Up to the minute news on arts and business partnerships.


Five Strategies for Arts-Business Relationships

Posted by John Bryan

CultureWorks is the privately-funded nonprofit organization that serves as the local arts agency for Richmond, Virginia. Although it is only the nation’s 43rd largest city, Richmond has a significant business community as evidenced by it being the headquarters for 11 Fortune 1000 companies – 6 of which are F500s.


Five ongoing strategies have helped CultureWorks engage good relationships between Richmond’s arts and business communities:


  1. CultureWorks is an active member of the Greater Richmond Chamber. “Active” includes volunteering for committees, paying to be part of the annual 3-day InterCity Visit, and attending Chamber gatherings – all of which help to establish and strengthen personal relationships.
  2. CultureWorks publishes reports on its activities and accomplishments and makes sure that business leaders read the reports with interest. I snail-mail a hardcopy of each report to several dozen business leaders, and I attach a hand-written personalized sticky note that has a message such as, “Frank – Good to see you last week. I’ve highlighted a couple of things on this report that you might find interesting.” It’s a lot of work preparing 50 or more of these letters, but the personalized notes cause this to be a communication that the business leaders do read.
  3. CultureWorks invites business leaders to volunteer isolated segments of their time to serve on short-term project-specific committees and task teams. Examples include the review panels for the CultureWorks Grants Program and our metrics task team. This not only builds relationships, but also gives the corporate participants a first-hand look at the value of the arts.
  4. CultureWorks has an intentional and ongoing track record of doing things that are of direct value to the business community. For example, we have presented talks by and discussions with The Conference Board CEO, Jonathan Spector, and former American Bankers Association President, Ken Ferguson. CultureWorks was the primary force in gathering the multi-sector consensus needed to establish Richmond’s downtown arts and culture district – a development that provides important benefits for the business community.
  5. CultureWorks has an ongoing presence in the editorial section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch – our daily newspaper – as evidenced by the publication of three or four CultureWorks-written editorial features each year. We send copies, along with sticky notes, to selected business leaders. Richmond’s business community does pay priority attention to the Richmond Times-Dispatch; its publisher is former president of the Chamber.


When CultureWorks was created in 2009, our staff members and our brand were largely unknown in Richmond’s business community. The five strategies listed here have caused the business community to be more aware of, and have greater appreciation for, the importance of arts and culture to our community.


(This post 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 article was posted on ARTSblog.


Your Secret Weapon: the pARTnership Movement

Posted by Timarie Harrigan
Your Secret Weapon: the pARTnership Movement

Since the launch of the pARTnership Movement in January, we have educated more than 13,000 people on how to make and promote connections between arts and business.

Find out what they've learned.


Visibility: We’ve run ads in Forbes Magazine, The Conference Board Review, the MTV screen in Times Square, the Central Penn Business Journal, and more. Learn how you can place ads in your own community


Resources: Get easy, accessible resources, like our 8 reasons to partner with the arts (también en español!) and tool kits, such as the pARTnership Starter-Kit, Building a pARTnership on Your Own, pARTnering with Small or Midsized Businesses, and Bringing the Arts into the Workplace. These resources provide you with the information you need to successfully engage in a pARTnership.


Inspiration: We’ve posted stories of the many successful partnerships going on in your community from Portland to Denver to Louisville and more. Send us your stories so we can continue to spread the word about the great partnerships already happening across the country.


News: In the news section and on ARTSblog, we post up-to-the minute information on arts and business partnerships from across the country and around the globe. Additionally, every Thursday we feature a special pARTnership movement post, written by a cultural leader or business executive, on how arts and businesses relationships have impacted them and their community.


Now let us know how we can share this message in your community. We’ve participated in forums and chamber meetings with you to demonstrate how arts and business partnerships are helping businesses achieve their goals, and we're happy to help you, too. 


Americans for the Arts is excited about the momentum behind the pARTnership Movement because it means you have been using the campaign to build better partnerships between arts and business. Send us an e-mail at for more information on how you can get involved. 


Know of a business with outstanding arts support? Work for one? Let us know. Nominate a company in for the BCA 10 annual gala that recognizes businesses of all sizes for their exceptional involvement with the arts that enrich the workplace, education, and the community. For more information and to nominate a company,


The Arts Mean Business on the East End of Long Island

Posted by Stephanie Smith
The Arts Mean Business on the East End of Long Island

Last week, we packed out a partially restored 1930s single-screen movie house in our town’s up-and-coming downtown area. How did we do it? Three simple words: Arts Mean Business.


We, being East End Arts, a nonprofit community arts organization out in eastern Long Island, operating a School of the Arts, an art gallery, and presenting a variety of events and programs to promote the arts year-round.


“Arts Mean Business” was a forum that we presented for the region’s arts and business leaders: we invited business owners, artists, local government, arts organizations, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and community members to the seminar with keynote presentation and panel discussion by notable arts and business leaders demonstrating the value of partnering with the arts to strengthen the economic vitality of Long Island.


We weren’t so sure how the community would respond to this sort of forum, but the immediate responses to our first marketing efforts proved that it would be a successful venture and indeed it was.


“Arts Mean Business” completely sold out—we were thrilled to learn that our local community wanted to know what we had to say about a very important topic: partnership between the arts and business communities of all shapes and sizes.

The group of 150 attendees represented a great sample of the people we were hoping to reach. It was really a 50/50 crowd of arts people and business people, with a few government officials in the mix.


We are so grateful that our friends at the Suffolk Theater agreed to host us in their space. The 1930s art deco-style theater has been closed since the 1980s, but is in the process of being restored with the goal to open by the end of 2012.


Guests were excited to see the majestic and historic space and meeting there really spoke to the creative process—and the endless possibilities for the future of our downtown area on the rise, and for the economic strength of all of Long Island.


Emily Peck, director of private sector initiatives for Americans for the Arts, joined us as the keynote speaker of the event, presented The pARTnership Movement, and reviewed the eight reasons that businesses should partner with the arts.


Some of the statistics that really resonated with the audience related to the economic value of the arts to the community and region: Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year—$63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences.


Much like the audience, our panel of speakers for the second portion of the forum represented a nice range of arts and business leader perspectives for the panel discussion: Eric Alexander from Vision Long Island; Rob Salvatico from Hotel Indigo; artist Elaine Thompson; Bob Spiotto from the Suffolk Theater; and Michelle Isabelle-Stark from Suffolk County Economic Development.Our moderator was David Winzelberg from Long Island Business News.


An important piece of the design of the day was to have this panel discussion be as interactive as possible—with attendees’ burning questions being answered on the spot. After the keynote presentation, attendees were asked to submit questions for the panel, and each question was addressed, as well as any others that came up.


A goal of this event was to help connect people and industries. Attendees stayed well after the forum closed—and well beyond lunch and the theater tours—to discuss their greatest ideas and to make as many connections as possible.


We were thrilled with the success of this event, and have since decided to hold a similar event on a regular basis.


We thank the Long Island Community Foundation for funding this program, as well as event media sponsor The Times-Review Newspapers. Additional thanks goes to the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce for partnering with us on this, and to Digger’s Pub & Restaurant and the Blue Duck Bakery for providing the food. Special thanks goes to our friends at the Suffolk Theater for hosting us in their beautiful, partially restored space.


And, breakfast provided by the Blue Duck Bakery is a perfect example of a successful partnership. The new bakery will be opening its doors in a few short weeks and the owners approached us prior to the event looking to donate some baked goods. Not only did they feed the crowd with their pastries and set the tone for the morning, they benefited from exposure to 150 people who now know they will be opening soon. Now that’s what we call a win-win!

Arts Mean Business - Conversations in Local Communities

Posted by Timarie Harrigan


In a conversation centered on the pARTnership Movement and how businesses can partner with the arts to strengthen the economic vitality of Long Island, East End Arts is hosting Americans for the Arts’ own Emily Peck as keynote speaker of the forum Arts Mean Business on Thursday, September 20, from 9 AM until 1 PM at the Suffolk Theater.


Earlier this week Emily spoke with WPKN about the pARTnership Movement and the Arts Mean Business Forum. Take a listen!



East End Arts invites business owners, artists, local government, arts organizations, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and community members to this arts and business forum with keynote presentation and panel discussion. For information and to register,

Private Sector Survey Says. . .

Posted by Valerie Beaman


Are you interested in learning what our business-focused affiliates have been paying attention to this year?


Respondents of the annual Private Sector Survey were asked to answer questions regarding their programs and initiatives fostering collaboration between arts and business. The survey requested detailed information regarding specific programs that support arts and business relationships.


Programs like board training are often components of local arts agencies, but many programs designed to engage the business world may be new to the wider field. We invite you to explore the survey and learn more about how your organization can expand its partnerships with the business world.


The 2011 Report surveyed eight Arts & Business Council (ABC) affiliates, 11 Business Committees for the Arts (BCA), 13 Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) affiliates, and 56 United Arts Funds (UAF), making up a universe of 83 organizations that focus on collaboration between arts and business. Of these 83 organizations, 52 completed survey responses. (To learn more about all of our private sector affiliates, visit our Private Sector Network page.)


Here are some of the most relevant statistics collected in this year’s survey:

  • Nearly three-quarters of the responding organizations (71 percent) served multiple county regions or combined city and county regions. The average population size of the geographic area served by all responding organizations was more than 7.1 million.
  • Responding organizations provided a total of $70.2 million in the form of grants or contracts to support arts organizations and/or individual artists during fiscal year 2011. A total of 3,028 arts organizations and individual artists were supported by this funding.
  • Responding United Arts Funds raised a total of $80.9 Million in 2011.
  • Total arts organizations served through responding UAF, ABC, BVA, and BCA arts and business partnership programs: 3,920.
  • Total businesses served through responding UAF, ABC, BVA, and BCA arts and business partnership programs: 3,791.
  • The most common programs that served arts organizations were seminar and/or workshops, advocacy resources, technical assistance, arts management training, and publicity & promotion services.
  • The most common programs that served businesses were networking opportunities, board training and/or placement, ticket discounts, and seminars, forums, and workshops.
  • 67 percent of the Private Sector Network affiliates hold recognition events that honor business support for the arts.
  • 35 percent of responding organizations operated some type of board development programs during their fiscal year 2011. These programs made a total of 216 board placements, served approximately 702 people, and were predominantly funded by a combination of grants, fees, and sponsorships.


Ten out of 13 Business Volunteers for the Arts® affiliates responded to the survey. According to those organizations:

  • 278 arts and cultural organizations were served by BVA volunteers during fiscal year 2011.
  • 380 total businesses provided volunteers.
  • According to respondents, 640 volunteers donated 9,256 hours of pro bono consulting during fiscal year 2011. At the mid-consultant rate of $120 per hour the donated amount equals $1,110,720.
  • The most common types of BVA projects for which volunteers were requested to lend their expertise were marketing & PR, finance & administration, strategic planning, and information technology.
  • The art disciplines that were most represented by the clients/customers of BVA programs were dance, music, presenting, and theatre.
  • The dollar value of cash and in-kind resources donated by BVA volunteers and their employers was approximately $1,403,335.
  • According to respondents the most common alternative ways that businesses supported the arts in their communities was by serving on the board of the organization with whom they were initially matched as a BVA, speaking at workshops/events, participating in board development programs, and attending recognition or fundraising events.
  • 90 percent of respondents anticipated the number of BVA volunteers to either increase or stay at the same level during fiscal year 2012.


The report also details which businesses provide volunteers and which provide support for the BVA program. You can also find out the actions each of the respondents takes to cultivate and strengthen relationships with community leadership groups and businesses.


We have seen great growth in business and arts programs nationally and we encourage you to continue increasing your efforts in partnering with the business community in ways that benefit the entire community. I hope that the information in the 2011 Private Sector Survey will provide inspiration!


*Originally posted on ARTSblog


*Photo courtesy of Irargerich.


Meet Bill, the Shakespeare of Central Pennsylvania

Posted by Emily Peck
Meet Bill, the Shakespeare of Central Pennsylvania

Bill, the Shakespeare of Litigation made an appearance in the Central Penn Business Journal through the work of The Cultural Enrichment Fund in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


Want to learn how to place ads in your own community? Check out our tool-kit for information.


Perserverance Pays Off: Reaching out to Your Local Chamber of Commerce

Posted by Suzan Jenkins
Perserverance Pays Off: Reaching out to Your Local Chamber of Commerce

After several years of trying, I was happy to finally snag a meeting with the Montgomery County (Maryland) Chamber of Commerce to make a presentation called Innovative Ways to Attract/Retain Top Talent: Innovative Arts & Humanities Community Strategies. How did I do it? Sheer perseverance!!


Why did it take me nearly two years to convince the president and CEO of the chamber of commerce that arts-centric businesses play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy?


Because like many corporate professionals, she was skeptical that we could demonstrate that partnering with our sector can build market share; heighten awareness of member company products and services; attract employees; increase job satisfaction; and, enhance relationships with existing and new customers.


Like so many of her peers, she was unaware of that arts-centric businesses spend money locally, attract talented young professionals, generate government revenue at a high rate of return, and serve as a cornerstone of tourism and economic development

So I kept at it. And finally, she shared that her members’ most pressing concern was employee retention. She asked whether the arts and humanities community could offer strategies that would help corporate employers attract and retain top talent.


When I emphatically assured her that we could, she eagerly invited me to make a presentation to a joint meeting of the Economic Development and Small Business Committees. I was thrilled! So, of course I asked former Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council Board Member Mara Walker (also the chief operating officer of Americans for the Arts) to join me and bring her pARTnership Movement slides. I knew our dynamic duo would hit a home run!


Mara prepared a stellar presentation draft and we edited it together. She also prepared a captivating narrative that demonstrated how harnessing the creative community has helped specific multinational companies gain a competitive advantage and advance their business strategies. From the first slide, our audience was hooked!


Our presentation went smoothly, so much so that one of the members immediately invited us to make another presentation for their company within the month. And we will!

We must continue to give practical examples of how the business community can consider the arts and humanities as a resource for creative problem-solving and that our sector can help to build market share.


As we further develop our relationships within the business community, we can help them heighten awareness of their company’s products and services, attract new employees, and provide them ways to increase job satisfaction and enhance relationships with existing and new customers.


It’s not often that we can see and feel a win-win, but in this case it worked!


(Editor’s Note: Join Suzan at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio for the Private-Sector Funding in the New Normal session to hear more.)


*This post was originally posted on ARTSblog.  Photo: Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County (right) and Mara Walker, COO Americans for the Arts address the Economic Development and Small Business Committees.


Planning that Gets You New Partners

Posted by Robb Hankins

Most community leaders don’t think about the arts much and most don’t really believe there is a link between arts and economic development.


I try to change that by hosting my own arts and economic development planning process, but I do it on a shoe string—quick, dirty, and cheap. It’s exhausting, but totally worth it.

Last year we started 20/20 Vision—the ten year plan for arts and economic development. On March 20, 2012 we unveiled our ten strategies: five community strategies and five county-wide.


20/20 Vision has already dramatically changed the landscape for the arts in Stark County (Ohio). We have new partners (and new dollars) available for the arts from places we’d never touched before.


Business leaders like Robert Timkin, managing director of Cormony Development, are leading the effort by planning to increase creativity and innovation in business through arts-based workshops, and increase cultural tourism by creating a marketing partnership between five major nonprofit tourism attractions in downtown Canton.


This strategic marketing partnership hopes to dramatically increase the number of visitors and increase overnight stays, as well as create day trip opportunities for arts destinations throughout the rest of the county.


Hear the quick story of how they did it on ARTSblog.


Kansas City Celebrates Artists at Work

Posted by Kelly Seward
Kansas City Celebrates Artists at Work

Spring is my favorite time of year because companies across Kansas City begin luring artists, writers, musicians, dancers, and filmmakers from their cubes for the sixth annual Art@Work corporate arts festival.


When the program began in 2007, I believed Art@Work was about showcasing the arts in all of its various forms. I know now that it’s about showcasing people.

Two years ago, Pat Wigley, a cable lineman at Kansas City Power & Light, created a sculpture of a wind-bent tree using the overhead line he works on every day. His co-workers awarded Into the Storm a first place ribbon and advanced Pat’s sculpture to our city-wide competition.


During the opening reception, I was approached by a teenage boy who saw the piece and wanted to know more about it. After we found Pat and his wife in the crowd, the boy energetically shook Pat’s hand and exclaimed, “It’s an honor to meet you, sir. You’ve inspired me to become an artist.” Pat looked confused but his wife absolutely beamed.

The two talked for a while about electricity,  wire-bending techniques, and inspiration. Before he left, the boy shook Pat’s hand again and said, “I’m going home to start making art right now.”


Pat told me that Into the Storm was the first piece of art he had ever made…he had always wanted to be an artist but had just never tried.


He then carefully took out of his backpack two cloth bundles and carefully unwrapped his latest work. The pieces were delicately sculpted flowers made from antique sterling silver forks and spoons that Pat had painstakingly polished to a Tiffany-like luster. They were absolutely stunning.


Many more sculptures soon followed as I received photographs of dancers, hummingbirds, and more flowers.


This past December, Pat shared that the Kansas Grassroots Art Museum wanted one of his sculptures for their permanent collection.


Art@Work allows cable linemen, database analysts, security guards, and CEOs to be artists; to inspire and to be inspired.


Many employees say that they feel more visible and respected at work after sharing their paintings or poetry. Others say that new friendships are formed as co-workers discover they hold a shared passion. Some say that they dust off guitars and paintbrushes and rediscover a long-forgotten love. Transformations occur.


Over the next few months, many Kansas City companies will discover the hidden talents of their workforce. My hope is that they will also discover the invigorating energy, passion, and imagination of their artists.


This blog was originally posted on ARTSblog.


*Photo "Against the Wind" by William 'Pat' Wigley


Corporate Giving is an Investment in the Community

Posted by Joanne Riley
Corporate Giving is an Investment in the Community

The company, Glatfelter Insurance Group, has 500 employees and is one of the largest privately held insurance brokers in the United States. They not only value the arts as a tool for human resources (very pragmatic), but also as a way to get their message across in engaging ways—sponsoring interesting art exhibits, both traditional and non-traditional shows, and symphony and pops concerts.


The company also knows that, for example, the fourth of July concert and fireworks draws 20,000 disparate people together to enjoy the sounds of the York Symphony who might never enjoy symphonic music.


Their partnership helps us (Cultural Alliance of York County) raise money among other companies as the new investors see the excitement and involvement of Glatfelter Insurance Company’s employees and their desire to make York the best place to be, so they want to give!


Glatfelter Insurance Company inspires and rewards their employees with all the benefits arts have to offer. And their mission, beyond their business, is to help be a positive part of the community where many of their employees live, work, and raise families. With their prominent name as an arts supporter, they inspire others to join them.


This is an excerpt from a blog originally posted on ARTSblog.

More News

Local Arts Agencies & Chambers of Commerce: Natural Partners
Mar 01, 2012 0 Comments
#1 Richmond has an enviable business community as evidenced by its being one of only 11 cities to be headquarters to more than five Fortune 500 companies and one of only 12 cities to have a Federal Reserve Bank.   #2 Richmond’s...
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