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400 Businesses Acknowledge the Importance of the Arts

Posted by Mariama Holman
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400 Businesses Acknowledge the Importance of the Arts

Since 2005, Americans for the Arts’ BCA 10 Awards has received nominations for over 400 businesses across the country that see the importance of cultivating the arts and culture sector for the betterment of their companies and the local community.

 

In the eyes of Badger Meter, a 2016 BCA 10: Best Business Partnering with the Arts in America honoree and leading global manufacturing and innovation company in the water utility metering market, innovation fostered through the arts was the key to their success.

 

This company gives credit to its achievements as an 100+ year old, multimillion dollar publicly-traded company to a culture of creativity and innovation.

 

Badger Meter sees the arts as crucial to employee recruitment and retention as well as cultivating talent locally and regionally. CEO Richard A. Meeusen’s speech at the October 5, 2016 BCA 10 gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City celebrated and acknowledged the arts as significant force in stimulating critical thinking and relevant work-place skills among staff.

 

This is why he advocates for STEAM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum that incorporates the arts):

“At Badger Meter, my best engineers are all musicians…My best sales people were on stage at one time. My best marketing people were involved in the visual arts. Those are skills you can’t just teach… somehow they were developed through their education.”

 

He also added that the arts are key to the future: “Twenty years from now I want my business to be successful, and I need the arts to continue to produce the highly creative individuals that we as a country have produced over the last 200 years. We need to make sure for the next 200 years, art programs are available to our youth.”

Badger Meter is certainly not alone in believing in the power of STEAM.

 

The chief information officer of Deloitte, one of the largest management consulting firms in America, recently argued in favor of STEAM in education. According to Larry Quinlan, "It's not enough to be technologically brilliant. We need senior people who understand business processes, too."

 

As the world becomes more technologically specialized, businesses seek hires that have excellent ‘people skills’ – individuals that know how to build consensus, manage relationships and read the room to manage teams through complex environments to creatively achieve organizational objectives. 

 

The arts and social sciences are critical in fostering these abilities. That is why schools like Yale, Mount Holyoke, and Washington and Lee are using more of an integrated approach in teaching students about business, helping them learn soft skills that demonstrate how business is not isolated from the social underworkings of a community, but a part of a greater context.

 

The business world is seeking more well-rounded thinkers, doers, movers and shakers to meet their needs. 

 

The market responses with pay demonstrates the value of being well-rounded in the workforce. According to Forbes, individuals with balanced strengths in both social and math skills actually command a salary premium, 10 percent more earnings than those who are strong in just one area or the other.

 

From the inception of Badger Meter over 100 years ago, all the way to the present day, the arts and creativity drive employee innovation, and innovation keeps businesses alive.

 

For more information on Badger Meter, the Milwaukee Wisconsin-based 2016 BCA 10: Best Business Partnering with the Arts in America honoree, please view its success story, “A Champion for Steam and Innovation,” on the pARTnership Movement Success Stories’ page.

 

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Solving Problems and Challenging the Status Quo with pARTnerships

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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When entering a new year, many individuals and businesses alike desire a fresh start.  In personal lives, the changes may appear in a new diet or workout routine while at work it may be goal setting or performance evaluations.  Keeping with the idea of crafting new habits and letting go of outdated approaches, there’s a space for the arts to help advance goals by solving some of yesterday’s problems and challenging the “modus operindi”.

 

These three highlights below are a quick reminder of the possibilities of art and business partnerships that are successful and purposeful.

 

In the work environment, consider that working solely for productivity can become lackluster.

A company or industry that is technology-heavy or project-focused, may find that team performance needs a boost. Altering a method, adding Arts into STEM to become STEAM, can improve the process for businesses grounded in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math. One thing that Denis Lacasse, leader in web, software, and gaming fields, and his team instituted was bringing together employees of different disciplines and backgrounds. When these new teams, comprised of artists, game designers, and engineers, worked together their productivity and zeal increased due to their common connection of being passionate gamers focused on an end goal.

 

Consider that people want to live and work in a vibrant community.

In one Philadelphia neighborhood, there was a general understanding that the area was not safe at night, even with street lights. Although near a bustling bar and cheesesteak restaurant scene, the late-night hours of the neighborhood were either extremely desolate or filled with prostitution, underage drinking and dumping trash. Lighting designer Drew Billiau and mural artist David Guinn were able to pilot glowing street-art-styled murals on a few homes which began a neighborhood transformation all its own. Although there was reluctance from some neighbors in the beginning, the success of the initial glowing murals cultivated enough support to add more on the street for increased safety.

 

Consider that internal culture and external messaging often get old and stale. 

When seeking a way to renew a message (either internally to employees or externally to the public), remember to integrate the arts as a business asset.  By using Arts-Based Initiatives, “businesses can generate value from existing relationships with the arts, as well as an opportunity to establish new relationships, by exploiting the knowledge and skills within the sector for their own competitive advantage.” Investment firm, Scottish Windows, did just that by developing an Arts@Work program that injected arts into company culture and employees reported increased productivity and business benefits.  ABI's are suited for enhancing company messaging and company culture to overall posivitely affect business objectives and strategies. 

 

More information on bringing the arts into a business approach can be found in the pARTnership Movement essays

 

If you know of a business successfully pARTnering with the arts, please nominate them for the 2017 BCA: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts. Nomiations close January 13, 2017.

 

Photo credit: Fast Company

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Technical Creativity: How Science and Art are Picking Up STEAM

Posted by Chris Zheng
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Technical Creativity: How Science and Art are Picking Up STEAM

In the left versus right brain debate, business is traditionally pushed to the left. But the true answer, much like the compromise needed in a business deal, lies somewhere in between. Corporations and businesses have increasingly listed creative thinking as a primary desired skill alongside more traditionally expected skills like technical literacy and statistical analysis. In the same vein, educators are realizing that the tenants of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are not mutually exclusive with the world of the arts. Now, the movement’s momentum is shifting from STEM to STEAM, an incorporation of Art and Design into a traditionally scientific focus on learning.

 

Qualcomm Technologies engineer Molly Nicholas detailed this shift in a recent blog post where she reflects on the risk businesses run when they ignore the arts: “like the challenges professional engineers face, inspiring kids to consider careers in STEM requires a multi-faceted approach. A one-size-fits-all mindset misses wide swaths of future coders. It misses freeform, creative, artful thinkers. It almost missed me.”

 

The post goes on to detail the first market to catch on to the transition towards arts-oriented engineering: toy manufacturers. For instance, the LilyPad consists of a system of Arduino-based circuits which can be sewn into backpacks, dresses, pillows, and stuffed animals. Circuit Scribe allows users to actually doodle circuits using conductive ink. These toys bridge the gap between STEM and STEAM, creating open platforms for craft and expression through the means of basic electrical engineering.

 

The necessity of pairing a technical understanding with a creative one cannot be undersold. Different methods of thinking empower engineers, scientists, and coders to define boundaries and eventually break them. As Nicholas explains, “a hardware engineer, for instance, might not be pushed to advance and adapt technologies without creative minds to test the limits. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how powerful your processor is if no one's using it for anything.”

 

The scientific field is not the only beneficiary in this partnership. Artists who learn the skills of computation improve their ability to recognize patterns, solve open-ended questions, and break large problems down into manageable sets. Through this cognitive development, an artist can explore an expanded field of thought, where “a painter trained in computational thinking may invent a new type of paintbrush that enables unique modes of expression. Or a theatrical costume designer might develop a method to make her creations modular and reusable.”

 

The idea of a symbiotic relationship between the arts and science is not a new idea. However, the integration of the arts and the execution of STEAM is a cause that needs continued support. Through this acceptance, you might be surprised to see just how many engineers have a creative mind, and how many artists have a scientific drive.  

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Celebrating STEAM at NASDAQ

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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On February 4, 2016, We Connect The Dots–a STEAM education program–joined with Microsoft to ring the opening bell of the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City.

 

The ceremony celebrated the success of We Connect the Dots, its partnership with Microsoft, and their collective work to close the opportunity divide in technology, education and STEAM education. We Connect the Dots was founded by former Microsoft employee Laurie Carey.

 

The event signaled to business leaders worldwide the value of arts education in creating tomorrow's leaders in the business world and beyond.

 

"In addition to being one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, Microsoft is dedicated to addressing the opportunity divide that too many young people face. Working with nonprofits like We Connect the Dots, Microsoft is working to close the gap between those that have access to the skills and training they need to be successful, and those who do not." --Michael Sokoll, CFA, Senior Managing Director on the Market Intelligence Desk

 

o ring the opening bell of the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City. - See more at: http://www.americansforthearts.org/news-room/art-in-the-news/steam-program-rings-nasdaq-opening-bell?utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=poherron@artsusa.org&utm_content=creativity%5Fconnection%5F2%5F4%5F16&utm_campaign=Creativity%20Connection%3A%20February%202016#sthash.HQJtWDz5.dpuf
We Connect The Dots – a STEAM education program

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Astronaut Alvin Drew Calls for More Arts Education

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Astronaut Alvin Drew Calls for More Arts Education

In Washington last month, a former NASA astronaut, Alvin Drew, proposed adding arts and humanities to the core subject areas of science, technology, education, and math (changing STEM to STEAM). Drew traveled to space twice, but once he returned to Earth, he found that he had trouble expressing what he saw.

 

According to inverse.com, Drew was part of a panel that gave the State of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Address, a follow-up to what President Obama said about science during his final State of the Union.

 

Drew felt that the public tends to shy away from engaging with hard science because "it's easy to get lost while navigating equations and ethereal concepts," the article explains.

 

“If you have the best idea in the world but you can’t communicate it to everybody else, then that idea stays locked up in your head and you have to be able to convey that idea” Drew said. “A lot of what we do in science and technology is intimidating to people because you’re learning a new language…learning math is not different from learning Russian.” He expressed a need for people who can explain complicated scientific concepts in an engaging way.

 

According to inverse.com, White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith echoed Drew's assertions, bringing up Star Wars: The Force Awakens as an example: “It took a lot of technology to make those movies and also an extraordinary imagination and a lot of art,” Smith said. “Art and tech aren’t separate from each other.”

 

Find more articles about the STEAM movement and how arts education helps build a stronger, more creative workforce.

 

Photo credit:Sam Howzit, Flickr.

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BBVA Compass CEO Advocates for STEAM

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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BBVA Compass CEO Advocates for STEAM

This Thanksgiving, when you're thinking about everything you're grateful for, don't forget to give thanks for your arts education. Many children today do not have access to adequate arts education, which expands creativity and leads to increased job opportunities.

 

Arts education advocates had a big moment last week when Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) added an amendment to the rewrite of the nation’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), integrating the arts into STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). Learn more about this important legislation.

 

In a recent op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, Manolo Sanchez, CEO of 2014 BCA 10 honoree BBVA Compass, argues on behalf of arts education and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). "Exposure to the arts - to the endless possibilities of exploration in music, art, dance, drama - has the power to spark the kind of creativity that can lead to student achievement across many disciplines. It helps kids learn how to take intellectual risks and to dig deep into their brains to make complex connections," he says.

 

In this op-ed, Sanchez introduces a new musicians-in-residence program at Crespo Elementary School in Southeast Houston, a joint venture by the Houston Independent School District and Houston Symphony, with support from BBVA Compass. Crespo is a fine arts magnet school with a student population that's 95 percent economically disadvantaged and 97 percent Hispanic.The program is inspired by a "time-tested and respected initiative pioneered by the New York Philharmonic." According to Sanchez, "two Community Embedded Musicians from the Houston Symphony will teach third-, fourth- and fifth-graders about the power of classical music, reaching more than 400 economically disadvantaged students each year."

 

Sanchez claims, "Studies have found that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were significantly more likely to excel in math if they'd had music education. Non-native English speakers are also able to pick up the language faster through the use of music."

 

"It's in the private sector's interest to step up and fund arts initiatives. It's good corporate citizenship, but it's also smart business," Sanchez asserts. "Those who do will be helping to bring the magic of the arts to students who might otherwise be unable to experience it, yes. But they're also helping build the kind of workforce that sees the world in innovative new ways - a critical skill for this 21st century."

 

Read the full op-ed here.

 

Learn more about Americans for the Arts' arts education initiatives.

 

Read more stories about businesses supporting arts education.

 

Photo: Manolo Sanchez at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. BBVA Compass and the BBVA Compass Foundation sponsored an exhibition from Dec. 16, 2012, through March 31, 2013, of more than 100 European paintings from Madrid’s famed Museo del Prado at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – the first time a collection of its size was ever shown outside of Spain.

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"It Takes a Village..." Why Aetna Supports STEAM Education

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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"It Takes a Village..." Why Aetna Supports STEAM Education

On May 7, 2015, Americans for the Arts attended a STEAM Assembly in New York City hosted by VH1 Save the Music, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring music programs in America’s public schools and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education. Panelists from the worlds of education, the arts, business, and media came together to share best practices, personal stories, research, and ideas on incorporating the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based curriculum.

 

The panelists included Aetna’s Senior Director of Community Relations & Urban Marketing, Miguel Centeno, who explained that promoting “[STEAM education] takes a village, and businesses are an important part of that village.” He laid out three reasons why Aetna “fundamentally supports STEAM [over the STEM education model].”

 

  1. “We support the arts because it is a workforce development imperative."
  2. “We like to support things that we know work, because we like to make sure we’re making an impact with the investments that we’re making.”
  3. “We like to support things that are employees are interested in.”

 

Centeno explained that “Aetna is a STEAM company.” Their staff is comprised of medical clinicians, technologists, engineers, financial analysts, and also marketers, who he described as artists that are charged with creating an emotional response to affect decision making. In addition to hiring employees from each of the STEAM focus areas, Aetna also supports the arts internally through an employee jazz band and choir and through the Aetna Foundation's matched giving program. According to Centeno, last year Aetna employees volunteered over 420,000 hours in communities across the country and donated over $7 million to the organizations where they volunteer. The Aetna Foundation provided a partial match for those donations, which amounted to an additional $4 million in giving. “Many of the projects our employees themselves have selected are in STEAM,” he said. “We support [employee engagement with the arts] at every turn,” Centeno added, “because if we do that than we have a more satisfied employee. And a more satisfied employee is a more productive employee.”

 

“Aetna is no longer just a health insurance company" Centeno said. "It is a healthcare company that requires innovation and ingenuity in order to be successful." Aetna is helping to develop the next generation of innovators by supporting STEAM programs throughout the United States. One example of their efforts is a partnership with ArtsWestchester through which they have helped develop arts related projects, including a mural creation residency program. “We have seen time and again that [STEAM] results in higher test scores and lower drop-out rates, and the reason that that happens is because we are able to connect with that child on an emotional level,” Centeno explained.

 

Aetna is a 2011 recipient of the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America. Additionally, Floyd W. Green III, the Vice President and Head of Community Relations and Urban Marketing at Aetna, sits on Americans for the Arts’ Board of Directors.

 

Watch a recording of the STEAM Assembly.

Learn more about STEAM education.

Read more about Aetna's partnership with the Center for Puppetry Arts.

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Board Member Floyd Green Makes the Case for STEAM

Posted by Kendra Mitchell
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On Martin Luther King Day, Floyd Green, Vice President and Head of Community Relations & Urban Marketing at Aetna and member of Americans for the Arts' Board of Directors, received the National Action Network’s Merit Award for his efforts to expand healthy living to all communities. In his acceptance remarks, Mr. Green highlighted the significance of the arts to personal health and achievement. “What I have noticed across the country, when we look at total health, is our kids’ inability to dream,” he told the packed audience. He connected this inability to the removal of arts and arts education from schools.

 

Mr. Green, a committed STEAM advocate, has been working to shift corporate dialogue from supporting STEM to including the arts through STEAM. When named among the Top 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM, he discussed the improvements that his company saw when the arts were integrated into their science, technology, engineering, and math causes.

 

Watch Mr. Green make the case that STEAM will help move our children and country forward as he accepts his award at the video link below from C-SPAN.

 

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Link Between Arts Education and Entrepreneurship?

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Link Between Arts Education and Entrepreneurship?

(Macy's supports the Adopt-a-School program of the St. Louis Symphony, which is a partnership between the orchestra and area schools featuring regular classroom visits from orchestra musicians and provides free ticket's to the symphpony's education concerts; photo courtesy of Macy's.)

 

A study from Michigan State University found a strong connection between childhood arts education and business ventures later in life. The findings were so surprising that researchers concluded that not only was there a link, but that arts and crafts in youth development are actually critical to economic innovation. This research is powerful evidence that could disprove the commonly held theory that the arts are merely an extra-curricular for students and thus easy to add or cut. 

 

Rex Lamore, one of the lead authors of this study and Director of the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development, met with Michigan Public Radio to give a short preview of the study’s full findings and implications it has for the future of our country’s economic growth if the arts continue to be cut out of schools. In sum, here are the four powerful results the study uncovered:

 

  • Students who major in STEM subjects are more likely to have arts experience and background than the average American
  • Arts and crafts skills are “significantly correlated” with creating new, patentable, inventions and new business ventures
  • The majority of innovators directly connect their ability to an arts or crafts background
  • A lifelong exposure and interaction with the arts will yield the largest results for those in science, engineering, and other innovative positions

 

Listen to the full interview at MichiganRadio.org.

Milliken & Company Puts Full STEAM into the Arts

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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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.

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