Arts and business news from around the country.


A Good Laugh for a Good Cause

Posted by Danielle Iwata
A Good Laugh for a Good Cause

Thursday, May 24 marks Red Nose Day, the annual fundraising campaign for children in need. After launching in the UK in 1988, the initiative made its way to the States, where it has raised over $100 million. Hosted by M&M’S, a Mars, Incorporated brand, this year’s Red Nose Day will feature a theatrical twist.


M&Ms is partnering with City Year Chicago and Chicago Academy High School to get students on stage. With facilitators from The Second City Works and Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer, teens were encouraged to tell their stories. On May 15, The Second City hosted “Step Up to the Mic: An Evening of Comedy with M&M’S In Support of Red Nose Day.”


Allison Miazga-Bedrick, Senior Brand Director, M&M'S Brand said, "Red Nose Day brings communities and cities together around the world through laughter, and we are thrilled to bring some of this colorful fun to Chicago."


On the national scale, there will be a special night of programming on NBC on May 24. The fourth annual “Red Nose Day Special,” hosted by Chris Hardwick will feature special celebrity editions of “American Ninja Warrior,” and “Hollywood Game Night.”


Top 10 States for Arts and Business Arts Partnerships

Posted by Mariama Holman

Americans for the Arts has been honoring businesses that uniquely partner with arts organizations within their communities over the last decade through the annual BCA10 awards, receiving nominees of both large, small and mid-sized companies across a dozens of industries and over 47 states.


We are taking a moment to call attention to the top 10 states that have celebrated business and arts partnerships by number of BCA10 nominees from 2005 to 2017, with pro-arts quotes from iconic awardees from the respective cities.  


1.     New York


Time Warner Inc., New York,

At the announcement of Time Warner’s recognition in the BCA Hall of Fame Award for the 2007 BCA10 gala, Richard Parsons, then CEO and Chairman stated that, “Creativity is as important to the communities we serve as it is to the businesses we run. That’s why we’re committed to supporting the arts. By giving young people a chance to develop their talents and interests through media and arts programs, enabling more people to experience world-class theater, and nurturing diverse new artists and new works, we strive to help keep the arts rich and accessible.”



2.     California

Wells Fargo, San Francisco, CA

Richard M. Kovacevich, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wells Fargo & Company went on record during their 2005 BCA10 awardee announcement saying that “the arts make communities great places to live, work and play. Supporting the arts is simply the right thing to do.”



3.     Texas

American Airlines, Dallas, TX

Bella Goren, American’s Vice President of Interactive Marketing and Reservations at Americans for the Arts as well as a member of the board of North Texas Business for Culture and the Arts, accepted the 2005 BCA10 award in New York on the company’s behalf. “American and our people have a long-standing record of supporting the arts and enhancing what the arts bring to our communities,” said Goren afterward. “Hundreds of American and American Eagle employees volunteer in many positions and capacities in local and national arts organizations, and this commitment has been ongoing.  We’re proud of them, and grateful for their contributions.”



4.     Florida

Bacardi North America, Coral Gables, FL


According to Robert Furniss-Roe, the former Regional President of Bacardi North America, “Supporting the arts within the cities and towns where we live and work is our way of giving back at Bacardi, and this sense of corporate responsibility has been at our foundation since the Bacardi company was created more than 150 years ago. Arts programming enriches the lives of our employees and their families, our neighbors, and our business partners. The realm of the arts cross borders and languages to bring all people together in the name of beauty, knowledge and community.”



5.     Pennsylvania

PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA


“The arts can bring a community to life and influence its economic development. That is why PNC has long supported creative programs and initiatives that make the arts more accessible to our employees and everyone we serve,” said James E. Rohr, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.



6.     Missouri

Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO

“Hallmark’s mission is to inspire meaningful connections, which enhance relationships and enrich lives. We feel the arts are central to this purpose,” said Donald Hall, Jr., President and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc during the 2014 BCA10 awards at the Central Park Boathouse in New York.



7.     Wisconsin

Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee, WI

At the 2013 BCA10 announcement, John E. Schlifske, Chairman, President and CEO of Northwestern Mutual, stated that “Northwestern Mutual believes in the long-term benefits of sponsoring arts in the community. The arts inspire us to think differently and use new skills in all kinds of work. Our Foundation takes great pride in fostering and supporting an arts scene that not only provides entertainment, but also economic growth.”



8.   Tennessee

HCA Healthcare, Nashville, TN

"The arts nourish the spirit, challenge the mind, bring joy to the soul and enhance our communities. HCA's support of the arts is consistent with our mission to improve the quality of human life,” said Jack O. Bovender, Jr., Chairman and CEO of HCA in light of the company’s recognition for the 2006 BCA10 award.



9.   Illinois

Deere & Company, Moline, IL

"Support of the arts is integral to Deere's long-standing commitment to our communities,” said Robert W. Lane, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of  Deere & Company. “We are pleased to make major contributions to the arts that enhance the quality of life.”



10.  Ohio

Proctor & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

“Every day at P&G we strive to improve people’s lives with our brands and products, as well as improve the communities where we live and work. Supporting the arts produces ripple effects of benefits that help communities thrive and make them great places to live,” said Proctor & Gamble CEO, David Taylor upon the 2016 BCA10 announcement.


What Do El Dorado, Tulsa, Oak Park, and San Carlos All Have in Common?

Posted by Mariama Holman
What Do El Dorado, Tulsa, Oak Park, and San Carlos All Have in Common?

They understand that the arts contribute to the economy and quality of life


Small towns across America are realizing the potential of the arts to reenergize economies, rebrand districts, and revitalize neighborhood infrastructure. El Dorado, Tulsa, Oak Park and San Carlos realize that the arts area business, and investing in their success spurs the local economy. Take a look at a few of the many arts and business partnerships initiated across the country, below.


El Dorado, AR

$100 Million designated for entertainment district spurring job creation and tourism 


Downtown El Dorado suffered from zero to fifteen percent occupancy rates in certain blocks following the oil bust of the 1970’s. Scaling downtown development will turn community blight into benefit.


El Dorado Festivals & Events (501-c3) is investing in the Murphy Arts District, a year-round entertainment district in downtown El Dorado. Plans for the area feature a musical hall, amphitheater, restaurant and a children’s play area. El Dorado Festivals & Events also seeks to spend $32 million to renovate a 1920’s Rialto Theater, which will be reopened to include an art gallery, exhibition hall and artist-in-residence quarters. The grand opening is set for September of 2017.


Tulsa, OK

$30 Million creating new mixed-use retail space for the creative economy


Since the 1920’s the 72,000 square foot Archer Building has had a home within downtown Tulsa. The now abandoned building and its unique architectural elements are getting a face lift due to a grant from the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The Archer Building will turn into 35 artists’ studios, 14 apartments and retail space for 10 restaurants and retail businesses. Magic City Books, a book store with special rooms designated for community gatherings and clubs, will help anchor the ground floor.  


Jeff Morton, President of the Board of Directors for the Brady Arts District Business Association states that the development is to breathe new life into the area, “our magic time is not over; it is right now and what is in the future.”


Oak Park, IL

$50,000 set-aside for assisting local arts and business owners    


The Oak Park Arts District Business Association is investing time and resources in collaborating with creative workers and artists to further distinguish the neighborhood from surrounding Chicago suburbs.


Oak Park Arts District visitors criticize the lack of visible art within the community. “Friends love the bars and the idea of restaurants coming on Harrison and Lombard…It’s all very cool, but the arts do seem to be lagging,” according to Oak Park Arts and Business Association Trustee, Bob Tucker.


The association plans on focusing its resources towards facilitating the efforts of local artists and businesses that contribute to creating a more artistically vibrant and attractive neighborhood.  


San Carlos, CA

Chamber of Commerce hosts industrial arts show for increasing foot traffic


The San Carlos Industrial Arts District is currently known as the home of several home and building supply businesses, but the area is changing to be more consumer facing.

Zoning laws are now allowing food and beverage establishments, such as Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company and the Domenico Winery, to open. Local businesses are excited about anything they can do to improve the area for pedestrians. They desire to transform the neighborhood from a drive-through zone to a destination.


As a result, the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce is working with local business owners to put on an Industrial Arts Car Show geared towards attracting the district’s industrial design enthusiasts along with arts, food, and wine lovers.


Photo: Downtown Tulsa, OK


Why Does Your Business Value the Arts?

Posted by Jessica Gaines

In their acceptance speeches at the 2016 BCA 10 Awards, twelve industry leaders spoke about what being honored at the 2016 BCA 10 means to them and why they encourage and seek out opportunities to bring the arts into their worlds.

See the full event recap and view the BCA 10 program book to learn more about this year’s best businesses partnering with the arts. Know a company that partners with the arts? Nominations for the 2017 BCA 10 Awards are open through January 13, 2017.


1. Let’s Start Easy—With an Arts Business

[Describing a Mayor’s address to a group of teachers and students] And he told these kids, I think he managed to look every single one of them in the eye, he said, “You do what you wanna do, and you apply it the way you want to apply it, and take risks. Do art, do drama, do music, do what you’re doing here.” And it’s moments like that, seeing these kids and the teachers, that make me really appreciate the luck I have to be involved in a business that gets to provide, in a large measure, that creativity.

–Robert Buchsbaum, CEO at Blick Art Materials

Watch the full speech here.

Photo courtesy Blick Art Materials.

2. A Health Care Leader

When a chairman hires a Chief Mindfulness Officer and he allows his employees to meditate and to be mindful, he is art. When an IT executive plays a mean jazz saxophone, he too is art. When a community relations director forms a Latin band and sings in the nightclubs of NYC, he is art. And when a multicultural marketer shares marketing tips to a philanthropist—a corporate philanthropist at Aetna sharing marketing tips through The Grateful Dead—they too, are art. When a company has 16 different colors in its logo, that company is art. And we believe that everyone in this room is art. And when art and the folks in this room come together, we spark innovation; we inspire youth. We celebrate and heal communities. We stimulate economies. We sustain this great nation.

–Floyd Green, Vice President, Community Relations and Urban Marketing at Aetna, Inc.

Watch the full speech here.

Photo: Rana Faure


3. From the Utility Company

The focal point for Austin Energy is transformational power, which makes sense. As an electric utility, we deal with transformers and power each and every day, but there’s also a transformational power in art to bring people together: to create bridges of knowledge and understanding, to explore new ideas, to drive change.

–Allen Small, Distribution Director at Austin Energy




Photo courtesy Austin Energy


4. From the Water Meter Folks

At Badger Meter, my best engineers are all musicians. There’s some connection—I don’t know it because I’m a philistine—but there’s some connection between art, between music and engineering. I don’t understand it, but they know it and they’re all musicians. My best salespeople were on a stage at one time in their lives. My best marketing people were involved in the visual arts. And it’s those skills that you can’t just teach in a classroom. Somehow those were developed through their education.

–Richard Meeusen, Chairman, President, and CEO at Badger Meter

Watch the full speech here.

Photo: Rana Faure

5. From the Insurance People

In four months, I’ve met with every one of the 320 employees and the number one thing that they talk about is the arts, giving back, and community. … I think it’s the ability for all of us in our lives to be able to give back. To be able to do the things that are special and unique in our lives.

–Marc Schmittlein, President and CEO at CopperPoint Insurance Companies

Photo courtesy CopperPoint Insurance Companies


6. The Automotive Marketing Expert

I feel like we are receiving an Oscar for this [award] and it is really a true honor. These are the artists that have worked really hard to make all of these projects happen in Burlington, Vermont, and so more than anything I want to say ‘cheers’ to them and thank you to Americans for the Arts and BCA 10 for recognizing the rapport of business, art, and community coming together. So we have Scott, Mary, Michael, Kate. and Abby. These are the artists. Short and sweet.

–Jill Badolato, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at

Photo: Rana Faure


7. From the Beer Brewers

I really have a great job because our slogan at Dogfish Head is “off-centered ales for off-center people.” We have about 300 co-workers, the majority of them in Delaware, and a small salesforce around the country. We have all kinds of folks that are artists themselves. We have a magician’s assistant, a death metal guitarist, jazz musicians, graphic artists, illustrators, all kinds of folks. And our philosophy is that it’s really necessary to give back to the community and that’s what Beer and Benevolence is all about. Be it the environment, be it the community in general—but the arts especially.

–Mark Carter, Beer & Benevolence Coordinator at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Photo courtesy Dogflish Head Craft Brewery


8. Lawyers, Too!

We basically said, “We work with the most creative, innovative, crazy people around the world, you know, creatives always are. And why don’t we do that in Oklahoma City as well, and bring everybody into our office, make that community, that place-making kind of place.” And what we have seen really is that the engagement of our employees, of our staff, of our directors, in the arts has increased 200-300%. But one of the most amazing things for us is the karma—whatever you want to call it—the karma, good will, love that we’ve seen through this community, of this web of people that we put together.

–Douglas Sorocco, Director at Dunlap Codding

Photo courtesy Dunlap Codding


9. The One Known for Making Almost Everything

I’ll never forget my first day when I made it to manager and got an office; you got to tour the corporate art grouping and actually go in and pick out your own art. And so what did you feel? You felt that sense of passion and to be able to go in and say I resonate with that picture, that’s gonna bring out the best of me. And what a privilege to be able to work with a company like that.

–Susan Podlogar, Global Vice President Human Resources at Johnson & Johnson

Photo courtesy Johnson & Johnson


10. A Change Management Consulting Firm

Service, volunteerism, and sponsorship are important to our management team, our consultants, and our identity as a company. Supporting the arts had proven to have both personal and professional benefits for our employees and provided us an interesting and refreshing connection within our community.

–Kat McDonald, Community Engagement Manager at M Powered Strategies

Photo: Rana Faure


11. Even a Wealth Management Business

I would also like to extend a special thank you to the Americans for the Arts organization. Like us, you recognize that the arts are a transformative vehicle in our society and that cultivating the arts is not only important, but necessary to a world that seems to be moving away from creativity.

–Dave Blowers, Executive Vice President at Northern Trust

Photo courtesy Northern Trust


12. Don’t Forget About P&G!

Procter & Gamble has a long history of supporting the arts and we are blessed to live in a community where the arts have provided such amazing experiences for our employees, for our families, for new talents to come into our region and really be transformed by the arts.

–Phil Duncan, Global Design Officer at Procter & Gamble

Photo courtesy Procter & Gamble




Blick Art Materials CEO Discusses the Impact of the Arts at the BCA 10 Gala

Posted by Jessica Gaines

On October 5, 2016, Robert Buchsbaum, CEO of Blick Art Materials, the nation’s premier art supply source, accepted Americans for the Arts' 2016 BCA Leadership Award at the BCA 10 gala at the Central Park Boathouse in NYC.


During his speech, he recognized the arts for injecting courage, confidence, and creativity into leaders. He also acknowledged that leading an art supply company, he understands how imperative it is for the arts to survive and flourish, especially for youth.


Watch Robert Buchsbaum’s acceptance speech below, and learn about how you can nominate a business that partners with the arts for the 2017 BCA 10. If you are a business leader or community leader who wants to share or learn more about partnerships that benefit both the business and arts community, please contact us.  We want to hear from you.



The Art of the Startup

Posted by Stacy Lasner
The Art of the Startup

For America’s startups, employee creativity is a crucial ingredient for success. It not only fuels product development; it also helps build relationships. An article on Chicago Inno tells the story of a collaboration between edtech startup Packback and healthcare startup ContextMedia strengthened by a shared love of music.


Packback was incubating at ContextMedia to work on growing their e-textbook and digital learning platform when Packback cofounder Mike Shannon discovered that ContextMedia product manager Ernesto Rodriguez made hip hop beats and worked as a DJ. He reached out to see if Rodriguez wanted to lay beats for some of his rap lyrics.


When word got out about the partnership, other employee musicians came forward. "What we realized…is that we were surrounded by pent up latent creativity, latent creative talent that was waiting for a catalyst to jump into action," said Shannon. The duo began bringing other employees into the mix.


According to the article, “For Shannon, the collaboration also allowed him an outlet to share his entrepreneurial journey.” The song “Snowball,” for example, talks about the launch of Packback and features soundbites made by ContextMedia’s Shradha Agarwal.


(Soundcloud from Chicago Inno site)


The partnership has been instrumental to Packback’s business. Thanks to the Packback staff accomplished at ConextMedia, they raised $1.5 million and were able to move to a new office, which will feature a mural painted by Packback cofounder Jessica Tenuta and a sound booth for employee performances.


"In the startup environment, if it becomes successful, things can go very fast before you even have time to step back and plan," said Rodriguez, who has previously worked at Groupon and Redbox. "That sort of environment and those situations will make or break a person, or in the instance of a creative person, allows them to use the creative side of their mind to come up with solutions."


"If a group is literally jamming together and creating something, there is no question that it gets the creative juices flowing," said Northwestern Kellogg professor Michelle Buck, who studies the intersection of arts and business. "If these are people in ongoing intact groups that continue to work together, the level of creativity will be increased...because it generates an energy, confidence, a sense of rhythm, and a sense of familiarity and bonding. There's an energy that will naturally carry over."


Interview with Mike Shannon of Packback about the collaboration:


(Soundcloud from Chicago Inno site)


Read the full article here.


Learn more about employee musical collaborations.


Do your employees collaborate on art projects? Tell us about it on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us at


Van Gogh to Chicago with Airbnb

Posted by Stacy Lasner
Van Gogh to Chicago with Airbnb

The Art Institute of Chicago has created a 3D replica of Vincent van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles painting in an apartment building in Chicago and is inviting the public to stay overnight for $10 through Airbnb.


According to an article in The Guradian, "The surreal Airbnb listing was created as part of a new exhibition, Van Gogh’s Bedrooms, which brings together the three paintings of the same name that the artist created while living in 'The Yellow House' in Arles, Provence." The exhibit will also feature drawings, illustrated letters, and books from the artist's collection.


Reservations are booking up quickly, and the Art Institute is announcing available dates on its social media pages as part of its marketing efforts.


Airbnb also develops its own artful sleepover events, including a night on Ellis Island and a VIP package for the Greatful Dead's Fare Thee Well tour.


Photo: Airbnb.


FOX’s Urges Empire Fans to “Get Behind the Beat”

Posted by Kate Reese
FOX’s Urges Empire Fans to “Get Behind the Beat”

For fans of FOX’s critically acclaimed Empire, it’s hard to resist the compelling story of a musician’s struggle to overcome her destitute beginnings and achieve artistic eminence. Now FOX is helping real musicians find their own voice by partnering with the nonprofit Notes for Notes on a promotional campaign that will raise money to build fully equipped music studios across the country. The campaign, “FOX PRESENTS EMPIRE, Behind The Beat,” which launched just prior to the second season of Empire during the Teen Choice Awards, will help the next generation of musicians realize their potential by providing young people with free access to instruments and audio equipment, as well as professional mentors.


Notes for Notes works within Boys and Girls Clubs to provide youth with access to fully-equipped, staffed recording studios, allowing students to experiment with, create, and record music at no cost. The organization believes that music is a “universal language of humankind, with the power to transcend virtually any cultural, racial, or socioeconomic barrier.” Notes for Notes already features locations across the country in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit, and New York. The “Empire, Behind the Beat” collaboration aims to open the first ever Notes for Notes studio in Chicago by raising $200,000 to begin studio construction in spring 2016.


The “Behind the Beat” campaign marks another chapter in FOX’s ongoing effort to support emerging artists. In March, to commemorate the series finale of FOX's Glee, the company partnered with the Give a Note Foundation to establish the 21st Century Fox Give a Note Grants, which will support 16 under-funded music education programs at schools across the United States. Learn more about the Give a Note initiative.



A Company that Holds Art Near and 'Deere'

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
A Company that Holds Art Near and 'Deere'

Did you know that one of the most diverse and impressive art collections is hosted by BCA 10 honoree John Deere? This article gives an inside look at the company’s curatorial process with Deere’s collections manager, Nathan Augustine. The extensive collection includes works by international artists from Bosnia, New Zealand, Italy, and Columbia, ranging from traditional to more abstract pieces, much of which was acquired by Deere chairman Bill Hewitt. For its exemplary support of the arts, John Deere was recognized as a 2005 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honoree and last fall, the company was inducted into the BCA 10 Hall of Fame.


Photo: Bill Becker, Director, Brand Center of Excellence at John Deere accepts the company's BCA Hall of Fame induction at the 2014 BCA 10 Awards with Americans for the Arts President and CEO Bob Lynch. Photo courtesy of Glen Davis.


Building Corporate Partnerships is All About Relationships

Posted by Katie Kurcz

Katie KurczAt last month’s Arts & Business Council of Chicago’s workshop, we learned that the secret to building cultural corporate partnerships is that there are no secrets. In fact, the core strategy is as basic as building a strong, healthy relationship.


Although this revelation is rather anti-climatic and fairly intuitive, the case studies and advice shared by the workshop panelists provided instructive takeaways about who to target, how to approach prospective partners, and what to expect in making asks.

The panel was comprised of two sets of partnership pairs representing both the corporate and the arts perspective.


Ruth Stine, director of special projects at the Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) and Business Volunteer for the Arts (BVA) consultant, presented alongside Beth Gallagher, director of community engagement at Aon.


Beth acknowledged that the best way to get support from Aon is having an internal advocate(s) already involved with the organization as a board member or volunteer. The more Aon employees involved with the organization, the more likely Aon will consider a request for support. The status and tenure of the advocates are factors that are considerations as well.


Within these drivers for corporate support, Aon is also interested in how the organization’s mission aligns with the company’s stated funding priorities and what type of enrichment opportunities are available for employee or client engagement. That’s why Aon found CHF to be an excellent partner for their 2012 festival. CHF had plenty of programming to invite employees and clients to attend. Aon even had a couple of top executives introduce a few choice events whose topics aligned with the company’s values.


The second pair to present was Megan Smith, director of corporate partnerships at Steppenwolf Theatre and Johner “JT” Wilson an attorney at Daley Mohan Groble.

Megan originally met JT at a Corporate Diversity Night hosted by Steppenwolf which targets affinity and networking groups to build audience. Megan and JT hit it off and started to discuss ways they could work together. Megan helped recruit JT to serve on Steppenwolf’s Auxiliary Board as its Corporate Partners Co-Chair. In this role, JT was able to solicit his firm to support Steppenwolf’s annual benefit, the Red or White Ball. JT admitted that this partnership grew out of personal connections and their target prospect list was also generated from personal networks.


This was a repeated theme throughout the workshop. “I have always known that face-to-face meetings are the best way to welcome people into your artistic tent, but hearing this from the panel that stewardship does truly start with a face-to-face meeting and not a cold call or a letter campaign was invaluable advice,” said Kaela Altman, executive director of BoHo Theatre and workshop attendee.


Another attendee echoed this sentiment and added that time and patience is required. “My key takeaways were hearing things we had discussed from time to time internally stated in black and white. For example, that it takes about six to nine months to really cultivate a relationship with a possible partner, that asking for advice is a great way to get ‘in the door’ with a potential sponsor, that current board members are invaluable for opening doors and providing introductions,” said Erin Peyton, development manager at Cinema Chicago.


Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for getting corporate dollars to flow into nonprofit arts and culture groups, but we did learn that it is possible by building personal relationships and leveraging existing networks.


*This article was originally posted on ARTSblog.


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