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The Arts are Integral to Business Success - Kohler Co.

Posted by Laura Kohler
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The Arts are Integral to Business Success - Kohler Co.

The following are excerpts from remarks by Kohler Company Senior Vice President
Laura Kohler at NASAA's Creative Industries Briefing:

 

Thank you for inviting Kohler Company to contribute to today’s discussion telling a story of the importance of art to this 144-year-old company, headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin—one of the world’s strongest brands that employs over 35,000 people.

 

The arts are very important to me personally, as well as for Kohler Company. In fact, I am before you as a business executive with 25 years of experience who sits on the top team of a $6.5 billion company with an M.F.A., not an M.B.A. The value of the arts has been engrained in our company’s ethos, and we have been consistent advocates of elevating the importance of the arts in society through education, arts organizations and scholarships.

Art energizes our public spaces, emboldens our thinking, enriches our communities, and inspires pride and interaction with each other. It is a necessary inspiration in our busy world, and a symbol of our collective humanity—an unspoken means by which we can connect across cultures, geographies and generations.

As a company, we remain curious and adventurous and employ associates who have an unwavering appreciation for design and the arts, and a healthy appetite to explore and discover new technologies. We foster a collaborative environment where our leadership sets the tone and encourages all associates to be as imaginative and entrepreneurial as possible—from sketching an initial concept or penning a big idea, to testing a new product prototype or designing an amazing master bathroom suite.

A creative work force, particularly within a design-centric organization such as Kohler, is the backbone to drive product innovation and sustained business success.

Among our 35,000 associates across six continents, we invest heavily in promoting innovation and problem solving, through a cross-cultural and cross-functional team approach—whether it be designing a better process or developing a new way of working in this fast-paced, ever-changing world.

Art and innovation also permeate our efforts in sustainability and social impact. At Kohler, we Believe In Better, because business success doesn’t matter much if we can’t say we left the world a better place than we found it.

 

The Waste Lab originated at one of our Innovation For Good workshops—an annual convergence where our associates incubate new ideas for social impact products. In this instance, a team comprised mostly of artists and designers brainstormed methods to refine production processes, minimize industrial waste, and reuse waste where possible.

Since 2010, as a company, we have reduced the amount of production waste sent to landfills by 46%, and the Waste Lab team working out of a dedicated space in our enamel shop is trying to find ways to decrease it further. In doing so, they are turning pottery cull, foundry sand and other waste products into beautiful ceramic tiles—a poignant example of how associates are applying creative thinking to waste while designing artistic new products.

 

Taking inspiration from that goal, our Arts/Industry program was founded in 1974 as a partnership between the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and Kohler Company. It has endured as a unique collaboration between artists and industry in the United States—one that has brought us significant recognition, but more importantly, has brought to the world some beautiful pieces of art that otherwise would never have happened. Over 600 emerging and established artists from around the world have benefitted from this program and have left their mark.

 

There is no other artist residency program where artists’ studios are located right on the production floor of a manufacturing facility, such as our cast iron foundry or pottery. Artists are introduced to bulk materials, such as slip-cast clay and cast metal, and techniques that give them a new way of thinking and working creatively.

One of the most important aspects of Arts/Industry are relationships that develop between the artists in residence and our production associates. Artists in residence value the expertise and experience of these associates, and the associates in turn are engaged in helping the artists solve creative problems. Associates have remarked that working with these artists has helped them think more creatively about their own work to push the limits of materials, processes, colors and sizes.

 

Communities rich in arts and culture attract people because of their quality of life, character, and opportunities for participation and investment. Art fosters vibrant communities and allows them to create and sustain social networks, and to establish their identities outside of traditional demographics. Art allows people to learn valuable skills—across all walks of life—and to participate in nontraditional, creative outlets.

And as I have described today, the arts also play a vital role in sustaining and growing successful businesses, by inspiring creative problem solving and successful innovation for consumers.

 

I appeal to you to take a step back and both recognize and appreciate what the arts and creative industries offer in terms of elevating the American economy, as well as fostering exploration and innovation that lead to better solutions. Let’s come together—private sector, education, government and nonprofit—and ensure that the arts remain relevant and respected today and for future generations. That requires an investment—collectively—of our time, our expertise, our passion and our financial support.

 

This speech was given at NASAA's Creative Industries Briefing on April 17, 2018 at the U.S. Capitol. To view the full speech, click here. For the full transcript, click here.

Kohler won a BCA 10 Hall of Fame winner in 2011.

 

Kohler Co. was featuring in a pARTnership Movemeny Essay on Fostering Critical Thinking.

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Americans for the Arts Honors 2015 BCA 10 Honoree AutoZone in Memphis

Posted by Jordan Shue
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Americans for the Arts Honors 2015 BCA 10 Honoree AutoZone in Memphis

Last week, Americans for the Arts’ Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives, Emily Peck, visited Memphis for an annual retreat with leaders of United Arts Funds around the country. Earlier this year, ArtsMemphis, the United Arts Fund hosting the retreat, nominated Memphis-based auto parts company AutoZone for the BCA 10 awards for its exceptional support of the arts. AutoZone was selected to receive the award and was recognized by Americans for the Arts at the BCA 10 gala in New York City on October 6.

 

On Thursday, November 12, the President & CEO of ArtsMemphis, Elizabeth Rouse, took the opportunity to honor AutoZone’s Jenny Turner Koltnow with the award locally. The presentation took place during a reception at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and was attended by United Arts Fund leaders from around the country, AutoZone representatives, Americans for the Arts representatives, and members of the local Memphis arts community.

 

Before introducing Koltnow to the stage to accept the award on AutoZone’s behalf, Emily Peck said: “We’re always looking for companies that are partnering with the arts beyond sponsorships, that are really integrating them into everything that their business does…our BCA 10 judges were really taken by the great work of AutoZone…particularly their partnership with Opera Memphis to create the AutoZone Opera for their national sales meeting. Those are the sorts of stories that really resonate, and show how an auto parts company can really understand the arts and make them a part of its DNA.”

 

While accepting the award, Jenny Koltnow, the Director of Communications and Community Relations for AutoZone, said: “On AutoZone’s behalf, thank you. Having been the product of a great arts program in a small town in Wisconsin, I know how important the arts are, and how hard arts groups in Memphis work in order to bring that value to everyone each and every day…this is a huge honor.”

 

To learn more about AutoZone’s work in the arts, visit the 2015 BCA 10 program book on our website. If you know of a company in your community that supports the arts, please consider nominating it for a 2016 BCA 10 award. You can find information about nominating a company here.

 

Photo: AutoZone's Jenny Turner Koltnow (left) with ArtsMemphis' Elizabeth Rouse.

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Arts and Business Partnerships: Enriching Workplaces and Communities Nationwide

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Arts and Business Partnerships: Enriching Workplaces and Communities Nationwide

On The Huffington Post, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch discusses successful arts and business partnerships, including his experience touring the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and visiting the Kohler manufacturing facilities and showroom in Sheboygan and Kohler, Wisconsin. Read an excerpt here:

 

Imagine that you are arriving to a job interview at a tech company. As you wait, you take a look around you, and notice beautiful, thought-provoking works of art displayed on the walls, plus sculptures in the public and outdoor spaces. Imagine working for a manufacturing firm, when one day you receive an announcement of an exciting new art contest for employees. Or, attending your national insurance firm's annual meeting, knowing that you'll soon be able to take the stage for a company-wide battle of the bands and sing and perform your heart out. In these three examples, you would actually be at Microsoft, Ford, or Aetna, respectively, but in reality it could be any one of thousands of businesses that are harnessing the power of the arts...because it is good for business.

 

You may be more likely to seek out companies like this for employment, or stay with a company for years because of various employee development opportunities through the arts. Or as a consumer you may just notice these companies first over competitors. This is a win-win for all--both companies and employees benefit from arts partnerships.

 

Last year I had the pleasure of touring the magnificent John Michael Kohler Arts Center, as well as visiting the Kohler manufacturing facilities and showroom in Sheboygan and Kohler, Wisconsin. During my visit, I learned directly from Herb Kohler of the impressive Arts/Industry program, a partnership between the Arts Center and Kohler Company, which makes the facilities and technologies of the Kohler Company's Pottery, Iron and Brass foundries, and Enamel Shop available to artists from around the world. In residencies of 2 to 6 months, artists are able to explore new ways of thinking and working and to create bodies of work that are not possible in their own studios. More than 500 artists have been involved over the last forty years since 1974.

 

The Arts/Industry program is having a remarkable effect on Kohler and the region. The artists' involvement in the factory and the community energizes the associates, and a creative synergy develops not only with the designers but also with engineers, slip casters, and enameling specialists. The cross-pollination has led to innovative ideas regarding products. Kohler is a name synonymous with bathroom and kitchen fixtures. But its internationally acclaimed arts partnership is getting plenty of attention too, not only for artist opportunities, but also for helping the company to stay at the forefront of its industry.

 

Continue reading on The Huffington Post.

 

Photo: Joseph C. Dilg, Managing Director and Vice Chairman at Greenhill & Co., Inc. (left) and Robert Lynch, Americans for the Arts President and CEO (right) present the 2011 BCA Hall of Fame Award to Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., Chairman and CEO at Kohler Co.

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Creativity: A Critical Element in Corporate Innovation

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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In 2014, Amelia Gandara helped launch 2015 BCA 10 honoree GE’s FirstBuild, which focuses on creating the next generation of home appliances, and she now serves as the Director of Commercialization and Engagement for EnterpriseCorp, which focuses on economic development in Louisville. But before she took on the business world, she was a professional dancer with the Louisville Ballet and Missouri Contemporary Ballet.

 

“Dance prepared me for the ebb and flow of teamwork,” she says in a post for Americans for the Arts ARTSblog.There are times when I’d get a solo, like a presentation to the public in the workplace, and times when I had to blend seamlessly into the corp de ballet, like when preparing for a product launch.”

 

At FirstBuild, Amelia worked side by side with artists that were brought in as collaborators to create new appliances. In addition, the company sought out other engineers who excelled in creativity. “The idea that brilliant engineers can be locked away in a research lab to solve problems is no longer held by the most innovative companies.”

 

Learn more about how ballet helped this engineer achieve big things in Louisville.

 

Learn more about GE’s FirstBuild and the BCA 10 in this year’s program book.
 

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A Company that Holds Art Near and 'Deere'

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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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.

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Milliken & Company Puts Full STEAM into the Arts

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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Milliken & Company has a secret weapon. The chemical, floor covering and textile manufacturer, headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, knows that the arts encourage innovation and creative solutions—something that has been engrained in the company culture for more than a century, which is why the company was selected as a 2014 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honoree. (Photo credit: Fountain by artist Harold Krisel, located at the Roger Milliken Center, courtesy of Milliken & Company.)

 

Milliken actively supports STEAM education—a movement that works to integrate the arts into a curriculum comprised of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Several of the design employees and scientists at Milliken serve as advisors for the STEAM Teacher’s Institute, hosted by the Chapman Cultural Center, and many partake in panel discussions about the importance of innovation in art and design in schools and in workplaces.

 

With the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg (TAP), Milliken helps to provide over 40 week-long professional artist residencies each year that align with core curriculum, and sponsors performances of music, dance, theatre and opera in schools throughout Spartanburg County. The company’s desire to connect more students to creative problem solving and strategic thinking has led Milliken to explore replicating the artist residency model with its scientists, furthering the integration of creativity and scientific learning. 

 

Since 1992, Milliken has partnered with Spartanburg School District One to display the winners of its annual district-wide art competition. Milliken has the artwork professionally framed and prominently featured on easels throughout its corporate headquarters. To recognize Milliken’s commitment to student art, School District One created the Milliken Art Gallery in its District Office, placed prominently along the corridor leading to the District Board Room. Cindy Riddle, District One Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts, states, “The placement of the Milliken Art Gallery is strategic as an indication of the importance of the Arts in District One and the artistic expression that is encouraged in our student-centered district.”

 

In addition, Milliken & Company curates an “Innovation Gallery” in its Customer Service Center at its company headquarters—a creative visual storyboard of the company’s history, values, and legacy. A virtual gallery is available here. In-person tours of the galleries in Spartanburg and Shanghai are often made available to local students.

 

“Innovation, art, and design are the heart of our corporation, and are inherent in our training… Communities with thriving arts programs are proven to exude stronger and more vibrant cultures—and dare to ‘do good’ for the world,” said Joe Salley, president and CEO of Milliken & Company. “The arts open our minds to the seemingly impossible and help us think with fresh perspectives, which is what our nearly 7,000 associates worldwide do every day to bring the Milliken spirit of innovation to life.”

 

For more information on 2014 BCA 10 honoree Milliken & Company, visit Milliken.com.

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Swatch Makes Time for NYC's Water Tank Project

Posted by Caleb Way
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New York City’s iconic skyline will soon be receiving an artistic makeover as many of its water tanks become the canvases of prestigious visual artists like Jeff Koons and John Baldessari.  The Water Tank Project, launched in summer 2014, is not only raising awareness around the world’s water crisis, a pressing social issue— but also uses art as its tool to inspire and educate. (Image courtesy of TheWaterTankProject.org.)

 

Sparked by founder Mary Jordan’s drive to promote water conservation and sustainability practices, the Water Tank Project is attracting the attention of influential artists and businesses across the country.  By commissioning artists to depict their interpretations of the water crisis on the tanks, and by collaborating with strategic corporate partners with an interest in communicating the same message, The Water Tank Project is sure to make a splash throughout the city.

 

One corporation that took an interest in the project early on was Swatch, the famous wristwatch manufacturer. The company has offered its financial support to the project, and also chose the artists for ten water tanks receiving a makeover in Swatch’s name. In addition, Swatch designed a one-of-a-kind watch called “The Art Drop” to further raise awareness and funds for the project—a portion of proceeds from the sale of the watch will go toward sustaining the project’s run in New York City.

 

Swatch’s collaboration on the Water Tank Project is a partnership with the entire city of New York. As a company that fosters creativity through its watch designs, Swatch recognizes the powerful impact that the arts can have in sharing the message of the company’s values as well as enhancing its brand. As a representative from Swatch commented, “In becoming a partner with The Water Tank Project, we are uniting Swatch artists from around the world. These are talents who represent Swatch through their creativity, energy, vision, and ability to express a message.”

 

Keep your eyes to the skies, New York! The slated 150 water tanks, including 10 from Swatch, will be dotting the skyline through November 2014, serving as an everyday reminder to conserve water, and as a reminder of the powerful synergy and impact that arises when arts and business communities find shared value through collaboration.

To read more about The Water Tank Project, its artist and supporters, visit the website.

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Toyota’s “Dream Car of the Day” Initiative Brings Children, Cars and Creativity Together

Posted by Samantha Sharon
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For the 8th year of Toyota’s annual Dream Car Art Contest – one of the largest global art contests for children – the company is taking things to the next level. Since 2004, Toyota has invited children from around the world to submit designs for dream cars of the future that offer imaginative solutions to large-scale social and environmental issues. This year, Toyota has asked children to do the same, but for the first time, they have partnered with creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Tokyo to bring 90 winning designs to life.

 

Together with Saatchi & Saatchi, Toyota has launched “Dream Car of the Day,” an online campaign that celebrates 90 of the best contest entries in a technologically savvy yet highly artistic way. The online campaign turns each design into an animated video using Vine – a trendy mobile app that enables the posting of six-second looping video clips – in order to take viewers on a ride through the imagination of a young artist. One new design and its accompanying Vine video is revealed daily on the Dream Car of the Day website and on social media.

 

The addition of the online campaign to the Dream Art Contest reflects the global scale of the contest, as it allows for worldwide exposure to the impressive ideas of children. Since the contest’s inception in 2004, over 660,000 children from over 75 countries and regions around the world have participated, and these numbers continue to grow each year. The Vine campaign also reflects Toyota's guiding philosophy of innovation through next generation thinking. Toyota believes in nurturing the creativity of the next generation of great inventors, thinkers and dreamers and this campaign allows for the celebration of the innovative ideas of these future leaders on a global platform. (Image courtesy of Hyperallergic.com.)

 

The Vine campaign also reflects Toyota’s understanding of the power of art to capture people’s attention. Each 6-second Vine video incorporates visually stimulating scenes that ignite artistic ande creative inspiration in children and adults alike. The company's commitment to this contest year after year reinforces its value of art and creativity, and the potential to incorporate the artistic efforts of the children designers into its own work.

 

As Masanao Tomozoe, President and CEO of TMSM said, “These works area great inspiration to Toyota… Anyone who sees the dream cars that these kids designed are sure to be touched by the optimism and innovative thinking that went into them.”

 

Check out some of the amazing designs and videos here:

 

 

For more information on Toyota's commitment to the arts and the communities that it serves, visit Toyota.com.

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At Lincoln Motor Company, Art is the Key to the Car

Posted by Samantha Sharon
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If you don’t see allusions to an eagle or an airplane when you look at cars in Lincoln Motor Company’s new MKX Concept line, look again. Andrea Di Buduo, Lincoln’s exterior design manager and the artisan of the 2014 MKX Concept, took inspiration from art, nature and aviation to create a series of sporty yet elegant vehicles that would appeal to a global audience.

 

Di Buduo created the the split wing grille on the face of the MKX cars based on the stare of an eagle, and the streamlined shape and wide proportion of the cars alludes to aircraft wing cross-sections. While the MKX cars have a different silhouette than other Lincoln models, the sources of inspiration for this series are not new to Lincoln’s design approach. For example, the design of the Zephyr model, which was introduced in the 1940s, was taken from aviation as well.

 

In an article on Lincoln’s website that introduces the MKX series, Di Buduo explains that he strives to offer “compelling and emotional cars…that touch people’s hearts.” Di Buduo's statement is a call to the artistry behind designing cars, rather than the mechanical or technical process one may typically think of. The very fact that Di Buduo is referred to as an artisan, and not merely a designer, signifies Lincoln’s commitment to aesthetics and beauty and to creating cars as works of art. The MKX Concept – Lincoln’s latest batch of powerful yet elegant vehicles – captures Lincoln’s passion and dedication to the artistic process as a tool that can enhance its brand and allow its cars to stand out on the roads. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln.com.)

 

Click the link below to watch a video introducing the MKX Concept, and read the full article, "Artisans of Lincoln: The MKX Concept," at Lincoln.com.

 

 

Artisans of Lincoln: The MKX Concept from The Lincoln Motor Company on Vimeo. 

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Chrysler, Ford and GM Pledge to Save Detroit's Cultural Assets

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Chrysler, Ford and GM Pledge to Save Detroit's Cultural Assets

(Photo courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts.)

 

Detroit's automakers are banding together to save the city's cultural treasures from going to auction. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have pledged a combined total of $26 million to help support retiree pensions and keep city-owned pieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts off the auction block as some creditors demand they be sold to pay off some of Detroit's billions in debt. The pledge from the "big three" is central to the city's $800 million fundraising plan to emerge from bankruptcy later this year. These companies recognize that partnering with the arts means partnering with the whole city, particularly in times of need. Read the full article at the New York Times.

 

Detroit Automakers Pledge $26 Million to Help Save City’s Art

 

“While it is our duty to focus on the revival of this city, it is equally crucial to cherish the treasures the city already offers – not just for ourselves, but for the generations that will follow. The Detroit Institute of Arts is a cultural treasure that enriches the human spirit, while offering us a chance to contemplate what humanity has achieved and what we aspire to create in the future.”

 

-Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC

“While it is our duty to focus on the revival of this city, it is equally crucial to cherish the treasures the city already offers – not just for ourselves, but for the generations that will follow,” said Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC. “The Detroit Institute of Arts is a cultural treasure that enriches the human spirit, while offering us a chance to contemplate what humanity has achieved and what we aspire to create in the future.” - See more at: http://www.dia.org/news/1625/Chrysler-Group,-Ford,-and-General-Motors-and-General-Motors-Foundation-pledge-$26-million-towards-the-Detroit-Institute-of-Arts-$100-million-commitment-to-the-Grand-Bargain.aspx#sthash.xSMXOIad.dpuf

 

“While it is our duty to focus on the revival of this city, it is equally crucial to cherish the treasures the city already offers – not just for ourselves, but for the generations that will follow,” said Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC. “The Detroit Institute of Arts is a cultural treasure that enriches the human spirit, while offering us a chance to contemplate what humanity has achieved and what we aspire to create in the future.” - See more at: http://www.dia.org/news/1625/Chrysler-Group,-Ford,-and-General-Motors-and-General-Motors-Foundation-pledge-$26-million-towards-the-Detroit-Institute-of-Arts-$100-million-commitment-to-the-Grand-Bargain.aspx#sthash.xSMXOIad.dpuf

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