At Hallmark Cards, art is an essential component of the company’s DNA. From its founding in the early 20th century, Hallmark has fostered creative environments both inside and outside the workplace, and has been particularly instrumental in building the arts and culture community in Kansas City, Missouri, where the company is headquartered. Since the 1970s, Hallmark has contributed over $35 million in cash contributions to all of the major visual and performing arts organizations in the Kansas City area, including The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Beyond financial contributions, Hallmark displays a deep commitment to the arts through a number of arts-related initiatives. As early as 1940, Hallmark instituted a visiting artist program that continues today, bringing artists into the workplace to give presentations and hold workshops for employees. In 1969, Hallmark initiated the Kaleidoscope program, which has provided free creative art experiences to more than 8 million children and their families.
In addition , Hallmark has one of the earliest and most extensive corporate art collections in the United States. From 1949 to 1960, Hallmark sponsored the International Art Awards, instituted by Hallmark founder J.C. Hall to, in his own words, “sponsor a ‘laboratory of fine art’ in which artists would give their imaginations free rein and from which would come ideas to stimulate and inspire the world of design. Thus we could express the deep gratitude of Hallmark Cards to living painters everywhere for their constant elevation of the public’s taste.” These works became the genesis of today’s Hallmark Art Collection, which now contains over 4,000 pieces by over 1,000 artists, including Alexander Calder, Barbara Kruger, Norman Rockwell and Kehinde Wiley. Many notable pieces are displayed at Hallmark’s headquarters in Kansas City, providing fuel for inspiration and creativity among employees.
As a company dedicated to making cards for every life occasion, Hallmark values employees with unique artistic talents who are devoted to aesthetics and beauty. Hallmark’s internal creative staff is composed of over 900 members with different artistic talents, including designers, stylists, illustrators, writers, editors, calligraphers, web designers and photographers, who serve the company’s creative needs. Since 2010, Hallmark has held an annual artist’s fair, displaying the work of its staff artists as a way to celebrate their creativity and show the public the depth of talent that exists within the Hallmark family.
A significant portion of the estimated 48,000 volunteer hours Hallmark employees contribute to the community each year serves arts and culture organizations. These range from jazz museums and choral groups to dance troupes and improvisational theater, in addition to the Kansas City region’s high profile arts organizations. Hallmark encourages employee volunteerism through its VIP (Volunteer Involvement Pays) program, which awards a cash grant of up to $400 a year to nonprofit organizations, many arts groups among them, as a way to recognize employee commitment to volunteer service.
Hallmark’s cultivation of art and arts programming reflect the company’s regard for the arts as the key to human inspiration and creativity. A truly creative company at its core, Hallmark’s dedication to the arts both internally and externally reflects its passion for and belief in the power of the arts.
Photo: Don Ipock. Daniel Beaty as Paul Robeson in Tallest Tree in the Forest at Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Hallmark supports the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, as well as all of Kansas City’s major performing arts organizations, with financial and volunteer support as well as an employee ticket match program.