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2011 BCA Awardee, Aetna, Promotes Creativity in the Workforce

Posted by Mariama Holman
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2011 BCA Awardee, Aetna, Promotes Creativity in the Workforce

From music to dance, fine arts to performing arts, Aetna believes that the Arts can enhance one’s personal wellbeing, revitalize a community and create a world that bridges cultures and differences.

 

The company sees creativity in the workplace as essential to problem-solving and innovation, citing research from Psychology Today that indicates that creativity is the number one strategic priority for organizations and the world, at large.

 

Floyd W. Green III, Vice President and head of Community Relations and Marketing at Aetna says that, “Supporting the arts and people with an artistic background and passion aligns with Aetna’s goal of creating a talented, diverse workforce that can help this company thrive in the future. We are consistently striving to create unique new ideas that can help our business. At the core, art and innovation are incredibly similar and connected. In order to be a leader, we need to think creatively.”

 

For this reason, Aetna partnered with the Greater Hartford Arts Council to foster teamwork and creativity within employees by giving their workers a chance to create a work of art. The program, called Work of Art, gave Aetna employees a chance to work together on a painting that was assembled from small canvasses into one large painting, which would be displayed at the company’s headquarters.

 

Local artist, Nina Salazar worked alongside the Arts Council to help facilitate the project for employees – engaging workers to be creative and discover their artistic side.

 

Employees at first were excited, but hesitant, given they did not see themselves as artists, however by the end of the project, workers were inspired by their collective work and creative potential, becoming completely engrossed in the activity.

The work Aetna does with its employees is mirrored within the community. Aetna focuses on initiatives that explore the spirit of hope, health and diversity through the arts.

 

Historically headquartered in Hartford, CT, Aetna has directed more than 70 percent of its arts funding toward Connecticut cultural institutions, supporting 257 programs, events, and activities. Aetna is one of the founding funders of the Greater Hartford Arts Council (GHAC), having been a leader and core supporter since GHAC was established in 1971. Since 2006, Aetna has contributed more than $4.9 million to arts programs nationwide, sponsoring dozens of major exhibitions and performances.

 

Aetna also lends significant leadership to arts organizations’ programming and fundraising efforts. It was among the first to host a workplace giving campaign in 1995 and to enter the "$100,000 Club,” a special designation given to companies whose employees raise more than $100,000 a year for the Arts. Aetna’s workplace giving has raised $1,220,156. As for volunteer work, Aetna employees have logged more than 2.3 million volunteer hours since 2003.

 

Aetna is also a recipient of the 2016 BCA 10 Hall of Fame Award.

 

Photo: A message on the Apollo Theater’s marquee, thanking Aetna for sponsoring Apollo Theater’s Family Day. Image sourced from Aetna.

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Humana Employees Create Fund for the Arts App

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Louisville-based Fund for the Arts, the oldest United Arts Fund in the country, has launched a new app thanks to employee volunteers at Humana. Employees in the healthcare company's Digital Experience Center (an innovation lab) donated over 75 hours to help create the app, Louisville Arts Link, which launched on February 2, 2016. The app provides detailed listings of the various arts and cultural events in the area and enables users to donate to Fund for the Arts.

 

The Digital Experience Center team is proud to have volunteered to co-create the app with the Fund, its constituents and supporters,” said Antonio Melo, Director of the Humana Digital Experience Center. “It is a meaningful and tangible way for us to give back to the vibrant arts community in Louisville that we consider to be among the city’s great treasures.”

 

For its outstanding partnerships with the arts, Humana received induction into the BCA Hall of Fame in 2006, and Humana Chairman Michael B. McCallister received the 2013 BCA Leadership Award for his commitment to the arts.

 

According to the app also will digitize the Fund's ArtsCARD, which offers discounts for many of the 14 arts organizations that coordinate their fundraising through Fund for the Arts. Deals include special ticket packages, first option to purchase, free performances, and last-minute discount offers.

 

“Our goal for the app is to help promote local arts opportunities while increasing access, event attendance, engagement and awareness,” said Christen Boone, Fund for the Arts president and CEO. “The arts are everywhere in Louisville and Louisville Arts Link will make it so easy for our residents and visitors to discover and experience them.”

 

The app follows the release of Fund for the Arts' new branding, which was revealed in January 2016. “As a steward for the arts in our community, Fund for the Arts wanted to pay tribute to everything the arts have done for our city with a new brand that is energetic, vibrant, and modern yet a nod to six decades of rich cultural history," the organization said.

In a video released on Twitter, Fund for the Arts released its new look, stating: “As a steward for the arts in our community, Fund for the Arts wanted to pay tribute to everything the arts have done for our city with a new brand that is energetic, vibrant, and modern yet a nod to six decades of rich cultural history.” - See more at: http://www.americansforthearts.org/news-room/fund-for-the-arts-unveils-new-brand#sthash.EsNkkqgf.dpuf
In a video released on Twitter, Fund for the Arts released its new look, stating: “As a steward for the arts in our community, Fund for the Arts wanted to pay tribute to everything the arts have done for our city with a new brand that is energetic, vibrant, and modern yet a nod to six decades of rich cultural history.” - See more at: http://www.americansforthearts.org/news-room/fund-for-the-arts-unveils-new-brand#sthash.EsNkkqgf.dpuf
In a video released on Twitter, Fund for the Arts released its new look, stating: “As a steward for the arts in our community, Fund for the Arts wanted to pay tribute to everything the arts have done for our city with a new brand that is energetic, vibrant, and modern yet a nod to six decades of rich cultural history.” - See more at: http://www.americansforthearts.org/news-room/fund-for-the-arts-unveils-new-brand#sthash.EsNkkqgf.dpuf

 

Read the full press release here.

 

Does your business encourage skills-based volunteering to help arts organizations in your community? We want to hear from you! Tell us about it on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us a partnership@artsusa.org.

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The Art of Corporate Storytelling

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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The average American is exposed to thousands of brand messages each day, from traditional advertising to product packaging in supermarkets. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by information overload. So how can businesses cut through the clutter to convey important messages to customers, employees, and other stakeholders? Many businesses turn to the arts to help communicate strategic messages in a catchy, memorable, and accessible way.

 

In Advace Corporate Objectives & Strategies, our latest addition to The pARTnership Movement essay series, we explore how Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was able to communicate a strategic message about a new coffee line (while also engaging employees) by partnering with Pomegranate Center, a nonprofit organization that builds arts-filled community gathering spaces.

 

“We wanted to communicate a strategic message that aligned with the idea of bringing people together—whether to share a cup of coffee or to make the world a better place,”
said Karen Yacos, former Director of Enterprise Domestic Community Outreach at Green Mountain Coffee.

 

Arts partnerships also help Kaiser Permanente—a California-based, nonprofit health plan that serves more than 10 million members from Hawaii to the East Coast—go beyond protecting the health of its members to bolster the health of entire communities in which it operates. The company's Educational Theatre Program models positive behaviors and healthy decision-making through the medium of theater.

 

Learn more about these creative approaches to corporate storytelling in the Advace Corporate Objectives & Strategies essay.

 

Arts partnerships offer companies effective and cost-efficient methods of achieving critical business goals. Explore The pARTnership Movement essays to learn how America's top businesses are partnering with the arts to recruit and retain talent, put companies in the spotlight, and foster critical thinking among employees.


Do you know of a company that partners with the arts to advance corporate objectives and strategies? We want to hear from you! Tell us about it on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us at pARTnership@artsusa.org.

 

Photo: College interns in Colorado tackle the obesity crisis with the play "Health Team 4" through Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Program. Photo by Ricardo Casillas.

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Poets’ Precision Helps Future Physicians

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Poets’ Precision Helps Future Physicians

In an essay published in July 2015’s Academic Medicine, Dr. Caroline Welbery and Dr. Rebecca McAteer of Georgetown University School of Medicine make a case for incorporating the arts into medical school curriculum. Their research suggests that exposure to the arts can provide valuable new perspectives for physicians-in-training. They have created 8 weeks of curriculum that they call an “arts observation seminar,” which includes instruction in poetry, photography, and descriptive writing.

 

“The literary and visual arts have long-standing and venerable roles in fortifying the lessons of clinical empathy, communication skills, critical thinking, and attention,” the doctors say. They claim that arts-based training can help future physicians keep an open mind, describe their observations with precision, and articulate their ideas effectively.

For example, the doctors suggest that the study of poetic precision “provides an educational bridge to recognizing the importance of detail in the clinical realm, where exactness is critical to providing safe, high-quality medical care. Reviewing examples of literary precision can help students learn how to avoid crude or sloppy descriptions, and how to analyze observations that lack appropriate nuance.”

 

As the Pacific Standard writes, “Wellbery and McAteer argue [that] arts training can help enormously in practicing focused attention, cultivating a habit of close observation, and staying aware of one's own biases. You can't properly diagnose what you don't really see, and when it comes to perceptiveness, there's nothing like a physician with a touch of the poet.”

 

Learn more about the benefits of arts education.
 

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"It Takes a Village..." Why Aetna Supports STEAM Education

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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"It Takes a Village..." Why Aetna Supports STEAM Education

On May 7, 2015, Americans for the Arts attended a STEAM Assembly in New York City hosted by VH1 Save the Music, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring music programs in America’s public schools and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education. Panelists from the worlds of education, the arts, business, and media came together to share best practices, personal stories, research, and ideas on incorporating the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based curriculum.

 

The panelists included Aetna’s Senior Director of Community Relations & Urban Marketing, Miguel Centeno, who explained that promoting “[STEAM education] takes a village, and businesses are an important part of that village.” He laid out three reasons why Aetna “fundamentally supports STEAM [over the STEM education model].”

 

  1. “We support the arts because it is a workforce development imperative."
  2. “We like to support things that we know work, because we like to make sure we’re making an impact with the investments that we’re making.”
  3. “We like to support things that are employees are interested in.”

 

Centeno explained that “Aetna is a STEAM company.” Their staff is comprised of medical clinicians, technologists, engineers, financial analysts, and also marketers, who he described as artists that are charged with creating an emotional response to affect decision making. In addition to hiring employees from each of the STEAM focus areas, Aetna also supports the arts internally through an employee jazz band and choir and through the Aetna Foundation's matched giving program. According to Centeno, last year Aetna employees volunteered over 420,000 hours in communities across the country and donated over $7 million to the organizations where they volunteer. The Aetna Foundation provided a partial match for those donations, which amounted to an additional $4 million in giving. “Many of the projects our employees themselves have selected are in STEAM,” he said. “We support [employee engagement with the arts] at every turn,” Centeno added, “because if we do that than we have a more satisfied employee. And a more satisfied employee is a more productive employee.”

 

“Aetna is no longer just a health insurance company" Centeno said. "It is a healthcare company that requires innovation and ingenuity in order to be successful." Aetna is helping to develop the next generation of innovators by supporting STEAM programs throughout the United States. One example of their efforts is a partnership with ArtsWestchester through which they have helped develop arts related projects, including a mural creation residency program. “We have seen time and again that [STEAM] results in higher test scores and lower drop-out rates, and the reason that that happens is because we are able to connect with that child on an emotional level,” Centeno explained.

 

Aetna is a 2011 recipient of the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America. Additionally, Floyd W. Green III, the Vice President and Head of Community Relations and Urban Marketing at Aetna, sits on Americans for the Arts’ Board of Directors.

 

Watch a recording of the STEAM Assembly.

Learn more about STEAM education.

Read more about Aetna's partnership with the Center for Puppetry Arts.

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Aetna’s Floyd Green: How Theater Honed His Business Acumen

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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Americans for the Arts Board Member Floyd W. Green III is best known as the Corporate Vice President and Head of Community Relations and Urban Marketing at Aetna. He has, however, spent time out of the corporate office and on the stage. From German cabarets and Atlantic City nightclubs, to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Green immerses himself in the many facets of theater.

 

A recent article by Forefront Magazine interviews Green about how he’s used lessons from the theater world to enhance his skills as a business leader and manager. He says, “It’s like a ‘Night at the Improv.’ You’re in the moment when you’re in a sales call or meeting. It’s all in real time, and it’s just like doing improvisation. If you’re not present in the moment, you will not be genuine or authentic.”

 

At Aetna, Green advocates for the arts as a tool to improve people’s health and offers unique ways for employees to express their emotions through creative means. Aetna is a 2011 recipient of the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America.

 

Read the full interview here.

 

ACC_Theater_D_e

Photo: courtesy of Forefront Magazine.

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Kaiser Permanente Employee Shows Her Creative Outlet

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Meet Jandel Allen-Davis, MD, vice president of government, external relations and research for Kaiser Permanente Colorado. In her spare time, she’s a fabric artist and has completed more than 100 beautiful pieces—some of which she proudly displays all over her home. See how Dr. Allen-Davis incorporates her creativity and problem solving skills into her artwork as well as her work at the office.

 

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Diagnosing Art

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Diagnosing Art

Diagnosing art? The following article from the Wall Street Journal looks at a group of physicians who are doing just that! Courses developed at medical schools around the country are training doctors to hone their observation skills by studying works of art. A swollen knee, a lazy eye—the subjects of many great paintings present maladies that offer doctors a new perspective on crafting their diagnosing skills. Just one of the many ways the arts are being utilized to build a stronger, more productive workforce.

 

Doctors Enlist Paintings to Hone Skills

 

Photo: Raphael’s The School of Athens, Universal History Archive/Getty Images. Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

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Aetna's Partnership with the Sphinx Organization Reaches New Heights

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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I spy with my little eye arts and business partnerships! If you look carefully at the video below of cellist Francisco Vila performing with a beatboxing Southwest Airlines flight attendant, you will notice that Vila is wearing a shirt emblazened with the Aetna logo. Vila was the Second-Prize laureate of the 15th Annual Sphinx Competition, which offers young black and latino classical string players a chance to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges and perform with established professional musicians in a competition setting. Aetna is a proud sponsor of the competition and the Sphinx Virtuosi tour that follows.

 

In cities throughout the tour, Sphinx musicians visit with children, particularly in underprivileged communities. The musicians, who are generally in their late teens to late 20s, encourage the children they meet to understand and explore classical music as a possible future path for their talent. As they share their stories with children, they also will stress the importance in their own lives of healthy eating, exercise and other healthy behaviors that help them perform at their personal best.  

 

"Children absorb and learn in surround sound and we think these inspiring young musicians can hit the right notes and leave a memorable, powerful message of health, hope and bright futures with the children they meet," said Miguel Centeno, managing director, Aetna Community Relations and Urban Marketing in an Aetna press statement. "We are thrilled to support this tour and to be working with the Sphinx Organization on this unique program."

 

Check out the following video to see the unexpected benefits of Aetna's partnership with arts organizations like Sphinx.

 

 

For more information on Aetna's arts partnerships and CSR initiatives, visit Aetna.com.

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Theatre Brings New Perspective to Global Health Issues

Posted by Bruce Whitacre
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“We have a euphoria inhibitor in Stage 2 trials,” explained the drug company executive to the bio-tech venture capitalist.

 

I paused. I told him that we in theatre seek euphoria wherever we can find it. He laughed and explained that euphoria inhibitors help keep strong pain medication from becoming addictive. The venture capitalist leaned in to hear more and I went to the buffet for another sandwich.

 

I was attending the Long Wharf Theatre’s 2013 Global Health and the Arts symposium, “Obesity and its Public Health Consequences.”

 

Driven by the combination of Yale Medical School and other Yale University researchers, the proximity to the Boston research corridor, the Tri-state pharmaceutical industry, and the catalytic qualities of Long Wharf trustee David Scheer, the conference capitalizes on Long Wharf’s unique location in New Haven, CT.

 

The idea came from David’s desire to do more for Long Wharf Theatre. It played to his strengths, and as I’ll explain later, those of Long Wharf as well.

 

In past years, the conference has focused on cancer, addiction, mental health, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a serious medical conference that is convened in and uses theatre to enliven and engage researchers and businesspeople alike. 

 

Stephen J. Linell, a scientist with The Jackson Laboratory said, “The synergy that comes from combining arts and various perspectives on the impact of illness and disease helps put into context the work scientists are performing. It also inspires creative thought about ways to approach the problem.”

 

Global Health and the Arts demonstrates how crucial a theatre can be in addressing complex technical and social issues, especially when they intertwine.

 

As Long Wharf Director of Development Eileen Condon Wiseman, a key player in the convening said, “What we hear from the participants is how enlightening the experience is, and how different it is from traditional medical conferences. They find the theatrical presentations so illuminating and powerful because they breathe life and humanity into the scientific and academic conversations.”

 

Long Wharf Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein plays a critical part in integrating theatre into the day-long conference, which concludes with a performance of a topical play on a Long Wharf stage. His keynotes are highly regarded by participants in encouraging out of the box thinking on their part; and for theatre people, they underscore the potential of our medium to engage our audience at every level. (Editor’s Note: Read Edelstein’s remarks here.)

 

Throughout the day, scientists, researchers, and bio-tech executives repeatedly referred to Gordon’s remarks and the theatrical interludes which included performances of brief scenes that highlight the social ramifications of the topic of the day.

 

The challenges in the theatre world in addressing obesity underscore one of the most unsettling public health issues of the day: the continuing social acceptability of prejudice against the obese despite mounting evidence that industrial and scientific causes underlie this rapidly growing disease.

 

The complexity of this problem, and its scale—two-thirds of the American public is overweight or obese—require a multi-dimensional approach to the solution. Topics covered included public engagement strategies, developments in cellular and molecular science, industry trends and challenges, the regulatory outlook, and assessments of the pace of innovation and how it can be improved and financed.

 

The day concluded with January Joiner, a world premiere horror comedy by Laura Jacqmin, directed by Long Wharf associate artistic director Eric Ting.

 

“New Haven is becoming a quintessential 21st century, with an economy anchored in higher education, the life sciences, and the arts,” explained Long Wharf Managing Director Joshua Borenstein. “Our Global Health and the Arts event allows Long Wharf to demonstrate the benefit when all three sectors intersect to explore a critical issue. The diversity of perspectives elevates the level of discourse, and the day is a memorable and exciting one for everyone who participates.”

 

What first brought this to my attention was its success as a sponsorship vehicle. Companies pay to be here, and it is a real shot in the arm for the theatre. But attending it in person, it demonstrates so much more: that theatre can do more than explore our challenges as a society, it can actively engage in finding solutions. And the more complex the problem, the more suitable is theatre as a venue for the work of fixing it because theatre is itself so multi-dimensional.

 

Now that is my definition of euphoria.

 

*This article was orginally posted on ArtsBlog.

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