Business support of the arts is widespread across almost every continent, with examples from countries ranging from the United States to India to Mexico, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
In the United States, Americans for the Arts’ Private Sector Initiatives department along with a plethora of local Arts & Business Councils and Business Committees for the Arts across the country celebrate the great work businesses and arts organizations can do when they decide to partner. Each year, Americans for the Arts hosts BCA 10, a special night that honors 10 companies that practice exceptional involvement in the arts community in a way that enriches workplace, education and community. These businesses are nominated by local arts organizations and contend against many stand-out companies. Nominees span a wide swath of industries ranging from real estate and finance all the way to healthcare and consumer products and goods, including both small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. The 10 finalists are celebrated at the BCA 10 gala in New York City, which takes place in The Central Park Boathouse each year.
America is not alone in fostering a business community that supports the arts.
Internationally, companies understand the importance of giving back to the community, preserving and dispersing cherished cultural artifacts and cultivating local, regional and national pride through the arts.
Arts communities around the world in turn, celebrate and acknowledge these champions of culture and heritage.
For instance, recently Forbes India honored GVK, an energy, airport, transportation, hospitality and life science conglomerate headquartered in Hyderabad, India, with the designation of Corporate Commitment of the Year.
GVK recently converted 439,000 square meters of space in Terminal 2 at the Mumbai International Airport (MIA) into an impressive installation of art works and cultural artifacts from across the country. Art impacts every facet of the Terminal, with contemporary engineering and design all the way to traditional Indian arts throughout the ages and works created by women in villages living nearby.
“Frankly, it is not done for foreign nationals — it is done for Indians who I feel have learned to forget what the true beauty of India is,” according to Sanjav Reddy, managing director of the joint venture that governs Mumbai’s airport.
In Mexico, numerous companies are awarded honors for supporting the arts through their foundations, such as the Caixa Foundation. Per Mundo Ejecutivo, there are approximately 131 corporate foundations within Mexico alone – and this support is not just concentrated amongst large, national organizations. Thirty-six percent of the corporate foundations actually stem from smaller businesses.
The notion of smaller to medium sized businesses celebrating local heritage, culture and innovation through the arts is found in South Africa as well. Business and Arts South Africa (NPC) is an organization focused on creating mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses and the arts. For the past 19 years, it has recognized businesses in the community that create successful partnerships with local artists and arts organizations with the BASA Awards, which honor small businesses, such as Mathews and Associates Architects which supported the Cool Capital Biennale Pretoria showcase of new ideas and designs, and Pam Golding Properties, a real estate company that sponsored the popular Knysna Literary Festival featuring South African talent such as Hugh Masekela and Nik Rabinowitz.
Arts & Business Scotland has maintained an Arts & Business Scotland Awards event for the past 30 years acknowledging small, national and international businesses from the likes of Deloitte to ArtPistol, a social enterprise for promoting UK artists.
Event awardees say there is magic in the mix of organizations, given smaller firms compete with large organizations for the same recognition, and take great pride in the accomplishment of winning.
“For such a small and new organization as IFS Worldwide & Cultural Documents it’s a massive endorsement when you think about the competition and short listers – it is a great honor to get an award” said a representative from IFS Worldwide and Cultural Documents.