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What's so important about creativity?

Posted by Emily Peck
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What's so important about creativity?

We might work in the arts field, but our day-to-day work looks like any other business. We stare at Excel charts, spend hours on conference calls, write reports, and try to find the bottom of our never-ending email inboxes. Like every other industry, our work only succeeds if we are creative and innovative, if we try new things and look at old problems in new ways. As arts administrators, we are well versed in the role the arts can play in bringing creativity to the workforce—but we don’t always put this into practice.

However, this summer, we reminded ourselves of the importance of the arts and creativity to our daily work. Our inaugural Johnson Fellow, artist Tanya Aguiñiga, led Americans for the Arts’ New York office through a collaborative felting project. As a group, we explored the creative person that is inside of all of us and doesn’t always get a chance to escape at work. We had the opportunity to collaborate on a design process and experiment with new ideas and techniques. The project took us out of our usual way of working and collaborating, and it made us think about things in new ways. And, in the end, we created a piece of art that represented each of us individually and as a group.

 

No matter what industry you work in, Americans are seeing the value of creativity in their jobs. From our recent public opinion poll, Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018, 55% of employed Americans agree that their job requires them to be creative. And an even larger percentage, 60%, believe that the more creative and innovative they are at their job, the more successful they are in the workplace.

 

And how are they finding their inner creative spark? For many businesses, the answer lies in partnering with the arts. Our recently released Business Contributions to the Arts 2018 Survey, conducted in partnership with The Conference Board, asked business leaders if the arts contribute to stimulating creative thinking and problem solving—and 53% of them agreed that it does.

 

These trends align with the report Ready to Innovate, conducted ten years ago by The Conference Board, that explored the role of the arts in building creativity in the workforce. The report, aimed at business leaders, concludes, “The arts—music, creative writing, drawing, dance—provide skills sought by employers of the third millennium.”

When asked about their current challenges, CEOs interviewed by The Conference Board talked about the importance of creativity and innovation. Less than 10% are extremely satisfied with their organization’s ability to innovate. These CEOs also said that as part of their long-term vision, the want to emphasize creativity and innovation as a part of their corporate values.

 

That might sound a little grim—but there are great examples across the country of businesses engaging with artists and arts organizations to bring creativity into their workplace.

 

At Milliken, employees are surrounded by art throughout their campus and in their day-to-day work. They even integrate art into their training sessions and encourage artistic endeavors through an employee band. CEO Joe Salley reports, “Innovation, art, and design are the heart of our corporation, and are inherent in our training. 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.”

 

Hallmark’s #my5days program offers five work days per year for creative employees to renew, explore, learn, and think differently about the world and work around them by participating in their creative pursuits. According to CEO Don Hall, “As a creatively based company, Hallmark sees the arts as a source of renewal and inspiration for our employees and our business.”

 

Like our own experience, like that of Hallmark and Milliken, businesses and their employees are valuing creativity and innovation more and more as an integral part of their work experience to inspire new ideas and new ways of working that impact the bottom line. We want to provide the data and best practices to inspire even more businesses to engage with the arts.

 

Photo: Staff in the New York office making art with Tanya Aguiñiga

 

This blog originally appeared on ArtsBlog

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Teamwork Is What Separates the Good From Great Companies

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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Teamwork Is What Separates the Good From Great Companies

*As a team and workplace specialist, I believe teams are at the heart of every successful organization. If you think about today’s workplace, everyone is working in some form of a team whether it’s a team of two or twenty. It could be a sales team, global team, admin team, engineering team, leadership team or project team. The bottom line is that an organization thrives when teamwork is at its best.

There are plenty of books on the topic about what makes a high performing team or how to get the most of team members. This isn’t rocket science and yet, many companies struggle with how to work collaboratively and effectively together. How often have you heard people talk about being part of a team but not “feeling” like a team?

 

Over the past twenty years working with thousands of diverse teams across various industries, led me to conclude that the best teamwork is a group of people working together for the greater good of the team – meaning, that each person is willing to forgo their own ego, and make decisions that are truly in the best interest of the team vs their own best interest. This requires a heightened awareness of self and others. Furthermore, the most successful teams – think Olympic teams, like the women’s soccer team or the World Series Baseball team, each player shows up playing at their absolute best, energized, engaged and fully committed to the team goal. To anchor this thought further, Phil Jackson, considered one of the greatest coaches in NBA history said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” That’s a powerful statement if you stop and think about what it means. When each person shows up using their strengths, are energized and genuinely collaborating as a team, they are naturally more productive, engaged and performing at their best. Conversely, when one person doesn’t show up and perform or is unwilling to put their own interests aside for the greater good, it negatively impacts the rest of the team. We’ve all experienced this at one time or another, and in fact, we’ve all been the person who isn’t performing. No one person can make the entire team great or successful over the long term, it’s the combined expertise and efforts of every team member that enables a team and company to thrive.

 

Jessica Gaines, Business Committee for the Arts Coordinator, Americans for the Arts, shared a great example of a company who takes teamwork to a whole other level. ShoreTel, a Sunnyvale, CA-based global telecommunications vendor, organized and hosted a Battle of the Bands for its employees. They put together the bands that competed, funded music lessons to ensure they were prepared to perform, and even provided music rooms where employees could rock out at the office. Needless to say, it was a huge hit, pun intended, and cleverly integrated a form of art into the teambuilding activity. That’s thinking way outside the box.

 

If you don’t want to go that far out of the box, then at the very least, be sure your team has a clear mission and goals that each team member buys into so that they have a vested interest in the overall success of the team. Also, inject some fun activities along the way to provide opportunities for team members to build trust and stronger working relationships which makes it easier to solve future challenges.

 

Effective teamwork is good for business. Stronger relationships between team members, greater job satisfaction, energized employees and a more engaged workforce are just a few of the benefits. The accumulation of good talent is what produces great team results. When team members meet their goals, everyone wins. I’ve seen this first-hand, when team members are having fun, more aware, leverage their strengths, and are laser-focused on team results, they ultimately create a continuous positive impact. This leads to a culture of high performance, greater well-being and happy customers inside and outside the organization.

 

Companies who value teamwork understand that their organizational success is tied to how well their team members work collaboratively to achieve the overall goals. Producing excellent results and delivering value to your customers is what energizes your company culture. So, what can you do to invigorate your team?

 

*This article, written by Michelle Burke, originally appeared on Huffington Post . Link to the original article is here and appears with permission from the author.

 

Read the full story about the ShoreTel Battle of the Bands in the essay “Embrace Diversity & Team Building”.

 

Photo: Gallup’s data show teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity.” - How Employees’ Strengths Make Your Company Stronger, Feb 2014 by Susan Sorenson

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