Arts and business news from around the country.


More Workforce Millennials Means More Diversity (and Art!)

Posted by Danielle Iwata
More Workforce Millennials Means More Diversity (and Art!)


If you have millennials at your workplace, you need more diversity and inclusion.


And you need the arts.


Here at the pARTnership Movement, we’ve covered the expectations of the private sector taking a stand and ways the arts can tackle top CEO concerns. With a new report released by Deloitte and Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence, we’ve got even more reasons for your business to partner with the arts.


The Radical Transformation outlines differences in the way that millennials think about and engage with ideas of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Within the next six years, this population will comprise almost 75% of the workforce, meaning the way they define values of diversity and inclusion will require businesses to adapt.


According to the study, “83 percent of millennials are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture, compared to only 60 percent of millennials who are actively engaged when their organization does not foster an inclusive environment.” This engagement stems from the millennial perspective that diversity is more than representation of folks from various communities and identities. Rather, diversity is about connection, understanding, and respect—it is about using the different experiences and ideas to create spaces and teams that push business towards innovation. Likewise, millennials do not view inclusion as acceptance and tolerance like older generations. Instead, inclusion means a vested interest in collaborating across diverse communities.


The report also showed that “millennials are less satisfied with their workplaces than members of older generations, and many point to a lack of leader emphasis on cognitive diversity and inclusion as a cause.” Moreover, millennials change jobs approximately every two years. Creating environments that take cognitive diversity into account would not only lead to more innovation and problem solving, but higher rates of retention.


How, you may ask, do the arts play into this conversation around diversity, inclusion, and the millennial workforce?


Data from our Business Contributions to the Arts Survey, conducted in partnership with The Conference Board,  shows that “the arts can be an important component of diversity and inclusion strategies because of the opportunity to support the cultures of minority employees, presenting arts organizations with a strong opportunity to form meaningful partnerships.”


Moreover, the arts can be used in cross-cultural communication and understanding. Don’t believe us? Check out how limeSHIFT’s workshops are invigorating the workforce. “The arts make up a significant percentage of how humans communicate with each other and see each other…Becoming aware of others’ mode of operating is essential to our own success. Understanding our similarities and differences is the foundation on which one builds healthy relationships.”


Still don’t believe us? Ask Floyd Green III how Aetna “uses the arts to drive diversity and inclusion.” The company “value[s] 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 yet? Kindly refer to the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), who passed a resolution stating “that the United States Conference of Mayors reaffirms the value of the arts in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion; and … that the United States Conference of Mayors encourages businesses to leverage arts-based partnership to achieve internal and external diversity, equity and inclusion goals.”  


The bottom line is that businesses need to change. As millennials become more prominent in the workforce, businesses need to adapt to shifting definitions of diversity and inclusion. One of the best ways to do so is the arts. By engaging employees in meaningful arts training and experiences with a diversity and inclusion lens, companies can develop more innovative individuals, stronger teams, and better bottom lines.


Photo: cover page of Deloitte and Billie Jean King Report The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millenial Influence


Businesses Are Looking Towards the Arts for Employee Engagement & Creativity, According to New Survey by The Conference Board & Americans for the Arts

Posted by Emily Peck

Only 28 percent of companies attempted to measure the business or societal impact of arts contributions


Friday, June 30, 2017


NEW YORK, NY — As employee engagement becomes a priority for companies, many of them are turning to the arts in an effort to fuel attraction and retention, according to Business Contributions to the Arts: 2017 Edition, published by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts. Nearly 70 percent of companies surveyed responded that they offered board service opportunities at arts organizations for their employees, while 65 percent offered volunteer activities and 63 percent provided free or discounted tickets to arts events. However, measuring the business or societal impact of arts contributions continues to challenge most companies and their partners, as only 28 percent of businesses reported making an effort to measure these impacts.


“Engaged, creative employees who are encouraged to think in new, innovative ways are more likely to be productive and active in improving both the company and their own business skills,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “The arts build empathy, observation, and problem-identification and problem-solving skills, which translates to better customer service and a deeper understanding of the constituency.”


“Impact measurement has become increasingly important to the corporate philanthropy sector in recent years,” said Jonathan Spector, CEO, The Conference Board. “Our data shows, however, that measurement within the arts world has not advanced as successfully as other social causes. The benefits are clear, but companies and their arts partners need to become more sophisticated at demonstrating this in a business context.” 


Companies consider the arts to be important in building quality of life, stimulating creative thinking and problem solving, and offering networking opportunities and the potential to develop new business and build market share. As a result, arts organizations enjoyed a positive three years between 2013-2016 in terms of contributions from businesses, with the vast majority of companies either maintaining or increasing their arts support. 


The majority of arts contributions comes from philanthropy budgets—either foundations or corporate giving accounts. Ninety percent of companies reported giving to the arts through contributions budgets, but 41 percent of companies also supported the arts through marketing or sponsorship dollars, which can help to explain why there has not been a slowdown recently in overall contributions to the arts, as companies turn to the arts to support brand recognition and growth. 


Other findings from the report include:


  • More than half of respondents overall (53 percent) reported that arts support contributes to stimulating creative thinking and problem solving. Clearly, supporting the arts as a way to encourage creativity and innovation at companies is a growth area for arts and business partnerships.
  • Smaller companies demonstrated a greater interest in arts support than their larger counterparts. The percentage of arts giving in overall philanthropy budgets for small companies is approximately 20 percent higher than large companies.
  • Private sector funding could play an increasingly important role in getting resources to a sector that faces potential government cutbacks—the Trump Administration has threatened to cut the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In interviews, companies expressed an intention to increase their support of the NEA should these public funding decreases happen. In such a situation, companies expressed their intention to support arts at a local level.


About Business Contributions to the Arts: 2017 Edition

Since 1969, Americans for the Arts, through the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), has been conducting the BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts. The survey looks at trends in support for the arts from small, midsize, and large US businesses. For the first time since the initial BCA survey in 1969, Americans for the Arts has partnered with The Conference Board to conduct the online survey, building on previous findings to examine trends in business support and employee engagement for the arts. The survey draws on 125 responses from companies that participate in corporate philanthropy, employee engagement, volunteer programs, or sponsorships. The survey was conducted in the fall of 2016 and asked for information based on corporate practices existing at the time of the survey compilation. 


In addition to the quantitative survey, Americans for the Arts contracted with Shugoll Research to conduct qualitative research to understand businesses’ attitudes about arts philanthropy among current arts donors. A total of 15, 20-minute in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with philanthropic decision-makers at businesses that donate to the arts. The interviews took place between February 9, 2017 and February 24, 2017. The decision-makers were recruited from lists provided by the BCA. Quotes from these interviews are included throughout this report.


Americans for the Arts serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Founded in 1960, Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. Additional information is available at


The Conference Boardcreates and disseminates knowledge about management and the marketplace to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society. Working as a global, independent membership organization in the public interest, The Conference Board conducts research, convenes conferences, makes forecasts, assesses trends, publishes information and analysis, and brings executives together to learn from one another. Additional information is available at




The Conference Board

Jonathan Liu



Americans for the Arts 

Inga Vitols



2017 BCA Survey of Business Support for the Arts Webcast

Posted by Jessica Gaines

As employee engagement becomes a priority for companies, many of them are turning to the arts in an effort to fuel attraction and retention. The latest BCA Survey of Business Support for the Arts, Business Contributions to the Arts: 2017 Edition, looks at these trends in support for the arts from small, midsize, and large US businesses.


For the first time since 1969, Americans for the Arts has teamed up with The Conference Board to conduct the survey. In a FREE June 26 webcast at 3pm EST, the two partners will discuss brand new data that covers a range of topics, including trends in arts funding past and present, how arts fuels employee engagement, which companies are more inclined to support the arts and why, and measurement and impact. Learn more.


Emily Peck
Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives
Americans for the Arts

Emily Peck is Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives at Americans for the Arts. She is responsible for providing business and foundation leaders with the information, resources and strategies they need to better partner with and support the arts.

Mark Shugoll
Chief Executive Officer
Shugoll Research

Mark Shugoll, Ph.D. is CEO of Shugoll Research in Washington, DC, one of the nation’s leading marketing research companies for the arts. Its clients include a prestigious roster of nonprofit theaters, symphony orchestras, opera companies, dance companies, performing arts centers, museums, and more.

Alexander Parkinson(Moderator)
Senior Researcher and Associate Director, Society for New Communications Research (SNCR)
The Conference Board

Alex Parkinson is a senior researcher and associate director of the Society for New Communications Research of The Conference Board (SNCR). He specializes in corporate philanthropy and communications and marketing, and is the executive editor of Framing Social Impact Measurement.





The Company that Sings Together…

Posted by Jessica Gaines
The Company that Sings Together…

Chorus Connection’s Director of Marketing, Tori Cook, makes a great case for bringing together the altos, sopranos, and tenors in the workplace with the blog “Why Your Company Should Start an Employee Choir Immediately”.


She reminds us that singing in a choir can positively impact your psychological and physical health with strong feelings of improved social wellbeing, reduced stress, increased life expectancy, and more.


Tori interviewed a variety of people that have successfully implemented employee choirs including a CEO whose mission is to help businesses start a choir. She also interviewed Americans for the Arts Jordan Shue, Private Sector Initiatives Program Manager.


Here is a summary of Tori’s findings regarding the Benefits of Having an Employee Choir--


Enhances Employee Engagement

Jordan Shue stated, "[An employee choir] is a way to show employees that you value them and want them to have fun at work. It also challenges them to show their creative sides and work as a team on a project vastly different from what they do in the office day-to-day. That can have a huge impact on the way they work together in the future and how connected they feel to their company." 


Strengthens Employee Recruitment and Retention

Shue offered, "For companies that struggle with retaining employees, the arts can be used as a way to engage personally with your employees, showing that they want to nurture human and creative connections that may not have anything to do with their work directly, but [will] impact their happiness and wellbeing."


Improves Employee Bonding, Teamwork, and Relationships


Provides Networking Opportunities Within the Company


Breaks Down Hierarchical Barriers


Builds Leadership Skills and Inspires Innovation

Shue really hit home when she said a company choir can, "help jumpstart the employees' creative and innovative thinking that can help drive business. Research shows that creativity is among the top applied skills sought by employers, but companies need to develop the channels and environments through which employees can experiment creatively to jumpstart innovative thinking. The arts are the perfect answer."


Gives Employees Opportunities to Try Something New


Relieves Stress


Establishes an Appreciation for the Arts

Shue offered some advice, "There are endless ways to infuse creativity into the workplace: give concert tickets to your employees (like many companies do with sports tickets), schedule an improv workshop to help your employees build confidence when speaking, or check out The pARTnership Movement for more tips and ideas for engaging your employees through the arts."


And there just may be more company choirs than you realized. In the blog alone, the following company choirs are mentioned:



It should be noted, many of these companies with choirs (Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook) all appear on the “Best Places to Work” list.



Full blog can be found here.


To download the eBook How to Start an Employee Choir in 8 Steps, go here.


Photo: Boeing Employees' Choir


Elevate the Work and the Walls

Posted by Jessica Gaines



When a company wants to say thanks and show appreciation to its employees, many companies consider office art competitions, corporate art collections, or staff-curated “The Best of Instagram” galleries for their break room. (Like 2016 BCA 10 winner’s employee Instagram wall above.)


Another way for a company to show that it cares and put creativity at the forefront of the work environment is by including art and creativity in the office design. Sounds easy! Let’s dive into some imaginative and inspired office looks:



Boldness and Distinction

Making a statement that sets a 

tone for the rest of the office

and work experience.









Photo: Courtesy Katz Interiors



Flexibility - Create areas that serve dual purposes (meeting areas or lounges) and by using less desks, can transition to spaces for future employees, contractors, interns, and more. Also, standing desks are begging to make your employees better thinkers!



Photo: Jasper Sandid



Greenery - Sometimes office creativity isn’t about crazy carpets and bright paint. Adding plant life as décor or even a living garden wall can amp up the employee engagement opportunities.




Photo: Franciso Nogueira


Sometimes office enhancements are as simple as unique and better lighting or hiring local artists to paint colorful murals. Anyone of these fresh looks are great ways to get employees and leadership in touch beyond the work. Employing artistic elements to establish an exceptional corporate culture and identity is a great way to elevate the work and the walls.


Top Photo: 2016 BCA 10 winner’s employee Instagram wall


Valuable and Unique Essays on Business and Arts pARTnerships

Posted by Jessica Gaines



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  


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


Using Business to Build the Leadership Pipeline in the Arts

Posted by Jessica Gaines

In the story “Packaging Your Impact: How Con Edison Engages Its Employees through the ABC/NY Diversity in the Arts Leadership Program” we learned a lot about mutually beneficial arts-based partnerships.


We learned that the program promotes diversity: Hosted by Arts & Business Council of New York (ABC/NY), the Diversity in the Arts Leadership (DIAL) program promotes diversity in the arts management field by placing undergraduate students of color in summer internship experiences at many of NYCs coveted arts and culture organizations.


We also learned that the program supports employee engagement: The DIAL program doubles as an arts-based platform to engage corporate employees at Con Edison, energy provider to NYC and Westchester County. Not only does Con Edison financially subsidize the intern stipends for the summer and provide in-kind event space but their employees have volunteered their personal time to fill two-thirds of the student’s business mentor roles.


Con Edison Project Specialist and DIAL mentor, Elizabeth Matias, shares, “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”.


The program’s ability to help Con Edison employees put their company in the spotlight and also develop more experienced and better prepared student for arts leadership makes this program a successful archetype of mutual benefit partnerships for both sectors.


ABC/NY and Con Edison will go into their 17th year as partners on this program but the program boasts 25 years strong. In these 25 years, the program has placed more than 230 students from across the country into 110 arts nonprofit organizations in NYC to develop leadership in the business of the arts.


The program is now open for undergraduate student applications from anywhere in the country. Priority Application Deadline: January 27, 2017   |   Final Deadline: February 10, 2017


Photo: ABC/NY


Solving Problems and Challenging the Status Quo with pARTnerships

Posted by Jessica Gaines

When entering a new year, many individuals and businesses alike desire a fresh start.  In personal lives, the changes may appear in a new diet or workout routine while at work it may be goal setting or performance evaluations.  Keeping with the idea of crafting new habits and letting go of outdated approaches, there’s a space for the arts to help advance goals by solving some of yesterday’s problems and challenging the “modus operindi”.


These three highlights below are a quick reminder of the possibilities of art and business partnerships that are successful and purposeful.


In the work environment, consider that working solely for productivity can become lackluster.

A company or industry that is technology-heavy or project-focused, may find that team performance needs a boost. Altering a method, adding Arts into STEM to become STEAM, can improve the process for businesses grounded in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math. One thing that Denis Lacasse, leader in web, software, and gaming fields, and his team instituted was bringing together employees of different disciplines and backgrounds. When these new teams, comprised of artists, game designers, and engineers, worked together their productivity and zeal increased due to their common connection of being passionate gamers focused on an end goal.


Consider that people want to live and work in a vibrant community.

In one Philadelphia neighborhood, there was a general understanding that the area was not safe at night, even with street lights. Although near a bustling bar and cheesesteak restaurant scene, the late-night hours of the neighborhood were either extremely desolate or filled with prostitution, underage drinking and dumping trash. Lighting designer Drew Billiau and mural artist David Guinn were able to pilot glowing street-art-styled murals on a few homes which began a neighborhood transformation all its own. Although there was reluctance from some neighbors in the beginning, the success of the initial glowing murals cultivated enough support to add more on the street for increased safety.


Consider that internal culture and external messaging often get old and stale. 

When seeking a way to renew a message (either internally to employees or externally to the public), remember to integrate the arts as a business asset.  By using Arts-Based Initiatives, “businesses can generate value from existing relationships with the arts, as well as an opportunity to establish new relationships, by exploiting the knowledge and skills within the sector for their own competitive advantage.” Investment firm, Scottish Windows, did just that by developing an Arts@Work program that injected arts into company culture and employees reported increased productivity and business benefits.  ABI's are suited for enhancing company messaging and company culture to overall posivitely affect business objectives and strategies. 


More information on bringing the arts into a business approach can be found in the pARTnership Movement essays


If you know of a business successfully pARTnering with the arts, please nominate them for the 2017 BCA: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts. Nomiations close January 13, 2017.


Photo credit: Fast Company


Dancing Through the Afternoon Slump

Posted by Melyssa Muro

More often than not, we aren’t running on all cylinders when 3pm rolls around—or at least, not running with the same amount of energy we had after that morning coffee. While the temptation to grab another caffeine-fueled cup is high, some companies have taken to adopting the arts into lunchtime practices to keep employees engaged and energized. Taking a quick break to get your body moving has proven to revitalize employees for a more productive afternoon, and we all know the arts are a surefire way to recruit and retain employees.


United Shore, the mortgage lender, holds 10-minute dance parties every Thursday afternoon; in fact, they have a dance floor that can fit over 100 people for just this occasion. CEO Mat Ishbia gladly participates, because he believes that “the dance parties give them a little break to get up, reenergize themselves, and get back to their day. That energy helps them stay focused."


Taking the dance party to the next level are Lunch Breaks, lunchtime dance parties by Flavorpill and Perrier in cities such as NYC, Miami, Chicago, and LA. The midday party series provides a live DJ and a free cocktail for employees to dance their lunch hour away—and even offers a classic bagged lunch as you head back to the office. Past guest DJs of this one-hour special event have included DJ Questlove, Autograf, Penguin Prison, and other big names. In addition to paving the way for a more productive afternoon, the creative practice of office dance parties helps to engage employees with one another and foster a sense of camaraderie among staff.


For a more low-key setting, or for those employees who may not be comfortable with the idea of busting a move in the office, incorporates Amy Cuddy’s power pose theory. Members utilize the company conference room to stretch, move, and engage in a bit of role-playing to feel more powerful. Cuddy’s research suggests that stretching your body out and holding power poses (think superman) increases testosterone levels and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone).


A CBS report stated: “Believe it or not, [Cuddy’s] studies show that if you stand like a superhero privately before going into a stressful situation, there will actually be hormonal changes in your body chemistry that cause you to be more confident and in-command…[M]ake no mistake, Cuddy’s work is grounded in science.” Grounded in science, but driven by a little bit of creativity and imagination…


Photo courtesy of Fast Company.


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