employee of Con Edison and cited that a corporate volunteer program like Con Edison’s would be a top consideration for her if she ever moved to another company. 

 

Not only does Con Edison’s business mentor commitment strengthen the capacity of a young leader but it also strengthens their own business goals and engages their employees in a meaningful way. In the current workforce climate where the research tells us that that low employee engagement is a business crisis, that baby boomer leaders are looking for opportunities to pass along leadership, and that corporate philanthropy is one of the best ways to retain employees, Con Edison has been in the lead on addressing these workforce issues of our day.

 

The Diversity in Arts Leadership program is an incredible example of a fully integrated partnership between an arts organization and a corporation that not only invests in the arts community and develops leadership in arts and business interns of color but, in its own employees - which ultimately affect its bottom line.

 

Companies wanting to create similar ecosystems that have long lasting benefits should consider the following tips from experts on how to select and promote initiatives like this one that fit a company’s culture, community, and budget:

 

Stay local. Focusing on worthy programs in the cities where a company operates will attract more attention from local talent and create authentic opportunities to talk about the company’s work in the community.- Steven Lindner, executive partner with The Workplace Group, a recruitment process outsourcing company based in Florham Park, New Jersey.

 

Don’t just write a check. Provide employees opportunities to volunteer their time and participate in the giving. “Employees value the opportunity to get involved, and they love to share those experiences on social media,” It is an organic way to get your CSR story out there and have a strong community presence. - Anna Turner, vice president of product management for PeopleMatter, a workforce management software provider in Charleston, South Carolina.

 

Let employees choose. When employees are involved in selecting CSR programs, they will be more engaged in the experience. “They become ambassadors for the program and your brand.” - Ryan McCarty, director of community and employee engagement at TCC, a Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer.

 

Don’t attach marketing to CSR. “People don’t like to be sold to, but if you just talk about what you believe in, like-minded people will gravitate your way.” - Steven Lindner, The Workplace Group

 

Check Out ABC/NYs Matching Portal to learn more about how your company can engage employees through the arts in NYC – surprising things come in unassuming packages.

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