My November Thanks

Posted by Valerie Beaman On November - 18 - 2011
Valerie Beaman

Valerie Beaman

What a great look into the future of the arts and business partnerships!

Thanks to our bloggers Neil McKenzie, Bruce Whitacre, Tom Tresser, John Eger, Krista Lang Blackwood, Donald Brinkman, Kelly Lamb Pollock, Christine Harris, Mary Wright, Janet Brown, Jim Sparrow, Nancy Glaze, Michael Gold, Michelle Mann, Giovanni Schiuma, Michael Wilkerson, Sahar Javedani, and Emily Peck for writing such thoughtful and provocative pieces!

Thanks are also due to all the other commentators, Tweeters, and Facebook friends.

There were so many insightful blogs this week.

Check out The Future of Business is the Arts by John Eger, a compelling plea for artists and businesses to get better acquainted; Blending Fine Art, Commercialism, & Technology by Donald Brinkman, an artist and software designer at Microsoft who believes that his most successful ideas are a product of the intersection of art and science; ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ in a Digital World by jazz artist, Michael Gold, talking about the profound effect technology will have on the arts and how we think about them.

Thanks also to our readers. Take your time exploring the wealth of ideas. Fortunately, all of the posts will remain on the site and you can view them all at any time via this link –

You can also search our blog by topic or by other tags listed at the bottom of each post. And, if you are ever interested in blogging yourself, just send us an email!

Inside Arts Based Interventions

Posted by Michael Gold On November - 18 - 2011
Michael Gold

Michael Gold

For any individual or culture to change it has to want to change.

Arts based interventions that have the potential to affect real change are engaged when someone inside the corporate culture sees the need and the potential. It is essential that such interventions be very carefully designed.

There must be a thorough and agreed upon understanding of the client’s “pain” and how an art based intervention can be applied to catalyze that pain into specific productive results. A good starting place for practitioners is Giovanni Schuima’s book The Value of Arts for Business.

The only thing that will convince corporate interests that its management needs the resource of the artistic perspective is word of mouth based on experiential results. One cannot blame Chief Learning Officers and CEOs for being skeptical. Read the rest of this entry »

Linking Creative Education & Talent Development

Posted by Christine Harris On November - 18 - 2011

Christine Harris

You see more and more reports indicating that creativity is a critical issue facing our world — and that there is a serious lack of it throughout the business environment.

No wonder we celebrate and even venerate the life of Steve Jobs because he demonstrated a heart and soul connection to his personal creativity that we don’t see too many other places, and many of us feel is missing within our own lives.

So — you would think with all of this concern about our ‘creative capital’ we would be increasing our commitment to arts education, not pulling further away from it, right? What is wrong with this picture?

I think we have both a communication issue as well as an outcomes issue.

First, the  communication issue is that despite decades of research showing the positive personal and academic impact of arts education, we haven’t moved the needle in terms of school curriculum strategy, educational budgets, or civic and corporate commitment. So, let’s stop using the same language because no one has been seriously listening for years. Read the rest of this entry »

Fort Wayne: Integrating the Arts Through Practice

Posted by Jim Sparrow On November - 18 - 2011

Jim Sparrow

In Fort Wayne, IN, the arts are an active part of the downtown redevelopment. One of the anchors to this involvement is the new Auer Center for Arts and Culture, which is aligned with our vision of integrated partnerships.

These partnerships are both traditional, such as the ballet, an arts gallery (Artlink), and the administrative offices for Arts United, as well as non-traditional, including a small business partnership with Pembroke Bakery and offices for Fort Wayne Trails.

We have also formed a Cultural District Consortium with our organization, the city, our CVB, and our Downtown Development Group that has a presence in the building. Its focus includes development of business, activities, and public art within the downtown core.

The center’s concept includes fully-integrated business services; financial, insurance, IT, phones as well as shared common space and business service staff and operational space. It is also structured with the objective of changing the operation and relationship of the arts with the community and its development.

The Auer is a community center with activity focused less on events and more on active arts and cultural space. Our model defines arts in a very broad manner, but has high-quality traditional arts at the center. Read the rest of this entry »

Creativity is the Connection to Corporations

Posted by Michelle Mann On November - 18 - 2011

Michelle Mann

Over the past 7 months, as a loaned executive from Adobe to 1st ACT, I have gained a new appreciation for the difficulties arts organizations face when raising money.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, with its corporate giants and start-up millionaires, there is very little investment in the arts and culture ecosystem. That’s because 70-80% of Silicon Valley’s wealth leaves the region.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised — understanding the global nature of business. But I am disappointed that more of my peers and former colleagues in corporate philanthropy don’t include arts and culture in their giving portfolios.

Study after study have demonstrated the link between creativity and the arts to higher academic achievement, to attainment of 21st century skills, to brain development and early literacy, and social and emotional development.

Corporate leaders talk about creativity being an essential skill for the 21st century workforce. They want  to hire people who are problem solvers, are flexible and can adapt quickly to new situations, are culturally competent and open to working with others. Read the rest of this entry »

Corporate Storytelling

Posted by Bruce Whitacre On November - 18 - 2011
Bruce Whitacre

Bruce Whitacre

“Our projects have to have a beginning, a middle and an end.”

“Don’t bring me your menu of options, A-level for $10,000, B-level for $15,000. Let’s just talk about what you’re doing and let me figure out how we can be part of it.”

“We’ve been tasked to put the A for Arts into STEM for the next Clinton Global Initiative meeting.”

These are not foundation executives or nonprofit executive directors talking. These are community relations executives at three Fortune 500 companies.

I also saw this phenomenon at the IEG sponsorship conference last spring, when GE and Xerox explained how they are using sponsorship to enter a new country or demonstrate logistics prowess through a sports franchise. Or a company that uses its pro bono work on behalf of a nonprofit to develop in-house expertise that will be resold to the commercial market.

What does all this mean to me? Read the rest of this entry »

Creating Lasting & Successful pARTnerships

Posted by Emily Peck On November - 18 - 2011
Emily Peck

Emily Peck

All week, ARTSblog has been featuring stories about how and why the arts can help businesses achieve their business goals.

We know from talking to all of you at conferences, on webinars, by email, and various other ways that these partnerships have been happening everywhere to enhance the critical thinking and creativity skills of the corporate workforce and help businesses achieve other goals including recruitment, retention, and team building.

But don’t take my word for it, check out these videos:

Looking to enhance team spirit and encourage teamwork, some companies participate in battle of the bands. These competitions take place in local communities and at the Fortune Battle of the Bands sponsored by NAMM. Check out this clip from Progressive Corps band “The Messengers.”

For 25 years, Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program has partnered with theaters to teach more than 15 million people lessons that impact the company’s bottom-line about healthy eating, peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse and more. Watch excerpts from the program and hear from students, teachers and doctors about the results:

Read the rest of this entry »

Arts & Culture Can Help Solve the Creativity Crisis in Business

Posted by Neil McKenzie On November - 18 - 2011

Neil McKenzie

There is a lot of buzz right now about how the U.S. is in a creativity crisis. Even businesses are getting into the act as a result of the poor economy and an uncertain future.

In a recent study conducted by IBM, executives cited creativity as the key to success, “chief executives believe that — more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision — successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.”

My guess is that businesses are looking for people who can think “outside the box” while being able to work in a team oriented and collaborative environment. Most organizations require or even demand conformity and the shift to developing a creative business atmosphere may not come easily.

When things are going well in a business the problem is fulfilling demand and increasing productivity to get more goods going out the door. Today the problem seems to be to grow demand in a slow economy and create new products and services for today’s global economy. The days of achieving a good bottom line through cost cutting are probably over.

I wonder if Apple has a creativity crisis? Read the rest of this entry »

Arts-Based Learning: Not an Either/Or, But a Both/And

Posted by Kelly Lamb Pollock On November - 17 - 2011
Kelly Lamb Pollock

Kelly Lamb Pollock

At the end of August, when the staff at COCA (Center of Creative Arts) in St. Louis, MO, is typically enjoying a rare moment to breathe — between the end of a busy summer of arts camps and before the dance, theatre. and visual arts students return for fall classes — we were in high gear hosting an unlikely population of arts participants.

COCA’s new program, COCAbiz, was hosting its first Business Creativity Conference “Play @ Work,” which attracted the likes of Boeing engineers, architects from Cannon Design, and Nestlé Purina and Anheuser-Busch executives.

Accountants, marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, and business managers from St. Louis’ top companies listened to nationally regarded speakers on innovation and rubbed shoulders in arts-based learning sessions.

After more than twenty years of focusing almost exclusively on students with a penchant for dance, theatre, or the visual arts — for arts’ sake — we at COCA have come to understand that developing skills through the arts, using the arts as the vehicle to learn the lesson, instead of just as the lesson itself, is the key to our relevance, sustainability, and impact. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching “Creativity & Business”

Posted by Tom Tresser On November - 17 - 2011

Tom Tresser

On Saturday, January 15, 2011, I started teaching “Got Creativity? Strategies & Tools for the Next Economy” at the Stuart School of Business at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

I had twenty master’s degree students, almost evenly divided between those born in the United States and those from abroad (China, India, Saudi Arabia).

There are many compelling reasons for a business school to offer classes on creativity and innovation. We now live in what has been variously called the creative economy, the experience economy, and the age of creative industries.

It’s no secret that America makes more money and employs more people in the creative sectors than it does from making and moving stuff.

The total revenue of the U.S. copyright industries in 2007 was $1.5 TRILLION. That’s 1 point 5 followed by 12 zeros! In 2005 the U.S. copyright industries had foreign sales of about $110 billion. That dwarfed the foreign sales for the U.S. auto industry, which was about $70 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

The Art for Art’s Sake Conundrum

Posted by John Eger On November - 17 - 2011

John Eger

Picasso once complained: “Everyone wants to understand painting. Why don’t they try to understand the song of the birds?”

He once is alleged to say he would’ve been a writer but he’s not; he’s a painter, so don’t ask him to explain anything about his work.

What an artist does, what a painting or sculpture says, is not something most artists want to explain in any great detail. The work speaks for itself.

What arts role is in society, however, is a little easier for the artist to do. Talking about the relationship art has to economic prowess is not so easy. Not for the artist. Not for the business executive.

Yet, the future of business is art some say.

At least that’s what The Conference Board said when it released Ready to Innovate, a study which states, “U.S. employers rate creativity and innovation among the top five skills that will increase in importance over the next five years, and rank it among the top challenges facing CEOs.” And IBM, after interviewing 1500 CEO’s said creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing even integrity and global thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

Ask Not What the Company Can Do for You…

Posted by Krista Lang Blackwood On November - 17 - 2011
Krista Lang Blackwood

Krista Lang Blackwood

How often do we artists walk into a company supportive of the arts and ask, “What can we do for you?”

Do I hear crickets?

Yep. Those are definitely crickets.

Here’s how it usually happens; we walk in and immediately start defending our existence, and then we ask for money. We tell companies what kind of a public relations boon it will be to give to the arts, outline how we’ll use the logo in our materials, talk about wording for sponsorship, and then wait for them to write the check.

If they don’t write the check, we grumble about how they just don’t understand. Then we come back in a couple of months and try again.

What we should do is find a way to serve the businesses who serve us with sponsorships. The former mayor of Kansas City, where I live, commenting on nonprofit/city government partnerships, said, “I love nonprofits and think they deserve city support. But only if they provide a service better than the city can.”

So how can we provide a service? And if we start to think along those lines, will we lose our art? Read the rest of this entry »

Recruit and Retain: How the Arts Can Help Business Grow Your Local Economy

Posted by Neil McKenzie On November - 17 - 2011

Neil McKenzie

Our economic growth is stuck at a snail’s pace and at the same time our federal government seems unable or unwilling to find any meaningful solutions. States and local governments across the nation are scrambling to develop their own economic development plans and strategies to fill this void.

In the past, local economic development usually had a large public expenditure component that involved raising money (taxes) to build public works projects such as roads, bridges, and public venues. Many of these efforts were also based on subsidizing new businesses through tax incentives or direct subsidies. The problem now is that public money is in short supply and using these methods are limited if nonexistent.

While most businesses have experienced less demand for their products and services and have reduced their workforces, there are many companies that are expanding. There has been a fundamental shift in the goods and services we produce as the world has become flatter through international trade and new technologies.

Many of these companies are part of what has become to be known as the “creative economy.” The creative economy is characterized by companies whose products and services have a high content of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Arts and culture can play an important role in attracting companies in the creative economy to a local area. Read the rest of this entry »

What/Who Do We Mean When We Talk About the Arts & Business?

Posted by Michael Wilkerson On November - 17 - 2011

Michael Wilkerson

I have a genius idea to fund the arts, but my grown-up son doesn’t like the work I’m doing.

As a researcher I like to solve problems, chief of which is how to fund the arts. What makes arts management exhilarating to me is the art itself; what makes it exhausting and even demeaning is the constant obsession with money.

Ideal fundraising is a meeting of minds, especially when a for-profit business, say a bank, comes to understand that its clients really want to see a performance by actors or musicians; while the artists appreciate that their sponsors – those bankers! – want to be part of the same community.

Those kinds of partnerships are as rare as they are beautiful. More typically, the arts organization is wrung out from trying to find a business that’s willing to support their real work. Thus, my dream remains that the next generation of arts managers will have a life that centers around the arts more than it centers around the lack of money.

I have a plan for a new system to create significant increases in public funding for the arts. (Read the details in my earlier post). I told my son about my plan, and how it would enable artists and arts organizations to accomplish so much more than is now possible. He shattered my evangelical fervor, saying, “It’s not going to help anyone I know about.” Read the rest of this entry »

‘Art for Art’s Sake’ in a Digital World

Posted by Michael Gold On November - 17 - 2011
Michael Gold

Michael Gold

Art is language. It expresses dimensions of human sentience that words cannot.

But the language of art and the language of spoken word co-exist in a dialectic — they both influence and change one another.

The languages of the arts are much more sensitive to change than spoken language, but both the language of art and the language of words are tremendously impacted by technology.

Virtual communications technology has the capacity to radically alter the rich nuance of connective qualities that spoken language has garnered from the language of art and vice versa over millennia. Look, for example, at how quickly language is being transmogrified by young people who engage in a constant flow of multiple conversations 12 hours a day through texting devices.

Technology will profoundly affect the artistic landscape in the coming decades. And debating the intrinsic value of a work of art will become even more critical as a means of combating the attention deficit that comes with digital society. But will the notion of “arts for art sake” mean the same thing that it did in the past in a culture structured by virtual reality? And, if not, what will arts for art sake possibly mean? Read the rest of this entry »