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.