Arts and business news from around the country.


Hospitality for the Arts

Posted by Danielle Iwata
Hospitality for the Arts

When searching for hotels, people are drawn to places that exude a sense of intention and creativity. A hotel’s aesthetics thus play a key role in its success –  as an industry, the hospitality world already has a need to be imaginative. It is only natural that they would embark upon successful partnerships with arts organizations and artists.


In 2017, three of the ten companies honored in the BCA 10 were hotels: 21c Museum Hotels based in Louisville, KY; The Betsy-South Beach in Miami Beach, FL; and Halekulani Corporation from Honolulu, HI. These businesses fulfill their need for strong, creative design while developing relationships with arts organizations and artists that also benefit the employees and the communities.


The same goes for the InterContinental Milwaukee, whose leadership has long recognized the value of the arts. Owned by The Marcus Corp., the InterContinental’s highly anticipated renovations will integrate spaces for studios, exhibits, and performances. President and CEO Greg Marcus recognizes the importance of a vibrant arts community for the wellbeing of a city, and hopes that the new downtown hotel will become a place to develop and share Milwaukee’s culture.


The Company has already demonstrated their commitment to the arts through Sculpture Milwaukee, an outdoor gallery initiative; the Warner Grant Theatre, which they donated to Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; and the Pfister Hotel, which features an extensive Victorian art collection and an artist-in-residence program that is now in its ninth year.  


We are excited to see where these collaborations will lead and will keep an eye on this growing trend! 


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.


Why Does Your Business Value the Arts?

Posted by Jessica Gaines

In their acceptance speeches at the 2016 BCA 10 Awards, twelve industry leaders spoke about what being honored at the 2016 BCA 10 means to them and why they encourage and seek out opportunities to bring the arts into their worlds.

See the full event recap and view the BCA 10 program book to learn more about this year’s best businesses partnering with the arts. Know a company that partners with the arts? Nominations for the 2017 BCA 10 Awards are open through January 13, 2017.


1. Let’s Start Easy—With an Arts Business

[Describing a Mayor’s address to a group of teachers and students] And he told these kids, I think he managed to look every single one of them in the eye, he said, “You do what you wanna do, and you apply it the way you want to apply it, and take risks. Do art, do drama, do music, do what you’re doing here.” And it’s moments like that, seeing these kids and the teachers, that make me really appreciate the luck I have to be involved in a business that gets to provide, in a large measure, that creativity.

–Robert Buchsbaum, CEO at Blick Art Materials

Watch the full speech here.

Photo courtesy Blick Art Materials.

2. A Health Care Leader

When a chairman hires a Chief Mindfulness Officer and he allows his employees to meditate and to be mindful, he is art. When an IT executive plays a mean jazz saxophone, he too is art. When a community relations director forms a Latin band and sings in the nightclubs of NYC, he is art. And when a multicultural marketer shares marketing tips to a philanthropist—a corporate philanthropist at Aetna sharing marketing tips through The Grateful Dead—they too, are art. When a company has 16 different colors in its logo, that company is art. And we believe that everyone in this room is art. And when art and the folks in this room come together, we spark innovation; we inspire youth. We celebrate and heal communities. We stimulate economies. We sustain this great nation.

–Floyd Green, Vice President, Community Relations and Urban Marketing at Aetna, Inc.

Watch the full speech here.

Photo: Rana Faure


3. From the Utility Company

The focal point for Austin Energy is transformational power, which makes sense. As an electric utility, we deal with transformers and power each and every day, but there’s also a transformational power in art to bring people together: to create bridges of knowledge and understanding, to explore new ideas, to drive change.

–Allen Small, Distribution Director at Austin Energy




Photo courtesy Austin Energy


4. From the Water Meter Folks

At Badger Meter, my best engineers are all musicians. There’s some connection—I don’t know it because I’m a philistine—but there’s some connection between art, between music and engineering. I don’t understand it, but they know it and they’re all musicians. My best salespeople were on a stage at one time in their lives. My best marketing people were involved in the visual arts. And it’s those skills that you can’t just teach in a classroom. Somehow those were developed through their education.

–Richard Meeusen, Chairman, President, and CEO at Badger Meter

Watch the full speech here.

Photo: Rana Faure

5. From the Insurance People

In four months, I’ve met with every one of the 320 employees and the number one thing that they talk about is the arts, giving back, and community. … I think it’s the ability for all of us in our lives to be able to give back. To be able to do the things that are special and unique in our lives.

–Marc Schmittlein, President and CEO at CopperPoint Insurance Companies

Photo courtesy CopperPoint Insurance Companies


6. The Automotive Marketing Expert

I feel like we are receiving an Oscar for this [award] and it is really a true honor. These are the artists that have worked really hard to make all of these projects happen in Burlington, Vermont, and so more than anything I want to say ‘cheers’ to them and thank you to Americans for the Arts and BCA 10 for recognizing the rapport of business, art, and community coming together. So we have Scott, Mary, Michael, Kate. and Abby. These are the artists. Short and sweet.

–Jill Badolato, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at

Photo: Rana Faure


7. From the Beer Brewers

I really have a great job because our slogan at Dogfish Head is “off-centered ales for off-center people.” We have about 300 co-workers, the majority of them in Delaware, and a small salesforce around the country. We have all kinds of folks that are artists themselves. We have a magician’s assistant, a death metal guitarist, jazz musicians, graphic artists, illustrators, all kinds of folks. And our philosophy is that it’s really necessary to give back to the community and that’s what Beer and Benevolence is all about. Be it the environment, be it the community in general—but the arts especially.

–Mark Carter, Beer & Benevolence Coordinator at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Photo courtesy Dogflish Head Craft Brewery


8. Lawyers, Too!

We basically said, “We work with the most creative, innovative, crazy people around the world, you know, creatives always are. And why don’t we do that in Oklahoma City as well, and bring everybody into our office, make that community, that place-making kind of place.” And what we have seen really is that the engagement of our employees, of our staff, of our directors, in the arts has increased 200-300%. But one of the most amazing things for us is the karma—whatever you want to call it—the karma, good will, love that we’ve seen through this community, of this web of people that we put together.

–Douglas Sorocco, Director at Dunlap Codding

Photo courtesy Dunlap Codding


9. The One Known for Making Almost Everything

I’ll never forget my first day when I made it to manager and got an office; you got to tour the corporate art grouping and actually go in and pick out your own art. And so what did you feel? You felt that sense of passion and to be able to go in and say I resonate with that picture, that’s gonna bring out the best of me. And what a privilege to be able to work with a company like that.

–Susan Podlogar, Global Vice President Human Resources at Johnson & Johnson

Photo courtesy Johnson & Johnson


10. A Change Management Consulting Firm

Service, volunteerism, and sponsorship are important to our management team, our consultants, and our identity as a company. Supporting the arts had proven to have both personal and professional benefits for our employees and provided us an interesting and refreshing connection within our community.

–Kat McDonald, Community Engagement Manager at M Powered Strategies

Photo: Rana Faure


11. Even a Wealth Management Business

I would also like to extend a special thank you to the Americans for the Arts organization. Like us, you recognize that the arts are a transformative vehicle in our society and that cultivating the arts is not only important, but necessary to a world that seems to be moving away from creativity.

–Dave Blowers, Executive Vice President at Northern Trust

Photo courtesy Northern Trust


12. Don’t Forget About P&G!

Procter & Gamble has a long history of supporting the arts and we are blessed to live in a community where the arts have provided such amazing experiences for our employees, for our families, for new talents to come into our region and really be transformed by the arts.

–Phil Duncan, Global Design Officer at Procter & Gamble

Photo courtesy Procter & Gamble




Badger Meter’s CEO Shares Expressive and Crucial Remarks at the BCA 10

Posted by Jessica Gaines
Badger Meter’s CEO Shares Expressive and Crucial Remarks at the BCA 10

On October 5, 2016, Badger Meter, manufacturer of flow measurement and control technology products received a BCA 10 award.  Badger Meter’s Chairman, President, and CEO, Richard Meeusen, accepted the award on the company’s behalf at the BCA 10 gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City.


During his exciting speech, he talked about how the arts and creativity have positively affected a majority of his staff, no matter what department they represent.  He acknowledged the arts as a large part of the inspiration needed to run businesses successfully and stimulate critical thinking among his staff.


Nominations are now open for the 2017 BCA 10.  If you are a business leader or community leader who wants to share or learn more about partnerships that benefit both the business and arts community, please contact us.  We want to hear from you.


Watch Richard Meeusen’s speech:



photo: Rana Faure


Arts and Business Partnerships: Enriching Workplaces and Communities Nationwide

Posted by Stacy Lasner
Arts and Business Partnerships: Enriching Workplaces and Communities Nationwide

On The Huffington Post, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch discusses successful arts and business partnerships, including his experience touring the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and visiting the Kohler manufacturing facilities and showroom in Sheboygan and Kohler, Wisconsin. Read an excerpt here:


Imagine that you are arriving to a job interview at a tech company. As you wait, you take a look around you, and notice beautiful, thought-provoking works of art displayed on the walls, plus sculptures in the public and outdoor spaces. Imagine working for a manufacturing firm, when one day you receive an announcement of an exciting new art contest for employees. Or, attending your national insurance firm's annual meeting, knowing that you'll soon be able to take the stage for a company-wide battle of the bands and sing and perform your heart out. In these three examples, you would actually be at Microsoft, Ford, or Aetna, respectively, but in reality it could be any one of thousands of businesses that are harnessing the power of the arts...because it is good for business.


You may be more likely to seek out companies like this for employment, or stay with a company for years because of various employee development opportunities through the arts. Or as a consumer you may just notice these companies first over competitors. This is a win-win for all--both companies and employees benefit from arts partnerships.


Last year I had the pleasure of touring the magnificent John Michael Kohler Arts Center, as well as visiting the Kohler manufacturing facilities and showroom in Sheboygan and Kohler, Wisconsin. During my visit, I learned directly from Herb Kohler of the impressive Arts/Industry program, a partnership between the Arts Center and Kohler Company, which makes the facilities and technologies of the Kohler Company's Pottery, Iron and Brass foundries, and Enamel Shop available to artists from around the world. In residencies of 2 to 6 months, artists are able to explore new ways of thinking and working and to create bodies of work that are not possible in their own studios. More than 500 artists have been involved over the last forty years since 1974.


The Arts/Industry program is having a remarkable effect on Kohler and the region. The artists' involvement in the factory and the community energizes the associates, and a creative synergy develops not only with the designers but also with engineers, slip casters, and enameling specialists. The cross-pollination has led to innovative ideas regarding products. Kohler is a name synonymous with bathroom and kitchen fixtures. But its internationally acclaimed arts partnership is getting plenty of attention too, not only for artist opportunities, but also for helping the company to stay at the forefront of its industry.


Continue reading on The Huffington Post.


Photo: Joseph C. Dilg, Managing Director and Vice Chairman at Greenhill & Co., Inc. (left) and Robert Lynch, Americans for the Arts President and CEO (right) present the 2011 BCA Hall of Fame Award to Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., Chairman and CEO at Kohler Co.


Foster Critical Thinking in the Workplace Through the Arts

Posted by Stacy Lasner
Foster Critical Thinking in the Workplace Through the Arts

In the business world, innovation is a prerequisite for progress. Launching today, the third essay in The pARTnership Movement essay series, Foster Critical Thinking, demonstrates how arts partnerships can help a company encourage critical thinking and thereby boost innovation among employees.

Some companies choose to spend more money on research and development to trigger innovation, but the 2014 Global Innovation 1000 survey from strategic consultants Strategy&, the global strategy consulting team at PwC, showed that R&D spending alone will not necessarily make a company innovative.

According to the 2008 Ready to Innovate report by The Conference Board, Americans for the Arts, and the American Association of School Administrators:


  • 97% of U.S. business executives agree that creativity is becoming more important in the workplace.
  • 85% of U.S. executives looking to hire creative people say they cannot find enough qualified applicants.
  • 61% of U.S. executives say that employers have the responsibility to instill creativity in the workforce.


So how can companies encourage creativity among their employees in order to drive innovation?

Foster Critical Thinking features successful case studies from the Innovation Institute, which provides artist-led professional development programs for individuals and teams from various companies within Charlotte metro area and beyond, and Kohler Co. in Wisconsin.

Where the Innovation Institute seeks to reawaken creativity and innovation by bringing businesspeople into an artistic setting, Kohler takes a different approach and brings art into the workplace. The company partners with the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, an independent contemporary arts nonprofit organization, on an artist-in-residence program called Arts/Industry. The artists who participate in Arts/Industry use Kohler Co.’s industrial equipment and materials to produce their art—right alongside Kohler Co. associates building bathtubs, sinks, faucets, and other household fixtures. In 2011, Americans for the Arts was pleased to honor Kohler Co. with the BCA Hall of Fame Award for their engagement with the arts.

By learning from professional artists, employees can perhaps recognize the artistic value in their own work and realize that building a fine bathtub is not so far removed from building a sculpture, that writing a compelling report bears some kinship to writing a novel, that art and business are in fact interlinked on many levels.

Arts partnerships offer companies effective and cost-efficient methods of achieving critical business goals. The first essay in The pARTnership Movement essay series, Recruit and Retain Talent, shows how, by partnering with the arts, businesses can attract and retain the talented, motivated people they need in order to gain a competitive edge and outperform the competition. The second essay, Put Your Company in the Spotlight, explores how engaging with the arts can help a business build market share, enhance its brand, and reach new customers.

Do you know of a company that partnered with the arts to foster critical thinking? We want to hear from you! Tell us about it on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us at

Read more about how top businesses are partnering with the arts to foster critical thinking.

Learn more about The pARTnership Movement essay series.


Photo: Innovation Institute participants at McColl Center for Art + Innovation.


Turn Your Stay into a Work of Art

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
Turn Your Stay into a Work of Art

Known for its extraordinary architecture and elegance, the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee is much more than a place to rest your weary head. Since April 2009, the Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence program has put the hotel on the map as a hospitality hotspot for those with a palate for the “palette.”


The Artist–in-Residence program transforms the hotel lobby and common spaces into a working art studio and gallery, open to hotel guests and visitors. The business center on the ground level has been renovated to accommodate both a workroom for artists as well as a space where art can be displayed. The community is encouraged to visit the hotel to witness the evolution of each piece first hand.


The Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence program is a member of the international Alliance of Artists Communities, an organization with more than 250 members that serves a diverse field of artist communities and residencies, supporting living artists in the creation of new work. Currently, the Pfister hosts artist Stephanie Barenz, a painter and architecture enthusiast from Milwaukee. Barenz was one of six finalists included in a 4-week public voting period. She was ultimately chosen by a selection committee consisting of leaders in the local art community as the fifth artist in the Pfister program. Her work focuses on travel and how journeys can transform perceptions of home, or other places visited.


“Each year, we are repeatedly impressed by the quality of artists who apply to our program,” said Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “We’re thrilled to be attracting such amazingly talented artists like Stephanie. Her proposal to bring a unique perspective by incorporating the memories and habits of the traveling public into her visual expressions will be an outstanding addition to the work of previous Pfister artists.”


“The Pfister is the perfect stage for my work, which deals with how travel affects one’s relationship to place,” comments Barenz. “The hotel carries thousands of stories from over a hundred years…Over the course of the year, I plan to create a body of work that will include 20 to 30 paintings. Images of these paintings will be turned into a book and I plan to collaborate with the Pfister Narrator, the hotel’s writer-in-residence. I am so looking forward to moving into the studio, starting my project, and getting to know more of the Milwaukee community through my platform at The Pfister.”


Building upon Charles Pfister’s vision of the “Grand Hotel of the West,” the Pfister hosts an expansive collection of Victorian art. In tandem with the contemporary works from the artist-in-residence, the artistic ambiance has made the Pfister Hotel a first-choice destination for memorable events such as galas and weddings.


“For decades, The Pfister has hosted the much acclaimed Victorian Art Collection, the largest of its kind in any hotel in the world,” comments Kurth. “We want to expand on our reputation as a destination hotel for art connoisseurs by offering our guests and the public a glimpse into the world of art as it is being created—in real time, by amazingly talented artists.”


For more information on the artistic initiatives at the Pfister Hotel, visit


Inspired to start an art collection or residency program in your business? The pARTnership Movement can connect you with Americans for the Arts member organizations to advise you on pARTnerships that might work for you!


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