An interview with Stephanie Babich Mihleder, Global Citizenship and Sustainability, BNY Mellon
Americans for the Arts is proud to present an interview with Stephanie Babich Mihleder, Global Citizenship and Sustainability for BNY Mellon. BNY Mellon was named a BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honoree in 2015.
Q) Can you give us an overview of BNY Mellon’s arts support?
Over the course of its more than 230 year history, our company has supported and worked with many leading art and cultural institutions around the world. BNY Mellon’s support of the arts is an extension of the company's rich cultural heritage. In 2015, our company provided more than $2 million in corporate grants and sponsorships to support the arts.
BNY Mellon's art collection serves to enhance the workplace, stimulate creativity and reinforce the company's longstanding support for the arts. Through an active loan program with museums and galleries across the world, the collection creates positive visibility and strategic opportunities to connect with clients and employees.
The company matches donations for arts organizations at 50 percent with a cap of $10,000 for all eligible charities. Employees also receive matching donations for their volunteer time and paid time off to volunteer for eligible charities, including arts organizations.
There are numerous art related programs for employees, including occasional workplace performances.
Q) How did the jazz program first come about at BNY Mellon?
Pittsburgh has had a huge influence on the jazz world and is one of the foremost cities for developing jazz artists. Many of the jazz greats were from Pittsburgh and, due to the rich jazz culture, Pittsburgh had a thriving jazz scene and was always a tour stop for performers. BNY Mellon has always had a major focus on the arts, and so BNY Mellon Jazz was created in the Pittsburgh region to give back to the community.
Q) How has the program evolved over the years?
This year (2016) BNY Mellon Jazz celebrates its 30th year in Pittsburgh. Throughout that time, numerous local nonprofits have received support from this initiative and thousands of artists have played under its banner, including Tony Bennett, George Benson, Diana Krall, and Al Jarreau. By partnering with nonprofit organizations and educational institutions, BNY Mellon Jazz underwrites jazz concerts and concert series, CDs, educational initiatives, and scholarships. This year-round focus provides cultural and educational institutions with exceptional opportunities to offer the best in jazz artistry under the BNY Mellon Jazz brand. BNY Mellon Jazz started with a Festival for the Pittsburgh community that has transitioned over time to a robust program where presently 13 different organizations are involved.
Q) What are some of the organizations you partner with on your jazz programs?
The 13 organizations we work with are very diverse. For example, we work with the University of Pittsburgh facilitating an annual scholarship for a jazz student. We work with organizations like Citiparks and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust who facilitate community jazz shows. We are the title sponsor of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s JazzLive. This program has a weekly jazz show in the downtown area that is free to the public. We partner with Manchester Craftmen’s Guild for the MCG Jazz series at their concert hall. They are the most popular jazz subscription series in the United States and bring high caliber performers to the Pittsburgh area. We have also partnered with the Grammy Award winning MCG production team to produce CDs. One of the most interesting organizations we have worked with is City of Asylum. This organization provides sanctuary to endangered artists. Each year they organize a jazz poetry concert that showcases these artists’ talents and stories. Every year seems to bring something new as there are always new opportunities. For example, in 2014 we worked with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to be the title sponsor of a Tony Bennett performance.
Q) Did your partners approach you first or did you find them?
Most of our partners approached us with sponsorship requests.
Q) How does the jazz program help BNY Mellon to put your company in the spotlight?
Supporting the arts creates positive visibility for the company’s brand and demonstrates goodwill in the communities where BNY Mellon operates. Many of our sponsorship benefits include tickets to performances or special events that we can use for client-entertainment.
Q) What do you love about BNY Mellon’s jazz program?
People in Pittsburgh are extremely passionate about jazz and I am proud to be part of an organization that brings so many jazz related opportunities to the community. My personal favorite is all of the free concerts that we sponsor. Anyone can partake in those and they are spread all throughout the city.
Photo: Sean Jones plays at a JazzLive show, a free year-round weekly concert for the Pittsburgh community sponsored by BNY Mellon in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.