Arts and business news from around the country.


A Theatre Company in Good Company

Posted by Danielle Iwata
A Theatre Company in Good Company

Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company


The Tony Award-winning director founded the eponymous organization in 2002 with a mission “to celebrate the rich tradition of black storytelling while giving voice to bold new artists of all cultures.” Since its founding, the theatre company has not only produced remarkable shows, but it has become an integral part of Atlanta’s community. True Colors has partnered with businesses throughout the city, including past BCA 10 honoree Turner Broadcasting, Coca-Cola, and State Farm.


Turner Broadcasting Systems

Turner Broadcasting has been a sponsor of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company since 2007. Through the Turner Voices Program, that “strategically invests in community arts and culture and youth development,” the company has become a vital part in “developing a pipeline of future storytellers and talent.”


Turner’s engagement with True Colors Theatre Company extends far beyond one hallmark program.  Three Turner employees sit on the Board of Directors, including the Board President. These connections inspire deeper involvement within the arts and the community. In addition to board leadership, the company promotes performances to their employee base through digital e-boards and a corporate responsibility newsletter, who then receive discounts to shows. True Colors even produces programming specifically for Turner Broadcasting: for one performance each season, they can invite up to 300 employees to attend a dress rehearsal. This is not only a way for the company to show gratitude to its staff by providing an opportunity to attend the rehearsal, but it helps promote the performance by word of mouth. Employees who see the show in previews spread the word among the office and the community.


The theatre company also partners with Business Resource Groups (BRG), particularly with Black Professionals at Turner (BP@T) to bring together local actors and directors with Turner Broadcasting Systems employees. By exposing the Turner creative teams to other creatives in the community, everyone can learn from each other’s experiences.


With an abundance of opportunities for the Atlanta staff to interact with artists, employees in the New York City office wanted a piece of the fun. This past spring, Kenny Leon directed the revival of Children of a Lesser God, which ran at Studio 54 from March-May 2018. Leon hosted a lunch and learn for the New York City Office, an exciting opportunity for employees to meet a Tony Award-winning director and a chance for Leon to spread the word about the production.


Turner Broadcasting Systems will receive the Abundance Award at True Colors Applauds Awards Brunch in 2019, given to a corporation for its outstanding support of the arts community.


Corporate BRGs

True Colors has also partnered with other companies like Coca-Cola to celebrate Black History Month. It presented a scene from August Wilson’s King Hedley II to the African American Resource Group at a gathering with foods celebrating the African American experience.


Jamil Jude, Associate Artistic Director, introducing the cast of King Hedley II at Coca-Cola. Photo by LaTeshia Ellerson, courtesy Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company


Community Engagement

Though not a sponsor, State Farm has been active in ensuring their employees are engaged in the local community. Director of Education, Nikki Toombs, will be directing a montage performance featuring some of our students from the August Wilson Monologue Competition. There will be singing, monologues and movement in the montage.


Main photo: Nina Simone: Four Women by Christiana Ham & Directed by Michele Shay. L-R: Wendy Fox Williams, Regina Marie Williams, Adrienne Reynolds, and Jordan Frazier. Photo by Greg Mooney, courtesy Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre


BCA 10 Spotlight: Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, Georgia

Posted by Mariama Holman
BCA 10 Spotlight: Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, Georgia

Turner Voices, our company’s signature corporate philanthropy program, marries our deep ties to our Atlanta hometown with our commitment to next-generation storytellers and their power to impact our community in profoundly positive ways.”

-Phil Kent, CEO and Chairman, Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc.


Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. believes that a community filled with the arts fosters creativity in the workplace and drives business. With creativity and innovation at the forefront of the company’s focus, Turner Broadcasting makes the arts a top priority. The company is working to make Atlanta, home to Turner Broadcasting headquarters, a creative city by supporting a wide range of nonprofit organizations that involve emerging works, artists, and programming. The company received a 2013 BCA 10 Award, nominated by the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.


Dedicating 50% of its philanthropic support to the arts, Turner Broadcasting has made more than $25 million in financial contributions over the last 19 years, and regularly gives back through volunteerism, in-kind gifts, and promotions.  Recognizing the skills of its employees as major assets for both the company and the community, Turner Broadcasting strategically utilizes its personnel to work with area arts organizations with the goal of creating change and making a difference. As an example, Turner Studios has partnered with arts organizations to create public service announcements, helping with fundraising and promotions on local television networks. Turner also promotes its nonprofit partner organizations’ upcoming shows and offers discounts to its thousands of employees.


Turner Broadcasting invests significant time, effort, and resources to help employees interact with the arts. The company consistently brings the arts to its main campus for employees’ enjoyment.  Turner has hosted performances from the Atlanta Symphony, guest speakers from the “Atlanta Celebrates Photography” exhibit, and an annual holiday performance by local theatre groups.  Turner also holds employee events and outings at area arts organizations and uses artwork from VSA Arts of Georgia to line the hallways of its headquarters. For the past four years, Turner has held a holiday art fair for VSA Arts, selling artwork from disabled or economically disadvantaged artists. The company has also contracted with arts organizations for skills-based trainings that improve team building and creativity among employees.


Volunteerism is a large focus in the Turner Broadcasting culture. Each employee receives 40 hours paid time off annually to volunteer. The company actively seeks volunteer opportunities with its arts partners, promoting them to employees through daily e-mails. Through a board placement program, the company offers training in nonprofit board service and matches each participant with an area organization. Once an employee has given 30 hours of volunteer service to an arts organization, Turner will provide up to $500 from its Volunteer Grants Program. The company also has a Matching Grants Program, matching each employee’s contribution to arts organizations and other qualified nonprofits.


Turner creates true partnerships with arts organizations, meeting with them regularly to review the most strategic ways in which they can help each other. The company is proactive in supporting and creating arts-related activities and focuses a great deal on innovation, experimental art and programs that help area youth.


Photo: Students from Atlanta Public Schools enjoying the Turner-supported City of Atlanta’s Cultural Experience Project


Support the arts! It matters in real estate!

Posted by Rodney Camren

Listen closely please; do you hear those words of a famous quote from Shakespeare in your community? Look over there; do you see a young lady in a white leotard elegantly positioned on just one toe? Is your breath taken away from the musical notes and talents of the lyrical soprano singing effortlessly on stage?


Or do your spirit, mind and body travel to unknown worlds when engulfed by the combination of horns, keys and drums playing in a symphony? Do you tear up, laugh or get angry over shades of paint arranged by brushes? Well you should, not only for cultural awareness but for real estate value as well.


When communities invest in the arts they are fueling economic growth, creating jobs, increasing property values and making their communities more attractive to young professionals who want to start a career or business, a family and home environment and are increasingly driven by quality of life and cultural amenities in their cities of choice. The most famous of theatre districts of course is Broadway! “Besides New York, the popularity of Broadway theatre has spread to Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities in the US. It is the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. It is followed by West End theatre in London,” stated by Author David Corn. He also states that Ticket sales on Broadway exceed 1.5 billion dollars annually.


The Woodruff Arts Center’s in Downtown Atlanta is one of the nation’s largest arts institutions. This year’s record campaign goal is $9.5 million, representing approximately 10% of the Woodruff Art Center’s overall operating budget. Detached Homes being sold in a one mile radius of the Woodruff Arts Center cap out at $3.5 million and when you consider those homes attached such as condo’s and townhomes well you get top dollar at $1.8 million.

Closer to the Gwinnett Community we have in Norcross the Lionheart Theatre in College Street Playhouse where housing in the immediate Downtown community will command a top dollar price of $650,000 for 4,000 square foot home, the most for any downtown community in all 16 cities Gwinnett County.

Lawrenceville Georgia is on the fast track to becoming the center of the arts world for Gwinnett County with the Aurora Theatre and The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre leading the helm. The city’s downtown has been redeveloped with the help of past & current elected leaders encouraging the arts, developers building new housing, and community support for the Gwinnett Medical Center, Georgia Gwinnett College & Gwinnett Technical College. The Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts (formerly the Arts Council) started in Lawrenceville and has moved several times growing into what is a beautiful Center off Sugarloaf Parkway. From the Hudgens website, the original 14,000 sq ft Hudgens Center for the Arts featured 4,000 sq ft of gallery space, a large education department, and an additional 28,000 sq ft comprising the Al Weeks Sculpture Garden, which graces the eastern side of the building. Enormous commitment and energy was expended in raising private funds to build the Center and to create the accompanying endowment. In 2000, an additional 20,000 sq ft of galleries, classrooms and performance space was added to the Center, bringing it up to the current size and configuration.


According to the Americans for the Arts study, the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences in the City of Atlanta, GA (Fiscal Year 2010) are as follows:


  • Total Industry Expenditures $299,983,072
  • Full Time Jobs Equivalent 9,424
  • Household Income paid to Residents $232,223,000
  • Revenue Generated for Local Government $14,190,000
  • Revenue Generated for State Government $13,276,000

Spending by Arts and Culture Organizations and their audiences supports jobs and generates government revenue in which, people want to live close to work and in turn helps the housing market for local communities.


Business Insider did an article in June 2013 about the historic east Atlanta neighborhood called Edgewood Avenue. “This Artist Co-Op Is Transforming Abandoned Atlanta Neighborhoods Into Prime Real Estate." Once abandoned buildings now are at full capacity with both commercial businesses and residents all because of supporting the Arts. Once an area has heightened cultural activity, people with money tend to become more interested in it. But culture does more than draw wealth; it can also draw workers, improving an area's job market and thus its economy. "Being a cultural center also helps local businesses attract employees who want to be able to regularly go to the ballet or the theater, hear authors read from their latest books or attend art-gallery openings," according to BusinessWeek.


So as a resident and business owner in a community you should want to be involved with the Arts in your area. How do you do that?


1) You can volunteer. There is always extra work that needs to be done and many hands make light work.

2) You can buy season tickets; season tickets ensure your continued support and help you to commit to attending upcoming shows. They are also great gift ideas for the holidays, client appreciation and just thinking of you moments.

3) Advertise with your local arts if you are a small business owner, they always have opportunities with each and every show or exhibit they put together.

4) Donate financially to their efforts. Most if not all of these options are tax-deductible.


(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.)


Arts Integral to Community Success

Posted by Marilyn Wolf Ragatz

The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission (ACAC), which advises Athens-Clarke County’s mayor and commission on cultural affairs and aesthetic development, has launched a new partnership with the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

Since its conception two years ago, ACAC has been busy developing new procedures, starting and completing new public art installations, and considering the many opportunities and possibilities for growth and support of the arts. In that time, the work and responsibilities of ACAC have grown rapidly. This growth produced two critical needs: staff assistance and visible, accessible office space.

Thanks to the help of the county government and county commissioners, and to Athens Area Chamber of Commerce President Doc Eldridge’s vision to bring an arts component to the chamber family, ACAC now has a place to hang its hat.

We are all aware that developing collegial relationships results in better outcomes. The opportunity has now been created for the organizations housed at the Chamber office to continue sharing, discussing, and collaborating on projects with the added perspectives and contributions of the arts. What makes this new partnership especially exciting is the fact that the arts fit so well with the chamber’s mission to help its members and the community grow and prosper.

I recently attended a public art conference in Pittsburgh as part of the Americans for the Arts National Conference. Americans for the Arts and businesses across the United States came together to create the pARTnership Movement, a resource for educating and connecting businesses and arts organizations. Their purpose is to provide opportunities, information, and resources to achieve the greatest level of benefit for both.

The eight reasons businesses partner with the arts are that employees want to live and work in a vibrant community; the arts help build market share, enhance brand and reach new customers; the arts help businesses get their message across in engaging ways; creativity is among the top skills sought by employers; the arts challenge employees to be their best; access to arts events is a way for businesses to show appreciation for employees, and when businesses partner with local arts, they partner with the whole city.

A number of cities have established business and arts organizations. The mission of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, for example, is to “strengthen our creative sector, including the arts, culture and for-profit creative businesses, by engaging the business, legal and technology communities, providing capacity-building services, and serving as a thought leader and a convener.”

Clearly, Athens-Clarke County is taking a very progressive step to create an opportunity to partner business and the arts by establishing a place for the ACAC at the Chamber.

The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce now houses LEAD Athens, the Clarke County Mentor Program, Adopt-A-Class, the Economic Development Department, the Athens Downtown Development Authority, and the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission. Consider the goals of these organizations and imagine the benefits our community can experience from their working together to positively impact the lives of our citizens: development of strong leaders; support of an improved level of education; new business and job growth; economic prosperity, cultural connections, enhanced environment, contributions to our quality of life and community pride.

The arts are business, and the arts support other businesses, even businesses not necessarily considered to be among members of the creative industries. In fact, just about every business accesses the arts at some level or in some capacity, in everything from website design to advertising to brand logos.

The arts are not an “extra.” They are an integral part of all we do as individuals and as a community. Let’s celebrate the new partnership of the arts with the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. Together, these two arms of our community will join to successfully contribute to Athenians’ quality of life.


(This post, originally published in the Athens Banner Herald, 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 post, originally published in the Athens Banner Herald, 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!) - See more at:

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