Arts and business news from around the country.


Brand Building with the Arts: BACARDÍ and Major Lazer Partner to Support Caribbean Musical Talent

Posted by Mariama Holman


According to the global head of music at BACARDÍ, Liz Walaszczyk, “Every brand wants to have a place in music.”


2013 BCA 10 winner BACARDÍ is an enduring brand with a 153 year old history, surviving Prohibition and on top of that, an exile from Cuba. Since its “BACARDÍ Untameable Since 1862” campaign in 2015, the brand has pivoted back into pop-culture cool by focusing on music. It actively targeted millennials by hosting mobile house parties in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Miami, all the while partnering with musicians like hip-hop duo, Run the Jewels, to highlight their latest projects.


Working with an annual budget of approximately $50 million, over time BACARDÍ has created marketing clout at social events through executing global festivals with partners like Major Lazer.


Major Lazer’s sound, production and live performance quality made the group a natural partner for BACARDÍ. From the start, Major Lazer has operated under the premise that pop music is a truly global phenomenon, blending a unique mix of Afrobeat, EDM and dancehall that pulls in fans from Lagos, Nigeria to Los Angeles, fueling cultural earthquakes of sound and texture. This is perfect for BACARDÍ, who is seeking to attract consumers across the world and honor its cultural mishmash at the same time.


The newly formed Music Liberates Music BACARDÍ and Major Lazer collaboration gives free studio time to rising Caribbean artists, working to support and create a future for the legacy of Caribbean beats, rhythms and tunes that inspired the band and many other music lovers around the world. 


As a part of Music Liberates Music, BACARDÍ has pledged to contribute studio time to aspiring artists each time a specific song by Major Lazer, “Front of the Line,” plays on Spotify.


Artists to benefit from the program include Shokryme (Jamaica), Mystic Davis (Jamaica), Triple Kay (Dominica), Shanta Prince (Barbados), Dynamite (St. Vincent), Mula (St. Vincent), Bridgetown (Barbados), Ricky T (Castries) and Cohoba (Dominican Republic).





How it works? For every 50 plays of Major Lazer’s “Front of the Line” on Spotify, BACARDÍ will donate one second of studio time. One hundred and eighty thousand plays would create an hour of studio time. While this might seem daunting at first, Major Lazer’s hit list has achieved more than 40 million plays with seven Billboard Hot 100 hits such as “Lean On” with DJ Snake with over 2 billion YouTube plays and “Cold Water” featuring Justin Bieber and MØ.


“Front of the Line” is the band’s latest dance hall single, featuring Machel Montano, the Trinidadian soca star, and Konshens, the hitmaking Jamaican dancehall artist. Upon logging into the Music Liberates Music landing page, one can see a countdown of total plays for the song. As of July 5th, the song already has created over 79 studio hours for the 9 artists.




Photos and Video: BACARDÍ


The Company that Sings Together…

Posted by Jessica Gaines
The Company that Sings Together…

Chorus Connection’s Director of Marketing, Tori Cook, makes a great case for bringing together the altos, sopranos, and tenors in the workplace with the blog “Why Your Company Should Start an Employee Choir Immediately”.


She reminds us that singing in a choir can positively impact your psychological and physical health with strong feelings of improved social wellbeing, reduced stress, increased life expectancy, and more.


Tori interviewed a variety of people that have successfully implemented employee choirs including a CEO whose mission is to help businesses start a choir. She also interviewed Americans for the Arts Jordan Shue, Private Sector Initiatives Program Manager.


Here is a summary of Tori’s findings regarding the Benefits of Having an Employee Choir--


Enhances Employee Engagement

Jordan Shue stated, "[An employee choir] is a way to show employees that you value them and want them to have fun at work. It also challenges them to show their creative sides and work as a team on a project vastly different from what they do in the office day-to-day. That can have a huge impact on the way they work together in the future and how connected they feel to their company." 


Strengthens Employee Recruitment and Retention

Shue offered, "For companies that struggle with retaining employees, the arts can be used as a way to engage personally with your employees, showing that they want to nurture human and creative connections that may not have anything to do with their work directly, but [will] impact their happiness and wellbeing."


Improves Employee Bonding, Teamwork, and Relationships


Provides Networking Opportunities Within the Company


Breaks Down Hierarchical Barriers


Builds Leadership Skills and Inspires Innovation

Shue really hit home when she said a company choir can, "help jumpstart the employees' creative and innovative thinking that can help drive business. Research shows that creativity is among the top applied skills sought by employers, but companies need to develop the channels and environments through which employees can experiment creatively to jumpstart innovative thinking. The arts are the perfect answer."


Gives Employees Opportunities to Try Something New


Relieves Stress


Establishes an Appreciation for the Arts

Shue offered some advice, "There are endless ways to infuse creativity into the workplace: give concert tickets to your employees (like many companies do with sports tickets), schedule an improv workshop to help your employees build confidence when speaking, or check out The pARTnership Movement for more tips and ideas for engaging your employees through the arts."


And there just may be more company choirs than you realized. In the blog alone, the following company choirs are mentioned:



It should be noted, many of these companies with choirs (Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook) all appear on the “Best Places to Work” list.



Full blog can be found here.


To download the eBook How to Start an Employee Choir in 8 Steps, go here.


Photo: Boeing Employees' Choir


Conversations and pARTnerships Lead to Music Month in New York City

Posted by Jessica Gaines
Conversations and pARTnerships Lead to Music Month in New York City

What can happen when a creative industry is supported by business, city agency, university and more? A full-on revolution. And that’s just what’s happening in New York City. June will be the first-ever celebration of New York Music Month (NYMM).


Produced by New York Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and New York Is Music, the month-long celebration will offer a wide-range of free and paid concerts, workshops, walking tours, conferences, and resources for musicians including more than 2,000 hours of free rehearsal space underwritten by the city.


The new initiative was borne out of conversations between the MOME and music industry leaders following a summer summit in 2016, led by MOME Commissioner Julie Menin and attended by representatives of more than 75 music-centric companies and organizations.


NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the month-long initiative. "Throughout its history, New York City’s diversity has fueled remarkable innovations in the arts -- and nowhere is this clearer than the city’s music industry”. MOME released findings of a music economic study of the city that showed the NYC music industry supported almost 60,000 jobs and $5 billion in wages, and drove $21 billion in overall economic value in 2015.


"As the global music business experiences a true renaissance, there’s no better time to recognize the industry’s broad impact on New York's economy, identify key challenges and opportunities for the creative sector and create new networks of common interest across all five boroughs," says New York Is Music's Founder Justin Kalifowitz.


These networks of common interest have resulted in partnerships that support NYMM all month long - free rehearsal space in conjunction with community development organization Spaceworks, an online map for the free walking tours in conjunction with recreation and entertainment expert Foursquare, a panel discussion on Women Behind the Music hosted by digital music portal Spotify, and a day-long Sound Development NYC conference that centers on the intersection of music, technology and real estate in conjunction with NYU Steinhardt and Sound Diplomacy, a leading global advisor in increasing the value of music and night culture in cities, places, and developments.


Image: New York Music Month


Martha Ingram Receives Star on Nashville’s Walk of Fame

Posted by Jessica Gaines


Billionaire philanthropist, Nashville power player, and Americans for the Arts BCA Executive Board member Martha Ingram was presented with a star along the Music City Walk of Fame in downtown Nashville for championing the arts and music — particularly her role in rescuing the Nashville Symphony.


Inductees into the Walk of Fame are recognized for their contributions toward "preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and for contributing to the world through song or other industry collaboration."


City of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said, “"I describe her as truly our guardian angel for our arts community.” In the press release, Mayor Barry shares, “Martha Ingram’s insistence that the arts are essential to a city’s success and her significant personal investments in our cultural landscape have transformed Nashville.”


Martha has often used her influence and ample funds to support music and the arts in Nashville, best-evidenced by a key loan to the Nashville Symphony during a financial crisis nearly five years ago. She was inducted along with Christian music star Amy Grant. They both join the likes of Johnny Cash, Jack White, Loretta Lynn and other musical stars.


Congratulations to Ms. Martha Ingram on her incredible honor.


Photo: Nashville Business Journal


#ArtsandBiz Practitioners Speak!

Posted by Jessica Gaines

With voices representing many industries, these three business sector leaders echo the key messages in the pARTnership Movement’s 8 Reasons to Partner with the Arts.


1. Google

“Art for art’s sake and art for technology’s sake. We want to empower STEM and art work with students.”


Eric Schmidt

Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet

and former CEO of Google



At the unveiling of a new Google Data Center mural in Council Bluffs, IA, Google announced a partnership between Google and the Council Bluffs Community School District on a virtual technology art program.


With these data center murals and pARTnerships, Google is showing they care about the company’s impact in the community, beyond the business technology, but also in a way that boosts the community’s quality of life.



2. Viacom

Does Art at Viacom affect the creative productivity of staffers?

“It’s inspirational. Art inspires from the 

outside in. We want to keep the installations alive even after they’ve come down, so we’ve created a poster and postcard series for people to put their favorites on display in their workspace.”


Art at Viacom Project leaders Susan Claxton and Cheryl Family






Viacom, already known for multifaceted creativity, has their Viacom Lab, a state-of-the art endeavor that utilizes virtual reality, GIFs, live streaming and immersive experiences to up engagement and the fan experience. Their Art at Viacom project has made a name for itself by redefining the aesthetics of the workplace.


Viacom is doing something that is always proof-positive: emphasizing creative activities and including them back into the actual work culture.



3. Accenture Strategy


“We were turning words into notes and notes into the symphony. [We wanted to] evoke the emotion that a lot of the work we do with clients [brings] an emotional connection.”


Mark Knickrehm

Group Chief Executive at Accenture Strategy



Accenture Strategy created "Symphonologie: the Music of Business", a symphonic experience, to combine human insight and artificial intelligence. The work debuted inside the Louvre Pyramid where it was performed by a 50-piece orchestra and relays a musical message about technology and business. This isn’t a surprise as Accenture Strategy is known for combining deep business insight with the understanding of how technology will impact industry and business models.


By using the arts to translate their business message Accenture Strategy is showing how arts, technology, and strategy can unlock a new point of view.



Photos: Google Data Center Mural in Council Bluffs, Art at Viacom Tumblr, Accenture Strategy


Making Room For and Encouraging Spirited Play

Posted by Jessica Gaines
Making Room For and Encouraging Spirited Play

A barrier to including arts into a business can be the age-old question “How?”. Leadership for many companies wonder how will they do this, and after that, what is the benefit, what does this look like, and more. And while having a fully integrated arts program in your business can be award-worthy (see: Americans for the Arts honors the 10 best businesses in the country that partner with the arts), sometimes it’s important to acknowledge the little steps that can be made in this direction.


Like, play.


Creating an environment of play can generate space for creativity to flourish.


In the article “The Power of Play at Work,” Michelle Burke, team and workplace specialist, shares insight from the founder of the National Institute for Play, “Not only does having a playful atmosphere attract young talent, but experts say play at work can boost creativity and productivity in people of all ages. There is good evidence that if you allow employees to engage in something they want to do, (which) is playful, there are better outcomes in terms of productivity and motivation.”


The pARTnership Movement agrees. And this type of play can take on many artistic forms:



Michelle further details about play, “… employees are more engaged, collaborative, focused when they are working, more creative and ultimately perform better,” noting companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Ideo, all known for work environments that make room for and encourage play.


Water Conservation is Music to Our Ears

Posted by Chris Zheng
Water Conservation is Music to Our Ears

The arts and business can easily flow together, even when it comes to water conservation. Just ask Kohler Co., a global leader in manufacturing kitchen products, engines and power systems, premier furniture, and the operator of two five-star hospitality and golf resort destinations. Kohler recently teamed up with The Nature Conservancy, a leading conservation organization located in all 50 states and more than 69 countries, and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival to promote smart water use to over 36,000 concert attendees.


Based on research from the EPA WaterSense program, Kohler noted that the average American adult spends 8 minutes in the shower, using 18 gallons of water each time. In the spirit of conservation and music, Kohler started the #CommitToSix campaign to get Kohler customers and Bonnaroo concertgoers to cut their water use by 25 percent by shortening their shower time by just two minutes. Showers at the festival facilities were equipped with Kohler Moxie Bluetooth-enabled showerheads, allowing people to enjoy quality music while becoming more aware of the amount of time they spent in the shower.

Senior manager of sustainability at Kohler stated “whether you sing in the shower or not, pledging to cut just a few minutes of shower time is a simple way that festival-goers, music fans and everyone else can reduce water use.” Through partnering with the arts in a music festival like Bonnaroo, Kohler is making it easier than ever to sing in the shower and save water.


With a partnership that so perfectly blends business, arts, and advocacy, it should come as no surprise that both Kohler and Bonnaroo are previous recipients of Americans for the Arts’ BCA 10 Awards (Bonnaroo’s award is via parent company is AC Entertainment), being among the top ten businesses recognized every year for being the partners of the arts. Whether it’s a song in the key of C or a sea of fans, Kohler and Bonnaroo are taking on corporate responsibility with the arts.  


Photo: KOHLER® Moxie Showerhead


Feeling the Beat: Creating Music for the Deaf

Posted by Jordan Shue


Music is generally synonymous with hearing. At an EDM concert, you probably wouldn’t expect a single deaf person to be in the crowd, let alone an entire audience of people without the ability to hear. Recently, 7UP partnered with chart topping DJ Martin Garrix at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami to present Music Lifts You Up, a concert specifically tailored to deaf patrons.


7UP recognizes the potential of engaging not just with music but also with a group that is traditionally marginalized from the industry: “Music has power beyond sound. You don’t have to hear it to feel it. That’s why we teamed UP with Martin Garrix to put on a surprise concert for the Deaf so they could experience music in a whole new way.”


Using technology configured by experimental artists, 7UP and Garrix translated sound into a tactile and visual experience. Concert-goers danced on speakers underneath their feet, carried personal speakers designed into backpacks, and watched puddles of water in containers bounce to the beat.


The international soda brand’s support of Music Lifts You Up not only provided footage of a one-of-a-kind performance, but also provided an outlet for members of the deaf community to address how music plays an important role in their lives and how the conversion of music into other sensory forms creates a transformative experience for them.


The concert reflected 7UP’s support of a diverse and inclusive community through a musically, ultra-sensory experience, proving that though not everyone can always hear the music, anyone can feel the music.


Cruise Liner Supports Anchors of the Local Arts Scene

Posted by Kate Reese
Cruise Liner Supports Anchors of the Local Arts Scene

It probably comes as no shock that the people at Carnival Cruise Line know how to throw party, but readers may be surprised to know that Carnival has been using this skill to benefit the arts in communities where they dock. In conjunction with the company’s recent addition of the Carnival Triumph to their New Orleans fleetwhich operates year-round and is estimated to carry 45,000 passengers each yearCarnival recently organized an entertaining charity event to raise money for music organizations who make the City of Jazz, well, so jazzy.


This raucous event revolved around an American-Idol style competition in which four local music organizations competed for $35,000 worth of donations. The competitors included Shamarr Allen, competing on behalf of the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Jazz C singer; saxophonist Robin Barnes, competing for the Tipitina's Foundation; and Derek Douget, representing The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation. The competition was as convivial as the city these organizations call home, but at the end of the day the Tipitina's Foundation took home the $15,000 first prize, while the other groups split $20,000 in runner-up funds.


Carnival also partnered with the Port of New Orleans, which has been essential in economic development in New Orleans, using its status as a port city to attract business investment and travelers.

This event reflects a larger drive by the international cruise company to engage with local communities and support the creative character of their brand. As the Crescent City’s largest cruise operator, Carnival has shown that when supporting the local arts scene by throwing a fabulous party, one can never go overboard (pun very much intended).


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


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