(Photos courtesy of Stacey Irvin, April 2013)
What happens when you combine lawyers on lunch break with paintbrushes and an old school bus? In downtown Nashville, this mix resulted in a unique collaboration between two law firms and a local arts organization, giving attorneys a chance to get in touch with their creative sides while connecting with their communities.
This past summer, the owner of a Nashville bicycle shop, approached the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville seeking corporate support for his creative idea: to paint an old school bus with a community mural and repurpose it as a bicycle hub. Through the its WorkCreative program, designed to bring art into the workplace and integrate employees in hands-on creativity, the Arts & Business Council invited the Nashville offices of two law firms, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, to contribute some time to mural painting.
Both law firms have an extensive history of philanthropy work. Baker Donelson has supported arts organizations like ArtsMemphis, Mississippi Museum of Art, and Nashville Chamber Orchestra, among other causes, through financial contributions or by donating time and services. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings operates its own foundation and demonstrates a strong commitment to the civic and charitable endeavors in the communities where offices are located.
This particular collaboration between the law firms and the Arts & Business Council offered a unique set of benefits for the parties involved. For the law firms, these benefits extended beyond what is gleaned from traditional philanthropic efforts like Pro Bono work and financial contributions. Employees of the firms had the chance to awaken their creative sides in a project that stimulated innovation and interpersonal communication, which are invaluable in a business setting. Most importantly, the law firms benefited from the positive community relations and brand recognition that developed through their support of Nashville’s artistic community and the bike shop, which is a beloved member of the local economy.
Thor Urness, Partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, describes his experience. “People in business and the arts approach their work differently but can learn a lot from each other. Working side by side with the artist for a great cause—promoting cycling in Nashville—was a lot of fun for all of us. The Arts & Business Council’s WorkCreative program offers a great way to expose our lawyers to the creative process used by artists. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings was delighted to participate in the bus mural project because it gave our lawyers a chance to use the right side of our brains in a creative way that helped others.”
For these law firms, partnering with the arts is an opportunity to demonstrate corporate values and advance philanthropic goals while engaging employees in creative and stimulating activities. The completed Bicycle Bus Mural Project was a functional community art piece reflecting the vibrant creative spirit of Nashville as well as the camaraderie between local businesses and the arts.