Lia O'Donnell

Lia O’Donnell

While the need for something bright and eye-catching to bring energy to an office environment might be obvious, many corporations are looking to do even more than just put art on their walls—they want to support the creative economy. At the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston (A&BC), we’ve created a program that not only brings art into offices, but supports the professional aims of local artists.

Launched in 2012, the A&BC’s Corporate Art Partnerships Program seeks to forge greater connections among business and arts communities by bringing extraordinary, original artwork by local artists into Boston’s workplaces. This program is grounded in our philosophy of investing in artists and is an outgrowth of our now ten-year commitment to the professional development of artists through programs like the Artist’s Professional Toolbox. True to our mission—and unlike many other lending programs—we share program revenue with the lending artists. The loan of artworks also provides opportunities for works to be purchased outright by our clients. This Corporate Art Partnerships Program is part of our strategic plan to develop deeper and richer relationships with businesses and to invest in the local arts community.

“We heard from our corporate sponsors that they wanted to engage with art on an ongoing level, even beyond sponsoring an annual event,” says our Executive Director, Jim Grace. “At the same time, through our work serving visual artists through our Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts program, we often would hear how artists are frequently asked to exhibit their work in non-traditional rental-type settings without remuneration. Finding a way to create deeper engagement with our corporate sponsors while creating a paid opportunity for the artists was the genesis of the Corporate Art Lending program.”

The fact that we share program revenue directly with exhibiting artists is a deciding factor for many corporate partners who are looking to support the creative economy at its roots. They know and value that a portion of their investment is going directly to artists, and the balance supports artists through A&BC’s direct legal and business services and educational programming.

Artwork is most often loaned for a one-year period from the date of placement. As current lending artist, Hilary Zelson, recently explained, “The one-year lending format encourages businesses to rethink why they display art, and what kind of art is important for them to put on their walls.” The program’s manager, Lia O’Donnell, carefully guides firms through the art selection process, taking measurements, making suggestions, and sharing background information on the artists and the work in the portfolio.

All loaned artwork is also available for purchase. To facilitate interest and sales, we include contact information on the wall label as well as a QR codes that point to the artist’s website. We’ve have success with the sales of loaned works—as well as the sales of other pieces presented during the selection process.

Corporate partners know that original artwork can be an especially valuable client engagement tool. A&BC long-time supporter and art lending client Peter Lando of law firm Lando & Anastasi speaks to the virtue of having high-quality art as means to connecting to clients on a personal level.

“Art is great way to break the ice, because art itself is conversation,” says Lando. As a firm specializing in patent and intellectual property law, Lando & Anastasi’s clients are creative thinkers working on the cutting edge of biotech, software and technology fields. “[As attorneys] we support the creative process most often in technology…[so] it suits us to work with artists as creative thinkers and creators.” He added, “If the purpose of art in the office is to somehow make you feel good, take you momentarily away to appreciate the world around us, we have succeeded.”

Forging partnerships with businesses who are equally devoted to supporting the local creative community, A&BC has created a new source of revenue to not only ensure the sustainability of our organization’s existing programs serving artists, but also to compensate artists directly. By participating in our Corporate Art Partnerships Program, our corporate sponsors can engage with clients, create community with their employees, and ultimately support their missions and business goals.

Our blog salon on Unique Business Partnerships this week is generously sponsored by Drexel University Online.

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The pARTnership Movement


The pARTnership Movement is a new initiative from Americans for the Arts that provides businesses and arts organizations with the resources they need to make meaningful collaborations; partnerships that not only support a healthy, creative and artistic community, but that also give businesses a competitive advantage.
For more information please visit www.partnershipmovement.org.

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