Last night, Americans for the Arts recognized several outstanding businesses that support the arts during the annual BCA 10: Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America.
Set in the elegant Central Park Boathouse in New York City, the Awards Ceremony fell somewhere between formal banquet and lighthearted celebration.
The evening began at 6:00, when the honorees and their guests arrived. The excitement in the room was almost palpable as CEOs, vice presidents, and managers, representing businesses small and large from all across America mingled, brought together by their common passion for supporting the arts.
It was during the acceptance speeches that it became clear how, for these companies, supporting the arts is far more than a philanthropic duty.
The speeches were deeply inspiring: Floyd Green, of Aetna, asked those assembled to try and imagine life without the arts, before concluding it to be an impossible task; Trish Doll, of Publicity Works, spoke out against austerity cuts to arts funding, challenging Americans to “compromise elsewhere;” and Herbert Kohler spoke about the artistic mission of his family’s company by quoting the art critic John Ruskin, who famously stated that “Life without labor is guilt; labor without art is brutality.”
It was obvious that these businesses and individuals are deeply committed to furthering the arts, both in their local communities and across the nation.
Each individual that stood to speak, whether they were honorees, board member, or performers, returned time and time again to a central theme: that the arts are too important to be brushed to the side and forgotten.
Instead, the evening reinforced that businesses need to embrace the arts, not just for the sake of supporting art, but to improve business itself.
The evening, and the honorees, are perfect examples of how when arts and businesses get together, everyone profits—artists, businesses, and communities alike.
The 2011 BCA 10 honorees are:
• 3M, St. Paul, MN
• Aetna, Hartford, CT
• Baker Botts L.L.P., Houston, TX
• Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, VA
• Corporate Office Properties Trust, Columbia, MD
• Macy’s, Cincinnati, OH
• Printing Partners, Indianapolis, IN
• Publicity Works, Bowmansville, PA
• Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL
• Wilde Lexus of Sarasota, Sarasota, FL
Kohler Co. was inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame and Christopher Forbes, Vice Chairman, Forbes Inc. received the BCA Leadership Award.