As we end our 50th anniversary year here at Americans for the Arts, we want to wish each and every one of you a happy new year! Throughout the year, we met and worked with stakeholders nationwide to ensure the arts had a voice from Main Street to Capitol Hill. We launched our 50 States 50 Days campaign to bring arts advocacy to cities and towns nationwide. We hosted our 50th anniversary convention, the Half-Century Summit, where nearly 1,200 leaders in the field came together to envision a bright future. We also presented one of our most successful National Arts Marketing Project Conferences to date in San Jose. And to begin this new year, we want to hear from you.

What is your resolution this year to support the arts in your community? Think big, think small. Let’s take a moment to come together and set meaningful, actionable goals for our field and all the communities we serve.

Post your resolution below! Read the rest of this entry »

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Marete Wester

On a snowy evening last December, more than 200 people gathered at the Wallraff Richartz Museum in Cologne, Germany for a discussion titled “The Role of Culture in Transatlantic Relations—Views from Both Sides of the Atlantic.”

Nearly seven years in the making, the panel was organized by the German Commission for UNESCO and AmerikaHaus NRW, Cologne. The goal was to learn about the U.S. administration’s objectives for its participation in UNESCO after a 19-year absence, and to start a dialogue on what the prospects might be to increase international cooperation.

I was privileged to serve as one of the panelists, along with Ambassador David Killion, permanent representative to UNESCO from the United States, and Tanja Dorn, vice president and artist manager with IMG Artists, who recently returned to her native Germany from New York City.

Tanja and I swapped stories about life in the “Big Apple”—though nothing compared with her tales of dealing with U.S. Visa issues. She passionately hammered home the chilling effects the costs have, especially on younger artists entering the United States.

This issue has long been one of the legislative positions on the agenda of national Arts Advocacy Day. What was new for me was hearing the issue raised nearly 3,800 miles away. Read the rest of this entry »

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Michelle Dean

As we wrap up 2010, I write my last blog installment for ARTSblog, which features an interview with American Art Therapy Association President, Joan Phillips, Ph.D., ATR-BC. Dr. Phillips enthusiastically addressed the three primary elements covered in this blog about art therapy: vision for the future of art therapy; obstacles to achieving that vision; and strategies to overcome those obstacles and make that vision a reality from the perspective of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA). Dr. Phillips discussed the consolidation of the National office to the Washington DC area in order to achieve greater collaboration with policy makers and other officials, which may be a positive influence and advocate for the field of art therapy. She also noted the expansion of the dedicated staff of the organization, which includes a now Full-time Executive Director, Susan Corrigan, and an additional six support staff to better meet the needs of the membership, provide advocacy for the profession, and increase in public awareness about the value of art therapy. Read the rest of this entry »

With Apple’s recent ban on apps that allow direct donations to charities, countless nonprofits are likely scrambling to figure out ways to raise those last few dollars before the end of 2010.  I’m willing to venture a bet that, if they don’t already have one, almost every nonprofit organization in the U.S. has considered creating an app as a direct fundraising tool.  So why has Apple decided to forego allowing nonprofits to raise money directly through an app?  It’s understandable from a business perspective, as Apple doesn’t want to be in the business of verifying charities as legitimate 501c3 organizations nor be responsible for distributing the funds of those that aren’t (not to mention, it doesn’t look great for Apple to be taking their cut from a charitable donation).

But while the app ban does not prevent nonprofits from having apps that direct users to their websites to donate, it does introduce another level of separation in a fast-paced electronic world where people want a one-touch, easy system to make their decisions on everything from purchasing a game or an album, to making friends on Facebook.  These apps allowed nonprofits to respond quickly to situations where donations and relief are needed quickly, as evidenced by the trend in mobile and electronic giving following the Haiti earthquake. Read the rest of this entry »

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The New Kid (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Laura Kakolewski On December - 15 - 20103 COMMENTS

I’ll admit it. I was nervous the night before the start of the National Arts Marketing Project Conference. I was (and still very much am) the new kid on the block, having just joined the NAMP team earlier this fall. My personal expectations for my performance made San Jose seem like a make-or-break moment. I knew from experience that nervousness tends to make me shy, and I was afraid that shyness might be mistaken for lack of interest.

But the truth was, I had a real democratic curiosity for those attending the NAMP conference, whoever they might be and whatever they might do. And exactly one month (to the day) later, I have the NAMP Conference attendees to thank for the ease I felt during my time in San Jose. I found each and every arts marketer in San Jose to be fresh and fascinating with a ready-for-anything posture that proved to be contagious.

Looking back, I knew going into the NAMP Conference that we were providing a creative forum for attendees to experiment and think more strategically when marketing the arts. And I believe that we achieved that. But even though we are responsible for setting the creative energy in motion, it was the attendees who helped catapult this energy to new heights.

Here are some of the things I noticed among attendees that deserve a round of applause: Read the rest of this entry »

Michelle Dean

In Part Two, a discussion regarding the vision for the future of art therapy from the Art Therapy Credentials Board’s (ATCB) perspective, Deborah A. Good, ATCB President and Rita Maloy, Executive Director, discussed additional endeavors to support a secure future for the ATCB and its credential holders. In the last blog, opportunities to become credentialed through ATCB were discussed and thus the discussion turns to the vision of mentoring new professionals, while helping those credentials grow credence outside of our profession. It has been noted that effective counselors, [and it could be implied art therapists] do not necessarily make effective supervisors (Dye & Borders, 1990) and so credentialing certifications have been developed to address this need.

First, let me discuss the implementation of the new certification for art therapy clinical supervisors. This credential, the Art Therapy Certified Supervisor (ATCS) is offered to qualified Board Certified Art Therapists, art therapists who in addition to obtaining registration have also successfully completed the board certification examination to earn the ATR-BC designation, and who are interested in demonstrating substantial supervision qualifications. Like the art therapy registration (ATR), the ATCS sets criteria including education, experience, and peer recommendations for potential supervisors with the goal to better prepare supervisors, while providing better tutorage of young professionals. In turn, this action may create a greater retention of professionals and ultimately increase career satisfaction. The ATCB is supporting the art therapy profession’s progress by establishing parity with other mental health professions, which have already established a credential for their supervisors, and that promotes recognition for the unique services art therapists provide while fulfilling the mission of the Art Therapy Credentials Board, to “protect the public through the competent and ethical practice of art therapy.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wally Hurst

For businesses not supporting the arts, the survey revealed another truth: that businesses give where they have an existing relationship. These businesses have a relationship with another charity that has their attention – and their funds. How does an arts organization break into that circle? By doing what you’re already doing – and by doing it well, and by making sure the decision-makers at that company know about it. Keep asking nicely, and show them what they can achieve by supporting your program(s), and see where it goes. We asked one company for years to support us, and after a while a new management person with an interest in the arts convinced his boss to listen to us – and we now have a relationship with that company and its support. It’s a process of education and tenacity.

For businesses with limited resources, suggest smaller ways to help, such as a partial sponsorship. And for those with talents or materials that you need, suggest an in-kind gift. For instance, we have a local sandwich shop that we give a full-page ad in our program to every year. In return, they feed our actors for our school-day matinee days, about 4-5 times a year. We all win. Read the rest of this entry »

Giving and Giving Back

Posted by Wally Hurst On December - 13 - 20101 COMMENT

Wally Hurst

The survey revealed many reasons that businesses do and do not support the arts. One of the main reasons given for support by business owners is that “it’s a good thing to do”. Those of us working in the arts know this, too – that is the reason many of us left other endeavors to work in the arts, often at a substantial cost personally.

To understand why businesses give to the arts is a clarion call for those of us in the arts to reach out to businesses and find out which of these reasons motivates them to support the arts in their community.

We as an arts community need to understand what it is that each business wants from our relationship with them – and then try our hardest to give it to them.

If they need recognition, give them as much as you can. Offer them plaques, employee nights, employee discount programs, advertising and public service announcements with their names all over them. When in doubt, ask them what they want. One of our sponsors likes to have their employees over for a holiday dinner and show. If that means we feed 90 people and give them free tickets for a show, that is what we do. If it means, on the other hand, that we only mention them in the posters and the front of the program and make their employees pay for their tickets, that is what we do. And if they want to be anonymous and just get a few comps, we do that too.

If they want to support educational initiatives, let them know all about your educational programs – and how they can sponsor them. All of us in the arts are teachers, and we are all responsible for at least the informal education of children and adults – and most of us have formal educational programs, too. Personally, I have found the “easiest sell” to business is the educational programs we have for young people. They all want to be associated with those programs, it seems. If we make our educational programs functional and attractive enough (publicity helps), businesses will be lining up to support them.

For businesses supporting the arts, the survey revealed another truth: that businesses give where they have an existing relationship. Read the rest of this entry »

History repeats itself…

Posted by Emily Peck On December - 10 - 2010No comments yet

Emily Peck

In 1968, 7,000 companies were asked how much they give to the arts and why they give to the arts.  In the original BCA Survey of Business Support of the Arts which was conducted in partnership with the National Industrial Conference Board we learned that businesses give to the arts to improve corporate image, improve sales and services, aid employee recruitment, attract other industries to the area, encourage tourism and benefit employees, community and society.

Sound familiar?

In the current study, many of these same reasons still resonate with the business community.  79% of businesses say that the arts increase name recognition while 74% say that the arts offer networking opportunities and the potential to develop new business.  66% say that the arts stimulate creative thinking, problem solving and team building.  While half agree that arts support has the potential to increase their bottom line and slightly fewer believe that the arts can offer special benefits to their employees and that the arts can help recruit and retain employees. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s great to see so much discussion around the purpose of arts in the workplace, and also watching people speak out on how creativity has affected their professional lives. Especially in these times it is important to remember that the arts help businesses and communities flourish.

As we’ve all been watching funding steadily decline, it is important to talk about how we can resolve this. I think it is important to look to companies that are leading by example, companies that understand the importance of keeping the arts in their giving guidelines through these tough times.

Devon Energy Corporation, located in Oklahoma City, OK, is a great example of this. Company wide there is a deep understanding of the benefits of the arts.  John Richels, president and CEO of Devon Energy Corporation said “Arts organizations play an important role in our communities. The arts inspire innovation, promote creativity and foster collaboration – all qualities that are also important in business.” This sentiment is felt through out the entire company, from employee volunteerism to work place giving campaigns and board leadership. Read the rest of this entry »

Paradigms and Comic Books

Posted by Megan VanVoorhis On December - 10 - 20101 COMMENT

Megan Van Voorhis

I read a lot. And mostly, I read books and publications that fall outside of the arts and culture arena. For me, this practice helps me find new ideas from other fields that might be of value to my work. Perhaps it could also be considered my protection against paradigms. I first started examining paradigms in business school. My professor, Richard Osborne – aka “The Gorilla,” brought them to our attention in a case study. We noted that while paradigms can provide a framework for thinking about issues, they can also be a barrier to creative problem solving. The takeaway from that discussion was this: if you reach a block in solving a problem, or for that matter identifying a problem for a client, ask yourself what paradigms the organization is operating under and then ask yourself how the problem and solution would look if you changed the paradigm.

In reviewing the blog posts from my peers about business support of the arts, I almost wonder if we need a paradigm shift. It seems we might be heading in that direction, as many bloggers have commented on how the arts are helping business as a means to reinvigorate support for the arts. I wonder, however, if we could take that a step further. Instead of asking “How and why are businesses supporting the arts and how can we get them to do more of that?” Perhaps we should be asking “How can the arts and business work together for mutual gain?” How would that change our dialogue and the nature of our collaborations? Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Thoughts

Posted by Katherine Mooring On December - 10 - 20101 COMMENT

Katherine Mooring

In thinking of “closing thoughts” for this most excellent round of online opinionating, I am wondering if anyone else has read Carol Mase’s fascinating paper, “The Adaptive Organization.” If not, you can download it online from Mase’s Cairn Consulting site (embed link: http://cairnconsultants.com/index.php). The piece is all about how we deal with change, both as individuals and as organizations. Mase’s theories have been percolating in my brain since I began writing the Monograph because, fundamentally, that’s also what the BCA findings invite us to consider.

“The Adaptive Organization” explores the effects of “destabilizing events” that disrupt organizations, diverting them from a comfortable status quo and directing them toward some unknown (often scary) future state.  As arts organizations, we might see such “events” as the economic recession, declining corporate support, fewer human resources…or, as it’s often seemed over the past few years, the perfect storm of all of these realities coming together at once. As many in our field have suggested, steering our way through the aftermath requires creativity and innovation. “Unfortunately,” as Mase writes, when “faced with the need for widespread institutional change, we resist, preferring, either consciously or unconsciously, to wait until destabilizing external forces beyond our control impose change upon us. We hold tight to the existing status quo, continually reinforcing what isn’t working.” Recognize anyone in that boat these days? Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Whitacre

Jeff Hawthorne’s assessment that we need to listen to corporations to address their needs resonates with our experience here at National Corporate Theatre Fund.  His point about the employee focus, which others in this round of blogs have made, rings especially true to us.

As a national representative of resident theatres located all across the country, we focus our attentions on the New York companies that do business in those markets.  Yet this abstract geographic argument—talking to New Yorkers about supporting theatres they may never have heard of—is bolstered by our highly popular employee access programs for New York and national theatre.  THAT point, the employee access, has been more compelling than the “arts per se” argument, no matter how prominent and successful our member theatres may become.

Yet many of our colleagues in the culture business note how difficult it can be to activate employee access programs.  Companies are large and geographically dispersed; arts-loving employees may be hard to identify; corporate communications channels are already strained with the volume of other messages they must carry.

Here are some employee-engagement best practices we have seen or used.  Please add more! Read the rest of this entry »

Amena Brown

As a follow-up to my previous blog, “Poet and a Cubicle,” here are two ways to use creativity and the arts to liven up a business meeting.

We have all endured them: the dreaded department meeting with more tedious agenda items than should possibly be covered in a two-hour time span. This is the kind of meeting you only agree to because there will be free lunch. No matter how left-brained the industry, injecting a right-brain moment into a meeting can better connect employees, boost morale and encourage innovative thinking. Here are two suggestions:

Share Your Theme Song – This idea didn’t just work in the now defunct TV series Ally McBeal. Take five minutes in your meeting and have each person share one theme song that helps them make it through their work week. If your department is large, you may want to try splitting up into smaller groups for this exercise. During this interactive activity, you may find out that a senior level executive who you perceived to be stuffy is a die-hard Kanye West fan. Or you may discover that you and an intern are both avid listeners of Justin Beiber. The biggest thing you’ll discover is how music brings people together and gives each of us common ground, our humanity.

Provide a blank canvas – Before starting a brainstorming meeting, hand out a blank sheet of paper to everyone. Give them five minutes to draw or write whatever they would like. This encourages a moment of free-thinking and can inspire creativity in your work team. Allow some time for a few people to share what they’ve created. This exercise can serve as a great metaphor for what many of us do each day in our jobs, make something out of nothing, which is an essential element in the creative process.

What are some other ways you have used creative, artistic, or innovative thinking to impact the business world?

Hamburgers, fries, and the arts

Posted by Jeff Hawthorne On December - 10 - 20102 COMMENTS

We’re having lots of great discussions here about how and why businesses give to the arts, and strategies we might adopt to reverse the trend of declining corporate investment.  In an earlier post I advocated for local arts agencies to consider workplace giving and other employee engagement programs that could help inform corporate leaders’ understanding of the importance of arts and culture in their community.

Here below is some pertinent recent testimony from Mary Beth Cozza, Executive Vice President of Talent Management for Burgerville. (Is that a great title or what?!? We also like the title of her colleague, Jack Graves, Chief Cultural Officer!) Burgerville is a sustainable fast food chain in Oregon and Washington that received our award last month for having the highest number of employees participating in our Work for Art employee giving campaign. When asked why Burgerville and its employees were so involved, this is what she said:

Burgerville is a company committed to building thriving communities and thriving employees.  We do this through our development programs and by offering our employees many opportunities to give back to their communities and Work for the Art is one of many ways we do that. Read the rest of this entry »