Arts and business news from around the country.


Celebrating the BCA 10 in Reston, Virginia

Posted by Stacy Lasner

On November 5, the Initiative for Public Art – Reston (IPAR) in Reston, Virginia, held its annual reception, honoring some of the area’s most dedicated arts supporters and raising crucial funds so that the organization can continue its valuable work of creating a more vibrant, desirable community through the arts.


During the event, IPAR gave surprise recognition to Joe Ritchey, the Principal of Prospective Inc. and Board Chairman and President at IPAR. In October, Prospective Inc., real-estate brokerage and consulting firm, was honored with a BCA 10 award from Americans for the Arts, which recognizes the best businesses partnering with the arts in America.

Americans for the Arts was proud to be a part of IPAR’s event. Jay Dick, Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs at Americans for the Arts and a Commissioner at Virginia Commission for the Arts informed the attendees of Ritchey and Prospective Inc.’s remarkable dedication. Mike Collins, Outreach Director for Congressman Gerry Connolly, also said a few words on Ritchey’s behalf. Several members of the IPAR community, including Executive Director Anne Delaney, had the opportunity to join us at the BCA 10 gala celebration at the Central Park Boathouse in New York on October 6, 2015.

Nominations for the BCA 10 Awards are open now through January 8

Learn more about Joe Ritchey.

Read more about our BCA 10 honorees.

Photo: Joe Ritchey (left) with Jay Dick (right) and the BCA 10 award. Photo courtesy of Anne Delaney.


BCA 10 Honoree on the Economic Impact of Public Art

Posted by Stacy Lasner
BCA 10 Honoree on the Economic Impact of Public Art

“I believe that a community’s economic vitality and quality of life are directly proportionate to its commitment to and investment in arts and culture. The arts provides a powerful economic return.” – Joe Ritchey, Principal, Prospective Inc.


For Joe Ritchey of Prospective Inc., a one-person commercial real-estate brokerage and consulting firm in Reston, VA that has been selected as a BCA 10 honoree this year for partnering with the arts, having a thriving local arts scene is an essential part of his company’s success and the city’s growth. Not only does Prospective lease office space in Reston Town Center, Ritchey has also been instrumental in transforming Reston Town Center into a vibrant public space with outdoor concerts and public art.


In his recent post on Americans for the Arts’ ARTSblog, Ritchey discusses how public art has helped transform Reston into a place where people want to live and work.


Join us for a webinar on September 9 at 3 p.m. ET to hear Ritchey talk more about public art’s economic return. He will be joined by the Director of the Initiative for Public Art– Reston (IPAR), an organization which he founded.


Learn more about IPAR by watching this video, which was part of "Reston: The Art of Community," displayed at Dulles International Airport in 2014.


Photo: © Initiative for Public Art – Reston.


Art-Making by Corporate Executives

Posted by John Bryan

How many of Richmond’s corporate executives make art in their spare time? What percentage paint landscapes or play in a band or write poetry? Are their artistic pursuits of any real value to their companies? Does the fact that a corporate executive creates sculpture affect the bottom line of that corporation? A new survey of 271 Richmond, VA executives offers some answers.


First the context. The 2004 publication of Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class ushered in a pervasive corporate understanding of the value of “creativity” to corporate success – to a company’s bottom line. Creativity has become an essential theme in corporate strategy sessions, team-building exercises, and leadership training.


But there is an ingredient that is sometimes absent from conversations and research concerning creativity in the corporate workplace: art-making. While the corporate world values “creativity” as an important attribute for its executives to have, “art maker” may not be considered as a similarly important attribute. But while creativity is an attribute that is subjective and hard to identify, art maker is an objective attribute that is easily identified.


During the first half of 2013 CultureWorks administered a two-question survey that was completed by 271 Richmond corporate executives including some of the region’s topmost executives, members of the Greater Richmond Chamber, members of Rotary, and members of the Richmond Association for Business Economics.


QUESTION ONE: Do you currently make art? (Do you write poetry, sing in a band, paint, etc.) If the answer is No, you have finished the survey. If Yes, proceed to the second question. QUESTION TWO: Does the fact that you make art contribute to the bottom line of your company?


QUESTION TWO has six parts. Does the fact that you make art affect your job performance in any of the following six ways:


1) Give you positive energy?

2) Enable you to be more creative?

3) Make you more open to new ideas?

4) Cause you to give more respect to the ideas of others?

5) Cause you to have a greater appreciation for diversity?

6) Cause others to give more respect to your point of view?


Respondents rated these six parts by giving each a score from 1 to 5. A score of 1 means: “The fact that I [play in a band] is great, but it really doesn’t have any noticeable impact on this aspect of my work for my company.” A score of 5 means: “The fact that I [write poetry] has had an overwhelming and noticeable positive impact on this aspect of my work.”


Two thirds of the executives responded that they don’t make art. Among the one third who do make art, their scores on each of the six areas averaged four or higher. Thus this survey’s results are strongly one-sided: Richmond region business executives who currently make art say that that aspect of their lives has a highly positive impact on their performance in the workplace.


This research begs some questions that may be important. Should corporate executives that don’t currently make art enroll in screenprint classes at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond or start singing with One Voice Chorus? Would all employees everywhere – not just corporate executives – do a better job for their companies if they were to start making clay pots or playing the violin? Does the research imply that if there are two otherwise equal job applicants, the one who plays guitar or creates etchings would be better?


Does it mean that companies, when hiring employees, should show favoritism to resumes that include art-making? And does that mean that as we prepare the workforce for the future we should stress the importance of having an art-making pursuit? Does it mean that our school systems should assure that students acquire art-making abilities so they will be of maximum value to their future employers?


Will all of this assure even better bottom lines for the corporate sector? And will this result in an ever stronger economy that makes for better communities and brighter lives?

The specific research discussed in this article was suggested to me by Jonathan Spector, president and ceo of The Conference Board, during his November 2012 visit to Richmond. I appreciate assistance on important steps of the research from John Martin at Southern Institute of Research and Brock Vaughn at Capital One.


POSTSCRIPT: The national headquarters for Hohner is here in Richmond, VA. I recently told Hohner’s head of marketing about this research. I asked this question: “If I were to find a group of corporate folks who don’t make art and who are willing to gain an art-making ability, would Hohner be willing to teach them how to play the harmonica?” Hohner would of course love for there to be a research project that shows that corporate executives who learn to play the harmonica become even more valuable to their companies. Matthew Budman, Editor-in-Chief of The Conference Board Review, told me that such research would attract his publication’s interest.


Contact me if you are a candidate.


(This post, originally published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)


*This article was posted on ARTSblog.


Five Strategies for Arts-Business Relationships

Posted by John Bryan

CultureWorks is the privately-funded nonprofit organization that serves as the local arts agency for Richmond, Virginia. Although it is only the nation’s 43rd largest city, Richmond has a significant business community as evidenced by it being the headquarters for 11 Fortune 1000 companies – 6 of which are F500s.


Five ongoing strategies have helped CultureWorks engage good relationships between Richmond’s arts and business communities:


  1. CultureWorks is an active member of the Greater Richmond Chamber. “Active” includes volunteering for committees, paying to be part of the annual 3-day InterCity Visit, and attending Chamber gatherings – all of which help to establish and strengthen personal relationships.
  2. CultureWorks publishes reports on its activities and accomplishments and makes sure that business leaders read the reports with interest. I snail-mail a hardcopy of each report to several dozen business leaders, and I attach a hand-written personalized sticky note that has a message such as, “Frank – Good to see you last week. I’ve highlighted a couple of things on this report that you might find interesting.” It’s a lot of work preparing 50 or more of these letters, but the personalized notes cause this to be a communication that the business leaders do read.
  3. CultureWorks invites business leaders to volunteer isolated segments of their time to serve on short-term project-specific committees and task teams. Examples include the review panels for the CultureWorks Grants Program and our metrics task team. This not only builds relationships, but also gives the corporate participants a first-hand look at the value of the arts.
  4. CultureWorks has an intentional and ongoing track record of doing things that are of direct value to the business community. For example, we have presented talks by and discussions with The Conference Board CEO, Jonathan Spector, and former American Bankers Association President, Ken Ferguson. CultureWorks was the primary force in gathering the multi-sector consensus needed to establish Richmond’s downtown arts and culture district – a development that provides important benefits for the business community.
  5. CultureWorks has an ongoing presence in the editorial section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch – our daily newspaper – as evidenced by the publication of three or four CultureWorks-written editorial features each year. We send copies, along with sticky notes, to selected business leaders. Richmond’s business community does pay priority attention to the Richmond Times-Dispatch; its publisher is former president of the Chamber.


When CultureWorks was created in 2009, our staff members and our brand were largely unknown in Richmond’s business community. The five strategies listed here have caused the business community to be more aware of, and have greater appreciation for, the importance of arts and culture to our community.


(This post is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)


*This article was posted on ARTSblog.


Creative Conversations: art of the partnership

Posted by Patrick O'Herron




On November 27, 2012, Americans for the Arts and The Conference Board convened business leaders and artists for a discussion about how the business and arts sectors can leverage their respective resources to achieve vital industry objectives. The gathering, the first of a series of Creative Conversations, was hosted by Dominion Energy and Altria with significant support from CultureWorks, and took place at Altria and at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Click the following link to read an op-ed article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch written by Americans for the Arts CEO Bob Lynch and The Conference Board CEO Jon Spector regarding the first of these Creative Conversations and the future of the relationship between arts and business.


Creative Conversations: art of the partnership


Do Business Executives Believe Artistic Pursuits Add Value to Their Work?

Posted by John Bryan

Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class is now 11 years old, and the notion that left-brained corporate types can benefit from right-brained creative types is acknowledged as gospel.


Although Florida’s work has resulted in blue-chip value for “creative thinkers,” there is no empirical evidence to show whether business executives claim any workplace value for their own personal artistic pursuits.


Indeed, do the personal artistic pursuits of business workers add value to the corporate workplace? The exploration of this question is one line of research that has been spawned by a recent gathering in Virginia.


On November 27 in Richmond, President and CEO of The Conference Board Jonathan Spector and Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch convened 16 corporate executives and 16 artists for an eight-hour “Creative Conversation”—a day of envisioning a new transaction model between business and arts. The forever-held model is straightforward: businesses give money to the arts so that the arts can enrich their communities.


Richmond’s event explored the possibility of an opposite transaction model. Can corporations benefit by reaching out to and engaging practicing artists? Participants included executives from Fortune 500 companies such as Altria, Dominion, and MeadWestvaco; leaders from service organizations such as J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College and Leadership Metro Richmond; and CEOs from specialty companies such as The Martin Agency and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The artists ranged from a ballerina to an aerialist, muralist to conceptualist, actor to juggler, ceramicist to harpist, and orchestra conductor to metal band leader.

The day’s discussions resulted in three lines of new research that are commencing, one of which may answer the question about whether an artistic pursuit adds value to an executive’s role in the corporate workplace.


That specific research consists of a two-question survey for business executives.

First question: Does your life include an artistic pursuit? (Play guitar? Sing in a choir? Write poetry? Paint? etc.)


Second question: Does your artistic pursuit add value to your work? (More creative? More open to new ideas? More receptive to diversity? More energy? etc.?)


Richmond’s venerable Southeastern Institute of Research (whose work has produced such landmark results as the first bank credit card and the first stay-on tab for drink cans) helped design the survey’s questions and distribution methods.


The survey questions are being answered by three groups. One is Richmond’s Management Roundtable, a group of 73 CEOs of the city’s largest companies. Another is the 2,500-person business e-list of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The third is the in-person business audiences who hear my presentations about the research. For example, next month I’ll present to the Richmond Association for Business Economics.


Last week I presented to South Richmond Rotary. The Rotarians completed the two-minute survey on the spot. 28 percent of the attendees answered YES to the question about having a personal artistic pursuit, and 100 percent  of those answered YES to it adding value to their workplace.


They gave a score from 1 (no value) to 5 (great value) for six different ways their artistic pursuit might add value to their work: positive energy, creativity, openness to new ideas, appreciation of diversity, respected for their own opinions and ideas, and respect for the opinions and ideas of others. None of the respondents gave a score less than 3 on any of the areas. Each of the six areas had an average score of at least 4.5.


The Conference Board says this is new research: determining whether business executives truly believe that their personal artistic pursuits add value to their work. Our Richmond research will be complete soon. Hopefully The Conference Board will be able to get business executives in other cities to follow suit.


Where might this lead? What if The Conference Board were to one day release nationwide research that confirms that having personal arts pursuits adds value to the work of corporate employees? How would that research affect the list of qualifications that corporations look for in prospective employees?


What would it mean regarding the desirability of artistic pursuits being included on resumes? What would it mean to our nation’s efforts in preparing tomorrow’s workforce? And what would it mean for the curricula of our school systems?


And what will it signify that this research will be produced and delivered not by us artists, but by what may be the world’s leading purveyor of business research and strategies: The Conference Board.


Richmond is an ideal city in which to initiate this research. We’re small enough (1.3 million in the Metropolitan Statistical Area) to have a community camaraderie that is embracing this research. We have a much-bigger-than-you’d-expect artistic community, powered by the 2,500-student Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (ranked as the nation’s best public art school by U.S. News & World Report). Helping to further contribute to the artistic community, one third of those students stay in Richmond after graduation. We have a robust corporate community that includes the headquarters of 11 Fortune 1000 companies, six of which are Fortune 500 companies. And survey-wise we’re one of the nation’s top ten test markets.


What do you think of our efforts to date? Is there anything more you’d like to learn from a survey like this in your community?


*This article was originally posted on ARTSblog.

Local Arts Agencies & Chambers of Commerce: Natural Partners

Posted by John Bryan

#1 Richmond has an enviable business community as evidenced by its being one of only 11 cities to be headquarters to more than five Fortune 500 companies and one of only 12 cities to have a Federal Reserve Bank.


#2 Richmond’s arts/culture community is likewise enviable as evidenced by its emergence from the recession with all of its major arts and culture organizations thriving: symphony, opera, ballet, theatre, art museum, science museum, history museum, children’s museum, botanical garden, and many dozens more.


#3 Richmond has a slew of enviable national creative superlatives such as being home to the #1 marketing company (Martin Agency – think Geico gekko), #1 public art university (VCU), #1 university advertising program (VCU Adcenter), and forthcoming building designed by the #1 architect (Steven Holl).


Those three sentences have resulted in a three-year Greater Richmond Chamber-led initiative entitled i.e.* – a grand partnership that spotlights and energizes creativity and innovation for three purposes: enable the business community to leverage the creative community in accomplishing real business objectives; provide expanded audiences for the creative community; and foster new relationships and partnerships.


Richmond’s local arts agency—CultureWorks—is one of the active partners with the Chamber’s i.e.* initiative and three current projects demonstrate the partnership’s value.

In January 2012, CultureWorks partnered with 15 of the city’s major companies to present an art exhibition entitled “Creative Capital—Corporate Richmond Collects”: artworks from corporate collections that had never been viewed by the public. There was a public opening reception and a catalogue about the corporations and their collections. CultureWorks and the Greater Richmond Chamber partnered to host a private reception specifically for leaders from the business and arts communities.


Read the rest of the post on ARTSblog.

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