Arts and business news from around the country.


Corporate Culture Goes Cultural

Posted by Jessica Stern
Corporate Culture Goes Cultural

A sample of the pieces created by employees of The Standard. (Photo by Liang Liang)


I’m not going to lie, I really don’t know much about visual art. It’s embarrassing as an “arts” administrator because my brother is an accomplished artist, my mother is a wildly creative interior designer, and my father fashions some of the most impressive urban development project management documents around.


Now, I could tell you all about Romantic-era composers, and go on about West African beats and argue why their current grooves are an aural history lesson of the slave-trade and post-colonialism, but when it comes to visual art, I just really don’t know a lot.

What I do know is, 1) generally speaking, I like visual art a lot and 2) I love seeing art by people who don’t consider themselves professional artists.


Enter reason #17 or so why I love my job: The ongoing charge to recognize businesses that make a special effort to unleash the inner artist in their accountants, actuaries, techies, and administrators.


So, naturally I was overjoyed to receive an invite last month to attend the opening of The Standard’s 2nd Annual ARTS (Artists in Residence at The Standard) Show.


The Standard, a financial services company, is one of Portland’s largest private employers, with approximately 2,200 individuals working in the state. This 106-year-old Oregon-born company was founded originally as a life insurance company with a goal to “champion the needs of the local community.” That value of being a community champion still rings true and The Standard is continually recognized for its charitable work, in addition to being a great supporter of arts and culture.


Always on Business for Culture & the Arts’ (BCA) list of the Top Business Donors to the Arts, The Standard ranked as the #1 Business Donor to the Arts in 2010 in the Portland Metro Area and #2 in the state of Oregon. Last year, in BCA’s cumulative study of 10 years of data, The Standard ranked #6 in the state of Oregon (having contributed over $1.8 million to arts and culture in 10 years).


Whether it’s through volunteerism, employee team scavenger hunts or direct giving, in addition to insurance, this company does something exquisitely: they honor their employees.


But back to ARTS…I’m familiar with programs that other Business Committees for the Arts run in other cities like On My Own Time (Denver) and art@work (Kansas City), but I hadn’t realized that some companies take it upon themselves to highlight the artistic talents of their staff.


I wasn’t able to make last year’s ARTS opening event and so I didn’t have an expectation of what I would encounter in an insurance company’s employee-only art show. Imagine my delight when I got off the elevator and saw that this was not just a room blocked off for some drawings and paintings; The Standard dedicated an entire building floor to showcase the creative fruits of their staff!


A sample of the pieces created by employees of The Standard. (Photo by Liang Liang)

Once inside, I had to continually pick my jaw up from the floor. The employees of The Standard are TALENTED! Every medium was represented: painting, pen and ink, stained glass, quilting, beading and jewelry, photography, sculpture, you name it. I was especially delighted to see one of BCA’s Board Members showing off two exquisite oil paintings. I had no idea!


And therein lies the beauty of what The Standard has done for the second year in a row for their employees.


When you’re not a self-described artist, or you have a day job that maybe you love (maybe not?), often our time to create gets put into another box outside the workplace. That creativity tends to become part of our “other” self; separated from the time we spend in the “real world” doing “grown-up” things. By creating a space to showcase employee art, The Standard has bridged the gap between personal and professional in an inspiring way.


It takes our thinking from, “Oh, there’s Joe over there, he’s a claims analyst,” to “There’s Joe over there, he’s an analyst and also makes really interesting mix-media collages. I saw them at the employee art show last year.” We learn to appreciate our colleagues for all of themselves, not just the person we see at a desk for eight hours a day.


This experience of showing one’s art in the workplace gives employees an opportunity to open what is normally a very private part of their lives for their colleagues in order to appreciate one another’s talents.


It’s been proven that companies who blur that personal/professional line and focus on the whole self and well-being of their employees see greater productivity and less turnover. We also know intrinsically that corporate art collections make for visually stimulating work spaces, which also keep employees happy.


At a recent testimony before Portland City Council to refer a public funding measure for arts education and access to the ballot, a gentleman implored City Commissioners to imagine Council Chambers without the paintings and sculptures that enhanced the space. He encouraged them to imagine their difficult jobs without that creative inspiration.


This was a poignant moment, and one that I think about when visiting businesses. I realize how much more uplifted I am when I’m surrounded by beautiful or challenging art, even though I don’t know much about technique or the great artists that came before to inform a certain style. I appreciate the companies who provide stimulating surroundings for their employees and think about how much more pleasant a workplace it must be.


That The Standard opened its walls to its own employees not only tells me their corporate culture is one that wants to keep people happy, it tells me that they know creativity and appreciation for a colleague’s work will continually boost company spirits, encourage people to know one another a little better, and appreciate the multi-faceted lives we all live.


It tells me that by using art as a means for connection, we infuse our daily surroundings with inspiration that can only inform and encourage progress in the daily cycle of business and work.


*This was originally posted on ARTSblog.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More News

Businesses Committee for the Arts Open for Nominations
Mar 22, 2018 0 Comments
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99;...
Go to full post
Listen Up, Drink Up
Mar 20, 2018 0 Comments
2016 BCA 10 Winner Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (DE) has an impressive history of supporting and collaborating with the music industry. As part of their Off-Centered Art Series, Dogfish Head Brewery creates seasonal beers. In honor...
Go to full post
360 Degrees of Dance, Design, and Technology
Mar 15, 2018 0 Comments
Last week, Barney’s New York, Samsung Electronics America, and Martha Graham Dance Company unveiled the new Window on Madison Ave. Combining fashion, tech, and art, the display offers passersby, shoppers, and art enthusiasts...
Go to full post
NYC Business Provides World Class Platform for Youth Creativity
Mar 01, 2018 0 Comments
Everyone faces challenges; but not everyone has the tools to overcome them. What happens when companies provide resources and recognition to young people to work through these issues in creative, safe spaces? Change.   Scholastic...
Go to full post
Art & Water: The Two Essentials
Feb 22, 2018 0 Comments
It’s been a year since we featured LIFEWTR for their collaboration with artists for the design on their bottles of purified water. The company believes that its dynamic bottle labels is what will give the brand an edge over its...
Go to full post
Hospitality for the Arts
Feb 20, 2018 0 Comments
When searching for hotels, people are drawn to places that exude a sense of intention and creativity. A hotel’s aesthetics thus play a key role in its success –  as an industry, the hospitality world already has a need to be...
Go to full post
For Artists, By Artists: Supporting Each Other Through Business
Feb 15, 2018 0 Comments
As an artist, Craig “KR” Costello saw a need for efficient graffiti mediums. As a businessperson, he solved the hole in the market.   Graffiti artists in New York were all about mobility, painting subway cars through the City...
Go to full post
Music and Resilience in Osceola County
Feb 13, 2018 0 Comments
In the aftermath of the hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, over 2,300 students have been relocated to Florida. In Osceola County, arts educators and business leaders are partnering to provide support for...
Go to full post
Interested in measuring business support for the arts in your community?
Jan 23, 2018 0 Comments
Since 1969, Americans for the Arts through the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), has been conducting the National Survey of Business Support for the Arts. Now, conducted annually in partnership with The Conference Board...
Go to full post
New David Rockefeller BCA pARTnership Award
Jan 08, 2018 0 Comments
Americans for the Arts announced today that the David Rockefeller Fund will invest in a four-year presenting sponsorship of the new David Rockefeller BCA pARTnership Award. Given annually, the award will honor a company and arts...
Go to full post
Nation's United Arts Funds Raise $85.5 million for the Arts in 2016
Jan 02, 2018 0 Comments
Throughout the summer of 2017, the Americans for the Arts Private Sector Initiatives department solicited responses to the FY2016 United Arts Fund Campaign Survey. Surveys were distributed to a total of 45 united arts funds by...
Go to full post
Nominate the Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts
Dec 11, 2017 0 Comments
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2018 BCA 10 AWARDS Every year, Americans for the Arts through its Business Committee for the Arts, honors the 10 best businesses partnering with the arts in America. Submissions close January 19. ...
Go to full post
Award-Winning Examples of Companies Supporting the Arts
Nov 21, 2017 0 Comments
The arts are an economic driver. According to the Arts & Economic Prosperity study, released by Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity during 2015, which...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: AC Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee
Nov 14, 2017 0 Comments
Known as one of the foremost concert promoters and festival producers in the United States, AC Entertainment celebrates the arts by bringing first-class live entertainment experiences to music lovers from around the world. Founded...
Go to full post

Already a partner?

Already a partner?

Learn easy ways to take your partnership to a new level.

Use our ads locally

Use our ads locally

View The pARTnership Movement ad campaign and find ways to use the ads.

pARTnership videos

pARTnership videos

Watch and share our videos from The pARTnership Movement.

Partnership ideas

Partnership ideas

Inspire employees with tickets to the ballet or a concert.

Are you an arts group?

Are you an arts group?

Get listed in our searchable directory.

Recruit talent

Recruit talent

Employees want to live and work in a vibrant community.