Robb Hankins

Robb Hankins

As part of ArtsinStark’s 20/20 Vision planning process, an Innovation Committee made up of ten community leaders created a strategy for positioning Canton and Stark County, Ohio as one of the 10 most innovative communities our size in America. One of the first initiatives we called the “Genius Awards.” In 2013 we began inviting companies to form 8-person teams to solve a challenge and come to the first Genius Awards, which were held on March 18 of 2014.

Here were our goals:

1) To have all kinds of companies to participate: high tech, manufacturing, law firms, banks, and newspapers.

2) To find a $5,000 sponsor, charge companies a $500 entry fee, and sell $25 tickets to the event.

3) To establish a “county innovation index” for improving the level of innovation in our county over time.

The Invite: We host one of the 60 united arts fund drives in America, so during our annual visit with company CEOs we planted the seeds for the “Genius Awards.” As soon as we got one of the biggest companies in the county to sign up and then banks and law firms, it got easier to sign up the rest. In the end, 13 companies agreed to send a team for year one. Here’s a link to the contract each company signed. Read the rest of this entry »

Megan Stewart

Megan Stewart

Only Make Believe (OMB) is a non-profit that creates and performs interactive theatre for children in hospitals and care facilities in New York and Washington DC. OMB is dedicated to the principle that freeing the imagination is a valuable part of the healing process. We send a team of three professional actors into a hospital once a week for six weeks and the actors engage the children in a performance where each child becomes an integral part of each show. The children get to dress in a costume, take on different roles, and really just take an hour to laugh, play, and enjoy being a child rather than thinking about their treatment or being a patient. We want them to just have fun with “laughter being the best medicine” through the joy and escape that the theatre can provide.

My role at OMB is to manage our corporate relations efforts through volunteerism and sponsorship, and to coordinate OMB events including the annual gala on Broadway, young professionals and networking events, cocktail parties, and other various events. The majority of my job is spent running our corporate volunteer program which has grown steadily over the past six years. Read the rest of this entry »

Misty Chambers

Misty Chambers

“Leadership by the business world is to re-invent art from being expendable to being essential.” –Earl S. Swensson, FAIA

Recognized as one of the 2012 BCA 10, our architectural firm continues to engage in arts partnerships within the community. Our leadership has understood the importance of the arts since the founding of the company by Earl Swensson in 1961.

For our employees at ESa, art and design are integral to not only what we do for a living, but, in many cases, it defines how we interact with the world at large. It is not possible to separate the artist from his intuitive draw to the arts. The incorporation of art into the environments that we design, be it in a visual, tactile or audible form, is at the core of what we do. Our young professionals show particular enthusiasm for the arts in our community, as demonstrated by their volunteerism and leadership in various firm efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Bruney

Laura Bruney

This piece by Laura Bruney of the Arts & Business Council of Miami was originally published May 30, 2014 on their blog, www.artsbizmiami.org/ArtsBizBlog.

The reality of a “divide” between the arts and direct and profitable partnerships with business and specific industries is certainly not a new topic. What is new, however, are ways that arts and businesses are utilizing their unique resources to bridge that separation and move towards a collaborative economic model. It’s about connecting resources to facilitate spontaneous and dynamic alliances. Read the rest of this entry »

Mark Golden

Mark Golden

Art groups, whether visual or performing arts groups, come hat in hand to our businesses every day. Those of us who feel extraordinarily generous shell out some funds for a listing in their program or catalogue, or sponsor a performance or program. We often take this from our donations budget, which in order to be tax deductible expense, has to be below 10% of our net profit. This money, of course, is taken away from other needs of the philanthropic budget which is a small part of even the most socially responsible business list of expenses.

It may make you feel really good, but just consider what you could do to benefit your business if you started to allocate some money for the arts from your Marketing budget, or even your HR Development budget (now these are real budgets, not based on your net profit but a significant portion of your gross sales). Let’s call it enlightened self-interest!

The business community has been rocked by the speed of change. We recognize the value of higher tech solutions to our organizations, but it is clear that there is an even greater urgency for creative, innovative thinking that comes from training in the arts. Whether it’s corporate training in problem solving, diversity, performing in public, change management–businesses are recognizing that our new employees, so well versed in their technical fields, lack some of the basic requisite skills we need in this new environment. Read the rest of this entry »

Sarah Sidman

Sarah Sidman

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

ArtsFund, based in Seattle, is a United Arts Fund with the mission to strengthen the community by supporting the arts through leadership, advocacy and grant making. This is our 45th year, and with an updated strategic plan in place, we set forth to expand our visibility and broaden our base in the community. But with a small (albeit mighty!) staff, we couldn’t do it alone.

Enter Dapper and Associates, a creative marketing company also based in Seattle. Pete Dapper, Founder & Creative Director, expressed interest in joining us in creative partnership. With a range of corporate and executive clientele, Dapper’s team was excited to work with the creative imagery inherent to an arts organization, and to add their vision to multiple platforms to help us refresh and build out our brand. Dapper, too, has a small team with big vision, so where to begin with maximum impact? Read the rest of this entry »

Debra Simon

Debra Simon

For 25 years Arts Brookfield has ‘set art free’ for the public with free cultural experiences at Brookfield’s premier properties throughout the world. Last October, to celebrate our 25th Anniversary, Arts Brookfield launched Art Set Free, an unprecedented global arts showcase that’s on a mission to raise awareness about the importance of free public art while offering artists of any level the opportunity to have their work seen by millions worldwide.

Through Art Set Free, we hope to engage the global arts community and encourage artists working in any genre to make the world their stage and set their own art free. To participate in Art Set Free, artists capture their work in a photo, video or audio recording; and then share it on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram with the hashtag #ArtSetFree. Entries are welcome from any genre, including dance/movement, music/sound, painting, sculpture, photography, and street art. Read the rest of this entry »

Amy Webb

Amy Webb

“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” -Betty Bender

My name is Amy Webb, the newest member of the Americans for the Arts staff and the Director of Arts & Business Council of New York, and I’m so excited to kick off this week’s Unique Business Partnerships blog salon!

My goal in my new position is to increase our New York City presence and enhance connections between the arts and the business communities using a variety of current and developing programs. One of these is the implementation of an employee engagement program for businesses to connect employees with the arts and to help businesses increase recruitment and retention as well as overall employee satisfaction in the workplace. In my last job at Neuberger Berman–an asset management firm–I witnessed a transformation in the workplace once a well-rounded employee engagement program was put in place. There was a buzz around the office and it seemed like, for the first time, everyone was involved in something artistic. There are numerous ways–both big and small–to bring art to your employees, and from my experience they will thank you. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

Earlier this summer, you may have read Kristen Engerbretsen’s, Americans for the Arts’ Education Program Manager, blog post about the final event of the 2013-14 Vans Custom Culture program in NYC. It was an exciting, inspiring and high-octane event honoring some of the most innovative shoe designs I have ever seen. Being able to spend time with Vans employees – a company that values the arts as a vital part of education, community and life as told by their Brand Manager in this blog – and the students whom they work with as part of this program, was definitely one for the books!

However, did you know that the Custom Culture program doesn’t end with a big party in NYC? Read the rest of this entry »

Nina Simon

In light of our upcoming webinar on July 23 at 3pm on sports and arts partnerships, the World Cup final this weekend, and our upcoming blog salon next week on unique arts/business partnerships – we reached out to Nina Simon and asked if we could repost a blog she wrote for Museum 2.0 on learning from the growing popularity of soccer in the United States, and how we might relate and apply it to the arts world.

It’s World Cup time. And for the first time in my adult life as an American, that seems significant. People at work with the games running in the background on their computers. Conversations about the tournament on the street. Constant radio coverage.

If you are reading this outside the United States, this sounds ridiculously basic. Football/soccer is the world’s sport. But in the US, it has only recently become something worth watching. For most of my life in America, pro soccer was considered something risible and vaguely deviant, like picking your nose in public.

But now it’s everywhere. It’s exciting. And it’s got me thinking about how we build energy and audience for the arts in this country.

Read the rest of this entry »

Too Big To Fail

Posted by Erin Gough On July - 11 - 2014No comments yet
Erin Gough

Erin Gough

One of the wonderful things about the annual Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention is that the discussions held there reverberate beyond the days of the conference and beyond the people who were able to participate in person. As someone who was unable to attend, I was so pleased to be able read about, and dig into, some of the dialogues that were held last month in Nashville.

My interest was piqued when I read Devon Smith’s piece on the fate of failing arts organizations. She dives into a debate session held at convention on the controversial but essential argument that as an arts community, we too often distribute scare resources to keep struggling organizations on life-support when it may be more beneficial for the arts ecosystem as a whole to let them die gracefully. Read the rest of this entry »

Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

On June 22nd I visited Berkeley to attend the Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA) Writers’ Workshop. This workshop is a week-long conference for writers of color with workshops led by award-winning writers in a variety of genres, including fiction writer M. Evelina Galang, poet Patricia Smith, memorist Andrew X. Pham, and novelist Junot Diaz, among many others.

The organization was founded in 1999 by Junot Díaz, Elmaz Abinader, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones. Each envisioned an arts organization that could change the landscape for writers of color by supporting individual writer growth, creating a platform for community engagement, and providing a workshop and mentor focus to expand writing opportunities. Fifteen years after its founding, it has become one of the most esteemed writers’ conferences in the US. Read the rest of this entry »

Robert Bettmann

Robert Bettmann

Arts journalism is changing rapidly. Newspaper coverage has shifted, and the number of blogs and small magazines covering the arts has grown exponentially. While it’s uncertain what the structural changes in arts journalism will mean for the arts over the next twenty years, changes are happening and affecting audience participation.

As an artist, editor, arts writer and arts advocate, I was right at home moderating the “Future of Arts Journalism” panel at the recent Dance Critics Association (DCA) conference held in downtown Philadelphia at the Gershman Y. The DCA was created in 1973, “when a group of dance critics attending a Philadelphia arts conference saw a need for an organization that represented working dance critics.” The annual DCA conference draws leading arts writers from across the country for a weekend of panels, performances, and trainings. As she has before, critic Elizabeth Zimmer led the “Kamikaze Dance Writing Workshop”, which is a two-day boot camp for young and aspiring dance critics, and as he has before DCA Board Chair Robert Abrams organized the conference volunteers, and panelists. Read the rest of this entry »

Jay Dick

Jay Dick

Over the past 10 years as a staff member of Americans for the Arts, I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about how we as a nation support the arts and culture. I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of talented and innovative individuals across the nation. I have also learned a great deal from serving on two local boards, the Arts Council of Fairfax County and Arts for LA. Now, I have a new opportunity to help advance the arts in America.  Starting July 1st, I will begin a five year term as a Commissioner for the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA). I am very grateful to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for presenting me with this opportunity.   Read the rest of this entry »

Ella Van Wyk

Ella Van Wyk

“There’s nowhere to go but on!” – Feist

Let this blog begin with my gratitude for the amazing experience I have had over these last few days. Receiving the Arthur Greenberg Memorial Scholarship Award is an event that has truly influenced my career, and will benefit my organization and my local arts community.  Thank you to Abe Flores, Rebecca Burrell, and Adam Fong for taking the time to have genuine conversations with me and truly contribute to the work I am doing.

Attending a conference is too passive a description for these last few days. I learned, sang, listened, laughed, digested, deliberated, rejected, reinforced, inquired, decompressed, and grew. I watched Robert L Lynch (CEO of Americans for the Arts) and Jonathan Katz (CEO National Assembly of State Arts Agencies) jam together. They spoke about leadership, their nonlinear careers, they read their own poetry, sang songs, enjoyed each other’s company, and celebrated each other’s achievements! I met fantastic people from across the country, Canada, and the UK who are all fighting for the same cause, attacking similar challenges and were open and willing to share ideas, brainstorm and listen. I sang with Ben Folds. I stayed up until midnight disseminating what I’d experienced that day making To-Do lists and resource wish-lists so that when I get home I can hit the ground running and implement all I have experienced here. I received wisdom, knowledge, empathy, and suggestions from leaders in the arts and experts with invaluable years of experience. Read the rest of this entry »