Milliken & Company has a secret weapon. The chemical, floor covering and textile manufacturer, headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, knows that the arts encourage innovation and creative solutions—something that has been engrained in the company culture for more than a century, which is why the company was selected as a 2014 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honoree. (Photo credit: Fountain by artist Harold Krisel, located at the Roger Milliken Center, courtesy of Milliken & Company.)
Milliken actively supports STEAM education—a movement that works to integrate the arts into a curriculum comprised of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Several of the design employees and scientists at Milliken serve as advisors for the STEAM Teacher’s Institute, hosted by the Chapman Cultural Center, and many partake in panel discussions about the importance of innovation in art and design in schools and in workplaces.
With the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg (TAP), Milliken helps to provide over 40 week-long professional artist residencies each year that align with core curriculum, and sponsors performances of music, dance, theatre and opera in schools throughout Spartanburg County. The company’s desire to connect more students to creative problem solving and strategic thinking has led Milliken to explore replicating the artist residency model with its scientists, furthering the integration of creativity and scientific learning.
Since 1992, Milliken has partnered with Spartanburg School District One to display the winners of its annual district-wide art competition. Milliken has the artwork professionally framed and prominently featured on easels throughout its corporate headquarters. To recognize Milliken’s commitment to student art, School District One created the Milliken Art Gallery in its District Office, placed prominently along the corridor leading to the District Board Room. Cindy Riddle, District One Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts, states, “The placement of the Milliken Art Gallery is strategic as an indication of the importance of the Arts in District One and the artistic expression that is encouraged in our student-centered district.”
In addition, Milliken & Company curates an “Innovation Gallery” in its Customer Service Center at its company headquarters—a creative visual storyboard of the company’s history, values, and legacy. A virtual gallery is available here. In-person tours of the galleries in Spartanburg and Shanghai are often made available to local students.
“Innovation, art, and design are the heart of our corporation, and are inherent in our training… Communities with thriving arts programs are proven to exude stronger and more vibrant cultures—and dare to ‘do good’ for the world,” said Joe Salley, president and CEO of Milliken & Company. “The arts open our minds to the seemingly impossible and help us think with fresh perspectives, which is what our nearly 7,000 associates worldwide do every day to bring the Milliken spirit of innovation to life.”
For more information on 2014 BCA 10 honoree Milliken & Company, visit Milliken.com.