Arts and business news from around the country.


BCA 10 Spotlight: AC Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee

Posted by Mariama Holman
BCA 10 Spotlight: AC Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee

Known as one of the foremost concert promoters and festival producers in the United States, AC Entertainment celebrates the arts by bringing first-class live entertainment experiences to music lovers from around the world. Founded in 1991, AC Entertainment now produces over 700 concerts, events and festivals annually and has become a household name in the music and arts industries. The company also manages the historic Tennessee and Bijou Theaters in its headquarters of Knoxville; a second office is located in Nashville. As AC Entertainment has become a key player in these communities, supporting the arts—even beyond producing concerts and festivals—has become intertwined with the company’s core objectives.


AC Entertainment’s biggest annual festivals include Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Forecastle Music & Arts Festival and Big Ears. Each of these festivals has a meaningful philanthropic component, and attracts tens of thousands of patrons, exposing them to hundreds of musical performances and arts displays in unique settings throughout the US—redefining what an arts experience can be.


AC Entertainment’s most acclaimed event, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, which the company co-founded, co-owns and co-produces with Superfly Presents, is known as the largest camping music event in North America and was listed in Rolling Stone’s “50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock & Roll.” The Bonnaroo Works Fund (BWF), the charitable division of the festival, supports organizations with a mission of making communities healthy in the areas of arts, education, and environmental sustainability, with the goal of local reinvestment and asset building. Since the inception of the festival, the BWF has given back upwards of $5 million to support the efforts of approximately 100 charitable causes. $2 from each ticket sold is dedicated to charitable giving. In 2013, the BWF allocated more than $360,000 to 20+ deserving organizations, with approximately one-third of the total designated to programs advancing the arts. AC Entertainment also donates dozens of tickets from each event to a variety of groups and causes.


AC Entertainment often constructs outdoor venues and creative situations to showcase art associated with its festivals and special events. The company has supported a series of skylight visual art displays at the Nashville International Airport as part of Arts at the Airport, a program designed to turn the terminal and surrounding facilities into a space for rotating public art exhibits and permanent acquisitions.


The arts are the fabric of AC Entertainment’s operations and company culture, and play a large role in recruitment and retention of employees. CEO Ashley Capps sits on the Board of Directors of the Americana Music Association, the David Lynch Foundation and Visit Knoxville, and the Board of Advisors for Eventbrite. In order to keep improving the AC Entertainment experiences, Capps and several key employees continue to develop strong relationships with both business and government leaders in the towns, cities and states that the company serves in order to promote the value of the arts.


Photo: Forecastle Music & Arts Festival


BCA 10 Spotlight: AutoZone, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by Mariama Holman
BCA 10 Spotlight: AutoZone, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee

"Even as AutoZone has evolved over the last 36 years, we’ve maintained a steadfast commitment to our hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Leadership and active participation in our region’s arts and culture are essential to community engagement and growth. In partnership with ArtsMemphis, ArtsZone provides funding for dozens of emerging and established arts initiatives and events; youth outreach and mentoring programs for underserved youth; accessible, community-building endeavors; and minority arts growth."

–Bill Rhodes, Chairman, President, and CEO, Customer Satisfaction, AutoZone, Inc.


AutoZone, Inc.,  the leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories in the United States, views a thriving arts community as a key component to creating and sustaining an economically strong, authentic, and dynamic community. The company supports arts and culture initiatives through unique funding programs, civic leadership, and employee engagement.


In AutoZone’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, the company provides annual funding to ArtsMemphis, a United Arts Fund, and dozens of local arts and culture organizations through a grant program called ArtsZone. The program, which is administered by ArtsMemphis, helps support emerging arts programs and events, including Indie Memphis Film Festival; outreach and mentoring programs for underserved youth, including the New Ballet Ensemble; accessible, community-building endeavors, including the Levitt Shell Music Series; and minority arts growth, including the Hattiloo Theatre. In 2014, AutoZone distributed more than $400,000 in funding to local arts groups. Memphis-based AutoZone employees are also encouraged to donate to ArtsMemphis through a payroll deduction program, which matches 100 percent of donations dollar-for-dollar.


In 2004, AutoZone founder J.R. “Pitt” Hyde III and former AutoZone CEO Steve Odland spearheaded ArtsMemphis’s ambitious endowment campaign, Memphis for the Arts (MFTA). AutoZone made the lead gift and encouraged other businesses to get involved. MFTA generated more than $27.2 million and enhanced the profile of the Memphis arts community.


Additionally, in 2001 AutoZone donated 226 works collected by J.R. “Pitt” Hyde III to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The AutoZone Collection offers a selection of artists and artisans from the Mid-South.


AutoZone’s creative partnership with the arts is also evidenced by its affiliation with Opera Memphis. The company supports Opera Memphis’ 30 Days of Opera, a public-outreach initiative that aims to integrate opera into everyday life. Since its launch in 2012, 30 Days of Opera has reached more than 50,000 people at more than 80 locations in the Greater Memphis region. In both 2013 and 2014, AutoZone commissioned Opera Memphis to create two iterations of ‘AutoZone: The Opera,' for the company’s national conference. The opera featured a cast of characters lamenting their car problems to an AutoZone customer service representative. By partnering with the arts, AutoZone reinforced the strong corporate culture and commitment to customer satisfaction in a creative and memorable way.


Photo: Opera Memphis performs at the 2014 AutoZone National Sales Meeting


2008 BCA 10 Winner, First Tennessee Bank, Supports Community Unity with Fun Fest

Posted by Mariama Holman


First Tennessee Bank is a staunch believer that art plays a vital role in a healthy community, and helps express the diversity within its shared humanity.

For this reason, First Tennessee Bank continues to give back to its state by financially supporting community togetherness as a sponsor of the Fun Fest in Kingsport, Tennessee.


Established fall of 1980, Fun Fest was started with the aim of healing the community from pressing situations that divided it, “ranging from political issues to extreme and unhealthy rivalries among local high schools,” according to event organizers.


Founders stated that the sole objective of Fun Fest was "to promote unity, harmony, fellowship and cooperation among people in the greater Kingsport area” – essentially fostering a belief that the Kingsport community was a good place to live and work while appealing to interests in culture, athletics, arts and entertainment.


Fun Fest was designed to build a more positive attitude about the local community and a more friendly, neighborly relationship amongst residents, and it appears to have been successful in doing so.


Over the years, the event has grown to attract over 180,000 attendees annually and has activities ranging from art fairs to boat races, parades and car shows that appeal to all age groups and people of varying interest. Nothing promotes community togetherness like live performance - Fun Fest concerts have featured performers such as Billy Ray Cyrus, The Four Tops, The Pointer Sisters, KC & The Sunshine Band, and Lynyrd Skynrd. 


In addition to live performance, the event features the Kingsport Art Guild’s Fun Fest Art Show, a community art show inviting both children and adults to hone and share their creative talents.


The spirit of building togetherness continues through the Fun Fest Art Show, as the 80 participants in the 2017 show reveal the diverse array of talent and skill collectively housed and supported within the community. 


“The diversity in these entries was most impressive. I can see artists exploring different paths. The skills and wit evident in a great many of the works made it difficult to narrow down the award winners,” according to Tim Tate, a retired teaching artist from the Sullivan County School System who served as judge.


Fun Fest continues into the present with the help of its local supporters and constituents, such as First Tennessee Bank.


For over 100 years, First Tennessee has been a strong supporter of the arts. It believes the arts elevate the human spirit and strengthen the fabric of the community.

When the Memphis-based bank expanded its operations statewide nearly 40 years ago, it started the First Tennessee Heritage Collection, an art collection about Tennessee by Tennesseans. The collection celebrates and acknowledges the heritage and history of the region.


First Tennessee, a 2008 BCA 10 awardee, is proud of its commitment to share the arts with employees, customers, and the communities it serves.


Photo: Anne Bucher, participant in the 2017 Fun Fest Art Show, receives a Best in Show award for her painting ‘Polly.’ Image sourced from Times News.


Top 10 States for Arts and Business Arts Partnerships

Posted by Mariama Holman

Americans for the Arts has been honoring businesses that uniquely partner with arts organizations within their communities over the last decade through the annual BCA10 awards, receiving nominees of both large, small and mid-sized companies across a dozens of industries and over 47 states.


We are taking a moment to call attention to the top 10 states that have celebrated business and arts partnerships by number of BCA10 nominees from 2005 to 2017, with pro-arts quotes from iconic awardees from the respective cities.  


1.     New York


Time Warner Inc., New York,

At the announcement of Time Warner’s recognition in the BCA Hall of Fame Award for the 2007 BCA10 gala, Richard Parsons, then CEO and Chairman stated that, “Creativity is as important to the communities we serve as it is to the businesses we run. That’s why we’re committed to supporting the arts. By giving young people a chance to develop their talents and interests through media and arts programs, enabling more people to experience world-class theater, and nurturing diverse new artists and new works, we strive to help keep the arts rich and accessible.”



2.     California

Wells Fargo, San Francisco, CA

Richard M. Kovacevich, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wells Fargo & Company went on record during their 2005 BCA10 awardee announcement saying that “the arts make communities great places to live, work and play. Supporting the arts is simply the right thing to do.”



3.     Texas

American Airlines, Dallas, TX

Bella Goren, American’s Vice President of Interactive Marketing and Reservations at Americans for the Arts as well as a member of the board of North Texas Business for Culture and the Arts, accepted the 2005 BCA10 award in New York on the company’s behalf. “American and our people have a long-standing record of supporting the arts and enhancing what the arts bring to our communities,” said Goren afterward. “Hundreds of American and American Eagle employees volunteer in many positions and capacities in local and national arts organizations, and this commitment has been ongoing.  We’re proud of them, and grateful for their contributions.”



4.     Florida

Bacardi North America, Coral Gables, FL


According to Robert Furniss-Roe, the former Regional President of Bacardi North America, “Supporting the arts within the cities and towns where we live and work is our way of giving back at Bacardi, and this sense of corporate responsibility has been at our foundation since the Bacardi company was created more than 150 years ago. Arts programming enriches the lives of our employees and their families, our neighbors, and our business partners. The realm of the arts cross borders and languages to bring all people together in the name of beauty, knowledge and community.”



5.     Pennsylvania

PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA


“The arts can bring a community to life and influence its economic development. That is why PNC has long supported creative programs and initiatives that make the arts more accessible to our employees and everyone we serve,” said James E. Rohr, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.



6.     Missouri

Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO

“Hallmark’s mission is to inspire meaningful connections, which enhance relationships and enrich lives. We feel the arts are central to this purpose,” said Donald Hall, Jr., President and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc during the 2014 BCA10 awards at the Central Park Boathouse in New York.



7.     Wisconsin

Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee, WI

At the 2013 BCA10 announcement, John E. Schlifske, Chairman, President and CEO of Northwestern Mutual, stated that “Northwestern Mutual believes in the long-term benefits of sponsoring arts in the community. The arts inspire us to think differently and use new skills in all kinds of work. Our Foundation takes great pride in fostering and supporting an arts scene that not only provides entertainment, but also economic growth.”



8.   Tennessee

HCA Healthcare, Nashville, TN

"The arts nourish the spirit, challenge the mind, bring joy to the soul and enhance our communities. HCA's support of the arts is consistent with our mission to improve the quality of human life,” said Jack O. Bovender, Jr., Chairman and CEO of HCA in light of the company’s recognition for the 2006 BCA10 award.



9.   Illinois

Deere & Company, Moline, IL

"Support of the arts is integral to Deere's long-standing commitment to our communities,” said Robert W. Lane, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of  Deere & Company. “We are pleased to make major contributions to the arts that enhance the quality of life.”



10.  Ohio

Proctor & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

“Every day at P&G we strive to improve people’s lives with our brands and products, as well as improve the communities where we live and work. Supporting the arts produces ripple effects of benefits that help communities thrive and make them great places to live,” said Proctor & Gamble CEO, David Taylor upon the 2016 BCA10 announcement.


Mary Phan Wins Scholarship Integrating the Arts and Economics

Posted by Stacy Lasner
Mary Phan Wins Scholarship Integrating the Arts and Economics

The NABE Foundation, the charitable arm of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), and Americans for the Arts jointly announced today that Mary Anne Phan has won the eighth annual NABE Foundation/Americans for the Arts Scholarship Award. Phan was presented with the scholarship on March 8 at the 2016 NABE Economic Policy Conference in Washington, DC.


Phan will receive the $5,000 scholarship to further the integration of the arts into the study and application of economics in her undergraduate career and professional development. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Art History at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.


“As an economics and art history double major, I am interested in the force of the art market on the economy and conversely, in economic motivations in art,” said Phan. “It is such an honor to receive the NABE Foundation/Americans for the Arts Scholarship Award and it will allow me to fund my study abroad at Lincoln College, Oxford University, next semester.”


“I am delighted that Mary Anne will have the opportunity to continue pursuing her passion for both the arts and economics with the help of this scholarship award,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “This award reflects the fundamental belief that the arts are a key component in helping to prepare students to succeed, and it’s a pleasure to partner with the NABE Foundation for the eighth year to recognize student achievement in both the arts and economics.”


“These award recipients are at the cutting edge of our profession; by operating at the intersection of economics and creativity, they see patterns in our behavior that others miss,” said Diane Swonk, founder of DS Economics and a NABE Foundation Board member.


Read the full press release here.


To learn more about Phan’s perspective on the intersection of economics and the arts, read her blog post on ARTSblog.


The NABE Foundation Americans for the Arts Scholarship Award was established in 2008 to encourage the integration of the arts into the economic education process. Recipients of the scholarship must come from economically disadvantaged households and have attended public school. Successful candidates demonstrate long-term participation in the study of, creation in and/or performance in one or more art forms, including dance, music, theater, literary, visual/media arts; excel academically; and have formally declared the intent to study economics for policy purposes, or in applications in the private and public sectors. The scholarship recipients are selected following a competitive review process which begins with a pre-screening of applicants by Americans for the Arts, followed by a review of finalists by a subcommittee, and ratification of recipients by the NABE Foundation Board.


Americans for the Arts Honors 2015 BCA 10 Honoree AutoZone in Memphis

Posted by Jordan Shue
Americans for the Arts Honors 2015 BCA 10 Honoree AutoZone in Memphis

Last week, Americans for the Arts’ Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives, Emily Peck, visited Memphis for an annual retreat with leaders of United Arts Funds around the country. Earlier this year, ArtsMemphis, the United Arts Fund hosting the retreat, nominated Memphis-based auto parts company AutoZone for the BCA 10 awards for its exceptional support of the arts. AutoZone was selected to receive the award and was recognized by Americans for the Arts at the BCA 10 gala in New York City on October 6.


On Thursday, November 12, the President & CEO of ArtsMemphis, Elizabeth Rouse, took the opportunity to honor AutoZone’s Jenny Turner Koltnow with the award locally. The presentation took place during a reception at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and was attended by United Arts Fund leaders from around the country, AutoZone representatives, Americans for the Arts representatives, and members of the local Memphis arts community.


Before introducing Koltnow to the stage to accept the award on AutoZone’s behalf, Emily Peck said: “We’re always looking for companies that are partnering with the arts beyond sponsorships, that are really integrating them into everything that their business does…our BCA 10 judges were really taken by the great work of AutoZone…particularly their partnership with Opera Memphis to create the AutoZone Opera for their national sales meeting. Those are the sorts of stories that really resonate, and show how an auto parts company can really understand the arts and make them a part of its DNA.”


While accepting the award, Jenny Koltnow, the Director of Communications and Community Relations for AutoZone, said: “On AutoZone’s behalf, thank you. Having been the product of a great arts program in a small town in Wisconsin, I know how important the arts are, and how hard arts groups in Memphis work in order to bring that value to everyone each and every day…this is a huge honor.”


To learn more about AutoZone’s work in the arts, visit the 2015 BCA 10 program book on our website. If you know of a company in your community that supports the arts, please consider nominating it for a 2016 BCA 10 award. You can find information about nominating a company here.


Photo: AutoZone's Jenny Turner Koltnow (left) with ArtsMemphis' Elizabeth Rouse.


AC Entertainment Not Only Presents, but Partners with the Arts

Posted by Kellyn Lopes

Praised by Rolling Stone as “one of the 50 moments that changed the history of rock ‘n roll,” the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival features more than 150 artists and attracts an audience of 80,000 each year. Since 2002, the festival has presented the highest-quality musicians ranging in style from bluegrass, jazz, folk, country, reggae, blues, electronic, hip-hop, Latin, African, and more. The 100-acre entertainment village of Bonnaroo is a cultural hub, comprised of art installations, a comedy club, movie theatre, street performers, silent disco, arcade, beer garden, technology village and an impressive array of food and shopping. The brains behind the operation? AC Entertainment, a 2014 BCA 10 honoree.


AC Entertainment not only presents the arts, but partners with the arts as well. The company has partnered with the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority on a program known as Arts at the Airport, designed to turn the airport terminal and surrounding facilities into a space for rotating public art exhibits and permanent acquisitions.


“A part of the Bonnaroo founding mission is to emphasize the impact that the festival has on creativity in both the visual and live performance arts,” said Ashley Capps, CEO of AC Entertainment, in an interview with Pollstar. “The Arts at the Airport is an ever-growing, ever-changing showcase of cultural diversity and creative talent in Tennessee, and we’re proud to have the festival represented on such a grand scale.”


In 2014, AC Entertainment called for artists to submit Bonnaroo-inspired artworks, selecting 3 to be installed in the airport concourses (shown below). The overhanging displays are a powerful presence that engage travelers and promote the festival in a new way, offering a creative marketing solution for AC Entertainment that brings together local artists, festival goers, and the community.


Concourse A

"EYEZ on Bonnaroo" by Peat Wollaeger

Concourse B

"Amaranth Tactical Co-Mission: AK- BNA1 and AK-BNA2" by AK Llamas

Concourse C

"Just a Perfect Day" by Carla Ciuffo

"Spectrum Wind" by Duncan McDaniel

(Images courtesy of


The 2014 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival has concluded for this year, but the airport installations will remain until January 2015. They stand as a reflection of AC Entertainment’s arts partnerships that have become intertwined with the company’s core mission and values.


For more information on AC Entertainment and the company's support of the arts through its various festivals and events, visit


Americans for the Arts Takes Nashville by Storm for its Annual Convention

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

Officially beginning today, Friday, June 13, Americans for the Arts has landed in Nashville for its Annual Convention--a convening of arts and community leaders to network and discuss strategies for building stronger towns, counties, and cities through the arts. The discussions surrounding arts and business will be ever-present, with Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville Executive Director Casey Summar speaking about placing artists inside businesses to help advance their goals, and Vice President and Artistic Director of Arts Brookfield (a 2014 BCA 10 honoree) Debra Simon speaking on innovative corporate partnerships. Click on the following article from the Nashville Business Jounral to read about the Convention and the growing ties between Nashville's business and arts communities. #AFTAcon


Ties that bind: National spotlight on Nashville arts and business connections


“One of the things that inspired us to come back [to Nashville]… is the incredible amount of partnerships between the for-profit community and the nonprofit arts sector. Communities are changing so quickly. It’s really important that arts communities across the country see good examples… Nashville is an awesome, awesome place to showcase that.”

-Clayton Lord, Vice President of Local Arts Advancement, Americans for the Arts


“I think there is definitely a change in the way that business is partnering with the arts. It’s not just giving money, it’s looking at ways they can partner to advance business and creative goals.”


Emily Peck, Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives,
Americans for the Arts


BCA Executive Board Member Martha Ingram Talks Arts in Nashville

Posted by Patrick O'Herron

In the following video from, businesswoman, philanthropist, arts supporter and BCA Executive Board Member Martha Ingram speaks of her passion for bringing the arts to her hometown of Nashville. (Photo credit: John Russell, Vanderbilt University.)


In 1972, Ingram spearheaded an 8-year campaign to build the Tennessee performing Arts Center in downtown Nashville, which ultimately housed the Nashville Symphony and became a world-class performance venue. In the early 2000s, a new Symphony Center (the Schermerhorn) was constructed, the project again led by Ingram. However, the symphony fell upon hard financial times due to the economic recession and the disastrous flood of May 2010, which devastated many parts of Nashville and the surrounding region. In the end, Ingram provided the funds to save the facility from foreclosure, which the symphony is now paying back over a period of time.


A fervent supporter of Americans for the Arts, Ingram holds an honorary seat on the host committee for the upcoming 2014 Annual Convention being held in Nashville this June. | Nashville News, Weather

Bank of Tennessee Supports the Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Posted by Nicole Glotzer

Bank of Tennessee recently pledged $100,000 to a new museum being built by the Birthplace of Country Music, a nonprofit music organization in Bristol, VA/TN. The museum is scheduled to open this August in downtown Bristol.


The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, will give visitors a profile of Bristol’s place in the history of country music. The 24,000 square foot museum will feature 12,000 square feet of exhibit space with a rotating exhibit gallery, music mixing and listening stations, a theater, and interactive media. The museum will also host live performances and educational programming.


Roy Harmon, CEO of Bank of Tennessee, commented that the Bank has given to fundraising programs such as BCM’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion and Friends of 1927 concerts. He has expressed hope that the Bank’s pledge will be the first of many to help support the museum. Bank of Tennessee has been a consistent supporter of BCM for many years. “We appreciate the opportunity to promote music and promote heritage,” Harmon said.


David Wagner, executive vice president and market president of the Bank, agreed with the CEO, explaining that the $100,000 is “part of our strategic plan to give back, but it’s also the right thing to do. Anything we can do to help the community be more successful, in the end is good for all of us.”


Bank of Tennessee, a community bank that includes six branches in Carter County, TN (which includes Bristol), is dedicated to development in the communities it serves. To learn more, visit


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