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Americans for the Arts Releases Seventh pARTnership Movement Essay: Embrace Diversity & Team Building

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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Americans for the Arts is proud to announce the seventh installment in the pARTnership movement essay titled Embrace Diversity & Team Building.

 

Each essay in the series, started in June 2015, illustrates one of The pARTnership Movement’s 8 reasons businesses partner with the arts, and has been a key tool in motivating and guiding sustainable, symbiotic partnerships between businesses and the arts. This essay focuses on how you can use the arts to embrace diversity and team building with employees. The essay features case studies from Travelers in Minneapolis and ShoreTel in Sunnyvale, CA.

 

To view and download our Embrace Diversity & Team Building essay and the rest of The pARTnership Movement’s essays, visit www.partnershipmovement.org.

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Planning a Meeting? Don’t forget the Art!

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Planning a Meeting? Don’t forget the Art!

Expectations are changing in the world of corporate meetings. Nearly two-thirds of the meeting planners polled in Successful Meetings’ 2016 Trends Survey said the ‘need to create a compelling meeting experience for attendees’ is now key to creating effective meetings in 2016.

 

According to Mark Cooper, CEO of the International Association of Conference Centers, “a compelling media experience” might mean a teambuilding exercise or other experiential learning experience, or an opportunity to volunteer in the host community. In light of this trend, many hotels and conference centers throughout the United States are curating art experiences for meeting attendees—often in partnership with local artists or museums—that provide exposure to the city’s unique culture.

 

For example, according to an article on SuccessfulMeetings.com, the Westin Cleveland Downtown’s art collection now features pieces curated by local artists that evokes the Cuyahoga River and incorporates tree branches reclaimed from the construction of the Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge. “Our art collection enhances our guests’ overall experience by showcasing exceptional pieces that provide an intimate look and immediate understanding of the community they’re visiting,” says Karen Troyer, director of sales and marketing for Westin Cleveland.

 

Here are five other great examples:

 

  • Event planners Shackman and Associates New York organizes events for meeting attendees that challenge them to tap into their own creativity at local art studios.
  • The Hilton Anatole in Dallas offers a curated “art dine-around,” which pairs the hotel’s art pieces with food and beverage items from their country of origin, as well as an art scavenger hunt.
  • The Conrad Indianapolis offers guided tours of its art collection and often invites the artist to present his or her work to the group. At a recent Young Presidents’ Organization meeting, the hotel’s culinary team created a menu inspired by the art in the group’s meeting spaces.
  • Cleveland’s The Metropolitan at The 9 features an art studio and rotating gallery as part of its new Artist in Residency program.
  • Destination marketing company Alaska Destination Specialists Inc. recruits native Alaskan artists to offer working craft tables or booths to showcase sewing, beading, and carving skills.

 

“Absolutely, return on investment is critical,” says Carlson Wagonlit Travel Meetings & Events VP Cindy Fisher, “but so is ensuring that it’s an impactful event experience for those attendees.”

 

Have you incorporated the arts into your corporate meetings or attended a meeting that featured an art experience? We want to hear from you! Tell us about it on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us at partnership@artsusa.org.

 

Photo credit: The Westin Hotel in Cleveland by LAND studio. Photo by Ricky Rhodes.

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The Art of the Startup

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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The Art of the Startup

For America’s startups, employee creativity is a crucial ingredient for success. It not only fuels product development; it also helps build relationships. An article on Chicago Inno tells the story of a collaboration between edtech startup Packback and healthcare startup ContextMedia strengthened by a shared love of music.

 

Packback was incubating at ContextMedia to work on growing their e-textbook and digital learning platform when Packback cofounder Mike Shannon discovered that ContextMedia product manager Ernesto Rodriguez made hip hop beats and worked as a DJ. He reached out to see if Rodriguez wanted to lay beats for some of his rap lyrics.

 

When word got out about the partnership, other employee musicians came forward. "What we realized…is that we were surrounded by pent up latent creativity, latent creative talent that was waiting for a catalyst to jump into action," said Shannon. The duo began bringing other employees into the mix.

 

According to the article, “For Shannon, the collaboration also allowed him an outlet to share his entrepreneurial journey.” The song “Snowball,” for example, talks about the launch of Packback and features soundbites made by ContextMedia’s Shradha Agarwal.

 

(Soundcloud from Chicago Inno site)

 

The partnership has been instrumental to Packback’s business. Thanks to the Packback staff accomplished at ConextMedia, they raised $1.5 million and were able to move to a new office, which will feature a mural painted by Packback cofounder Jessica Tenuta and a sound booth for employee performances.

 

"In the startup environment, if it becomes successful, things can go very fast before you even have time to step back and plan," said Rodriguez, who has previously worked at Groupon and Redbox. "That sort of environment and those situations will make or break a person, or in the instance of a creative person, allows them to use the creative side of their mind to come up with solutions."

 

"If a group is literally jamming together and creating something, there is no question that it gets the creative juices flowing," said Northwestern Kellogg professor Michelle Buck, who studies the intersection of arts and business. "If these are people in ongoing intact groups that continue to work together, the level of creativity will be increased...because it generates an energy, confidence, a sense of rhythm, and a sense of familiarity and bonding. There's an energy that will naturally carry over."

 

Interview with Mike Shannon of Packback about the collaboration:

 

(Soundcloud from Chicago Inno site)

 

Read the full article here.

 

Learn more about employee musical collaborations.

 

Do your employees collaborate on art projects? Tell us about it on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us at partnership@artsusa.org.

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If Miles Davis Taught Your Office to Improvise

Posted by Marisa Muller
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The old saying goes, “The only thing constant in life is change.” And with the current pace of change in the workplace, there is a demand for businesses to be ready for anything and everything. In order for business leaders to thrive in today’s market, they must be receptive, responsive, and adaptive. But how can business leaders prepare themselves for the unexpected?

 

Frank J. Barrett, Professor of Management and Global Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, suggests that business leaders take a cue from jazz musicians and practice improvisation.

 

In his article featured in Fast Company, the skills jazz musicians develop while improvising can also be helpful working in the office. Through improvisation, one nurtures spontaneity, cultivates creativity, encourages experimentation, and facilitates dynamic synchronization- all traits that are becoming increasingly necessary to succeed in business. By harnessing these qualities, businesses will be better equipped to tackle challenges that come their way.

 

Barrett proposes the following practices to help business leaders replicate the environment of a jazz band jam session:

 

Treat each task as an experiment

 

Every time a jazz musician improvises with a band, he or she tries different combinations of notes and rhythms over the chord changes of a song. As the musician performs, he or she is aware of his or her actions, listens to what works musically, and is receptive to others’ responses. Each spontaneous composition, therefore, becomes a learning process.

By adopting this experimental approach for the office, Barrett believes you will obtain a mind-set focused on discovery. Because you are constantly proposing new ideas and testing new hypotheses, you are more receptive to different ways of thinking and encourage breaking the routine. By consistently approaching projects through this process of trial and error, you become more aware of yourself and your own experiences, and you consequently learn more.

 

Resist the Glamour of No and Go with the Flow

 

Wishing the situation was different is one of the greatest hindrances to creativity and improvisation. Instead, do what jazz greats do- assume that you can make the situation work somehow. With this affirmative mind-set, you are more likely to accomplish the task at hand and find a positive pathway.

 

Encourage Serious Play

 

Musicians play on stage and you should play in the office, too. Although work and play seem diametrically opposed, the addition of legitimate play into the workplace can be a fruitful and meaningful activity. There is a sense of surrender in play, a willingness to suspend control and give yourself over to the flow of the ongoing events. Playing and practicing in situations where it is acceptable to try new things and fail provokes and open thought process and reinforces the experimentation process.

 

 Everyone gets a chance to solo

 

Successful work teams are often characterized by distributed, multiple leadership in which people take turns heading up various projects as their expertise is needed. The same thing happens in jazz bands, where everyone gets their turn to solo. That way, all participants get their chance to shine.

 

 

With these tips in mind, it’s time to warm up those chops and have your own office jam session, you cool cat!

 

*Photo courtesy of Stefan Leijon.

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Connecting the Dots: Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville

Posted by Emily Peck
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Connie Valentine, CEO of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville talks about forging meaningful partnerships between arts and business in Nashville Arts Magazine

 

Read an excerpt from the article where Connie discusses one of ABC Nashville's signature programs, the Music City Corporate Band Challenge:

 

"Take, for example, the council’s Corporate Band Challenge. Valentine’s brainchild, the concept, in a nutshell, is to offer corporations, nonprofits—even government entities—the opportunity to create a band within their own ranks and compete against each other. While in Music City the concept may not seem such a stretch, its unique nature has even become a model for other cities.

 

Valentine took her idea to Ron Samuels, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Avenue Bank. “Count us in,” he said.  “We’re going to rock the house.”

 

Valentine says these bands that are formed connect employees, from the security guard to the CEO. “It bonds people from all walks of life in ways they never would in any other way. It’s team building at its best. It’s infusing creativity into a workplace, be it the financial sector or the nonprofit world."

 

Read the entire article at Nashville Arts Magazine.

 

*photo of Plumb Crazy with Next of Kin from Myers Plumbing courtesy of ABC Nashville.

Business of Rock

Posted by Emily Peck
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Business of Rock

M5, a provider of cloud-based telephone services for businesses, teamed up with the Hochstein School of Music to enhance team building and employee engagement.  Together, M5 and the Hochstein School organized a “school of rock” that culminates in a battle of the bands at their annual meeting.

 

Phelim White, founder of M5’s Rochester office says, “That’s the accounting person getting together with an engineer and a sales guy, all these different departments coming together as a band as a unit and learning how to be great together."  He added, "Happy colleagues, happy customers, right? If you’re going to have a commitment to your customers loving your service, the first commitment has to be to the staff."

 

You can read more about the program and listen to the interview on North County Public Radio.

 

*Photo courtesy of Sabrina Campagna

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