Shaking Up Employee Volunteer Programs

Posted by Maura Koehler-Hanlon On April - 24 - 2014
Maura Koehler-Hanlon

Maura Koehler-Hanlon

The following is an article originally posted on VolunteerMatch, written by vice president of Client Services Maura Koehler-Hanlon, in which she describes how she recently challenged the existing system of employee volunteer programs, and argued for an overhaul of the field. Visit VolunteerMatch for more articles about volunteering and corporate social responsibility.

Earlier this month I hit the road with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch’s VP of Engagement & Strategic Partnerships. We headed up to Portland to present to Hands On Greater Portland’s Corporate Volunteer Council to share our expertise with employee volunteer managers about how to keep your employee volunteer program (EVP) fresh and exciting. Leading up to the presentation, we had a tough internal conversation which amounted to this: how controversial did we want to be? What would happen if we just came out and said that we think EVPs should be doing more? We decided to go for it – those Portlanders are a tough bunch with all that fresh air! And it worked: when we asked the room of EVP managers “how many of you feel like your employee volunteer program is as strong as it can be?” we (not surprisingly) didn’t see a single hand. Read the rest of this entry »

Funding Arts Education One Vans Custom Culture Sneaker at a Time

Posted by Jessica Wilt On April - 11 - 2014
Jessica Wilt

Jessica Wilt

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Vans Custom Culture Brand Marketing Manager Scott Byrer on a cold day in New York City to enthusiastically talk about the exciting ways Vans Custom Culture supports arts education in addition to the company’s thriving partnership with Americans for the Arts.  I loved the excitement in which Scott spoke about his passion for arts education.  Here is an excerpt of our conversation.

JW: I’d like to know more about the history of Vans and how the founders were inspired to launch a sneaker company.

SB: Vans was founded in 1966 by Paul and James Van Doren, Serge Delia and Gordon Lee. The company started small, with one store originally selling shoes directly to the public. In those days, customers were able to walk into a store and select their own custom shoe colors! This originality and creativity has remained an integral part of the Vans brand DNA to this day. The company grew quickly, being the first shoe brand to create a product specifically for skateboarding and as such, we’re known today as the original action sports footwear and apparel company, with collections including authentic footwear, apparel, accessories and snowboard boots that are sold globally in more than 170 countries. If you’re curious to see a visual story about the history of Vans, you can check out a video our production team created on our Off the Wall TV site.

4th Annual VANS Custom Culture, Hosted at THE WHITNEYJW: Can you tell me a little about how Van Custom Culture decided to start supporting high school arts education programs throughout the U.S.?

SB: Vans Custom Culture began as a much smaller project lead by a high school art teacher in Colorado, Franky Scaglione, and his best friend, Shawn Gruenhagen, who is a sales rep for Vans. The competition was originally held between classmates at Wheat Ridge High School in Denver who customized blank Vans shoes that Shawn brought them. It morphed into a larger, national high school art competition once Shawn brought the idea back to the Vans marketing team at our headquarters in Southern California. Using Franky and Shawn’s original concept of a competition around custom shoes, we launched the first national edition of Custom Culture in 2010. The goals of the program were the same then as they are now.  First, give high school students a chance to express themselves creatively. Second, put some much needed funds back into the hands of high school art programs. Third, create a platform to raise awareness for the importance of art education in our schools.

JW: And to think the inspiration came from an art teacher – I love that story! How does the competition work today?

SB: The competition structure is fairly simple. The first 2,000 U.S. based public or private high schools to register for Custom Culture receive four pairs of Vans shoes (106, Sk8-Hi, Slip On and Authentic) to customize completely free of charge. Each pair is then customized by students to represent one of four themes: Action Sports, Music, Art, and Local Flavor. Photo submissions are made online via the Vans Custom Culture website (Due April 7, 2014) after which an internal selection and external public vote whittles the entries down to a group of five finalists who travel to New York City for the Final Event. At this event, a panel of judges selects a grand prize winning school, which receives a $50,000 prize donation to its art program. Each of the four runners up also receive donations, along with two additional $10,000 donations awarded on behalf of our program partners, Journeys and truth, to two other finalist schools.

JW: How has your partnership with Americans for the Arts enhanced this Vans Custom Culture arts education funding program?

SB: Americans for the Arts established itself long ago as a leader in the effort to drive awareness for the importance of the arts and particularly art education in our schools. Since we began Custom Culture with the goal of raising awareness for the importance of art education, we knew that guidance from experts was necessary, leading us to partner with AFTA nearly two years ago. Their guidance has a allowed us to make an even greater impact via a $50,000 donation that AFTA then distributes amongst high schools via grants. Additionally, AFTA uses part of this donation to create educational materials distributed to various schools and community organizations.Vans Custom Culture Contest Final Event

JW: How does technology play a role in the work you do as well as how your colleagues at Vans collaborate?

SB: Technology is vital to nearly everything we do at Vans, from design to production to distribution and marketing. For Custom Culture in particular, members of a large cross functional team from various departments devote their time and energy to plan and execute this huge competition yearly, each of them relying on tech in one capacity or another. For instance, our in-house video production team uses state of the art technology to shoot, edit and produce video content that tells the story of Custom Culture. These videos are uploaded and shared to multiple interactive platforms online which are created and maintained by a team of web developers and interactive/digital managers that literally build our sites and social presences from scratch. Another great example is our visual team, who’s tasked with creating an incredible experience for students at our final event in June. This experience is planned via sophisticated 3D models which allow our team to visually transform the interior of our venue and throw an amazing party that the students remember forever. Lastly, our footwear design team works directly with the winning school’s students to take their shoe design and turn it into an actual production model that is then sold in Vans retail stores and online. Our entire employee base, regardless of whether or not they work on Custom Culture, is tasked with thinking creatively and many of us have an art education background or were inspired by an art teacher or class at some point. Custom Culture is meant to be a way for us to give that experience to students who may not be able to experience quality art education themselves.

JW: How does this work environment translate into inspiring young people to explore creative careers?

SB: Our work environment is incredibly creative. The mantra we live by daily at Vans is “Off The Wall” which directly translates to thinking and living creatively. Through programs like Custom Culture, we try to expose young people to the fact that creative careers exist and one need only look as far as the halls of Vans HQ to prove that.

JW: What’s your favorite pair of Vans shoes that you own?

SB: I’ve been wearing Authentics and Old Skools for years. There’s no substitute for a pair of original canvas Authentics!

Blue Moon Shines Brightly on Americans for the Arts

Posted by Luke Woods On April - 3 - 2014
Luke Woods

Luke Woods

Blue Moon Brewing Company’s slogan—“artfully crafted”—went beyond their appreciation for craft beer, and included their dedication to art as a key component of success.

On March 1, Blue Moon took to the skies of Brooklyn, NY, to celebrate the lunar new moon, promote their beer, and raise money for Americans for the Arts through a Twitter campaign. The Colorado-based company, easily recognized by its orange-colored Belgian White ale, enlisted artist Heather Gabel and Johalla Projects, a team of Chicago-based creatives, to bring public art to the people of Brooklyn’s DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood. The installation was designed to call on art and beer-lovers alike to support a mutual cause. Read the rest of this entry »

Karin Copeland

Karin Copeland

The goals of the arts, culture and creative sectors are often viewed as separate from or counter to those of the business community. The Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia is working hard to change this perception and build a wide, two-way bridge between these communities by creating awareness around the impact of creativity in the workplace and the contributions of arts and culture to a thriving economy.

The creative sector fuels exciting, vibrant lifestyles for citizens in the Philadelphia region; and the colorful, intriguing cultural life of Philadelphia drives people to move into the city, building a stronger hiring pool. Likewise, the business communities feed critical experience and resources into the lives of artists and art-making institutions. This is why the Arts & Business Council envisions a vibrant creative sector with strong leadership — in terms of professional staff and volunteer board leaders — and a cultural scene that continues to be one of our region’s greatest assets. Through our capacity-building services, we work every day to strengthen a creative sector that is already valued for how it enriches the quality of life in our region, the jobs it creates, the visitors it attracts, and the impact is has on our children. And we champion the cause of a creative sector that has the support of audiences, businesses, donors, volunteers and government agencies. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Artists: The Need to Reach Wider Audiences

Posted by Rosalind Flynn On March - 13 - 2014
Rosalind Flynn

Rosalind Flynn

Everyone I know who works as a teaching artist has amazing success stories of student learning experiences with, through, and in the arts. There are stories about reaching the “unreachable” student, motivating whole groups of resistant learners, creating breathtaking products, deepening understandings about curriculum subjects, and engaging the minds, bodies, and imaginations of young people in extraordinary ways.

This is great stuff. This is the kind of information that should be shared.

  • How do effective Teaching Artists get the results we get?
  • What are our methods?
  • What precisely do we do in a class session or series?

We know that what we do works and we know why it works. But are we sharing this information with a wide enough audience? I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry »

Maureen Murphy

Maureen Murphy

Whether we are working on education policy or we are teaching Art Education in the classroom we face chaos, frustration, isolation, and uncertainty every day. The statistics for teachers to abandon the profession after just one year are staggering. We are all racing to keep up with the new technologically-plugged-in-student, new tests and standards, and to find the time to actually teach. We feel like there isn’t anyone there to catch us when we fall and yet we have this untapped source: each other.

Collaboration and building partnerships in our field can provide the support system that we need. It has the capacity to end isolation and frustration, and to provide experience and resources. As a collective, we have the capacity for rapid advancement and a more powerful reach. The importance of interaction and interdependence whether in the classroom or a county, a state or a nation, is a simple idea but generally not sustainable – unless we model it on what has proven successful in today’s market. Read the rest of this entry »

Ellen Keiley

Ellen Keiley

The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation was founded by Eliane and Gary Markoff in 1999 after their daughter Rachel was found to have an inoperable brain tumor. She died nine months later, one week after her and her twin sister Audrey’s ninth birthday. At the heart of Art in Giving lies a family’s hope to eliminate childhood cancer.

Art in Giving is a unique model in that it combines the arts with business to benefit an important cause. “The concept and model is so strong and is a win/win scenario for all. The artist and art owner benefits and pediatric cancer research benefits,” said Margaret Pierce, Art in Giving’s Vice President of Operations and Business Development. The artists donate 50% of the proceeds of the art, and the other 50% of the proceeds go to the artist.

Sanofi Oncology chose to lease paintings from Art in Giving’s loan program for its newly-opened location at 640 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which houses a number of oncology (cancer) research scientists. “As science can be a highly creative process, we feel that this art not only contributes to a beautiful environment but also complements the scientific creativity underway at the site,” said Beth Tyler, Head of Operations for Sanofi’s Boston R&D Hub. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Partnerships in Placemaking

Posted by Eric Rogers On February - 24 - 2014
Eric Rogers

Eric Rogers

Small places typically have small financial resources. That certainly describes the environment for Jay County (population 21,253), where Arts Place started in 1967. Small also often translates into limited audiences if an organization cannot reach beyond its traditional boundaries.

One way Arts Place has found to hurdle these obstacles has been to partner with our neighboring rural communities to create economies of scale. This approach also breaks some of the isolation natural to making the arts happen in places outside the urban mainstream.

Partnerships and collaborations have become second nature to Arts Place. While survival may have stimulated our early efforts, the benefits of such an approach have made reaching out to other communities and organizations our preferred way of making the arts happen.

Partnerships can be as simple as offering the same program in multiple communities. For example, Arts in the Parks, a series of summer workshops and community projects for children, requires significant overhead for planning, fund raising, and management during the program. But, by spreading the overhead amongst more than a dozen communities in five counties we created a more cost effective program.  Read the rest of this entry »

Nicole Faller

Nicole Faller

The following is an excerpt of an article originally posted on Business News Daily, written by staff writer Nicole Fallon, in which she cites a list how creativity is a truly essential business skill, particularly for entrepreneurs. Visit BusinessNewsDaily.com to read the full article.

What is the most important quality of an entrepreneur? Many would argue it is passion—an overwhelming love of what one is doing, and the drive and determination to see one’s dreams realized. Others might say leadership—the ability to bring a team of people together and guide them toward a common goal. But some believe that creativity—a boundless imagination that is constantly innovating and seeing the world through a different lens—is the ultimate key to business success.

Phoebe Cade Miles, daughter of Gatorade inventor Dr. James Robert Cade, is one such believer in the power of creativity. She watched her father work tirelessly to invent a product that, five decades after its introduction, is still used by athletes around the world. Today, Cade Miles is working on her own entrepreneurial project, The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. The museum, scheduled to open in 2015 to commemorate Gatorade’s 50th anniversary, explores the history of the famous athletic drink, and highlights the crucial role creativity played in its invention. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sweet Side of Arts and Business (from the pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Stephanie Dockery On January - 23 - 2014
Stephanie Dockery

Stephanie Dockery

According to the 2013 BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts, 66% of businesses who do not currently support the arts report that they have never been asked to do so.

ProjectArt, an organization aiming to close the “access” gap in youth arts education, has taken that lesson to heart – and is now celebrating an innovative and successful partnership with Jacques Torres Chocolate for holiday and Valentine’s Day promotions that grew out of an exploratory phone call: ProjectArt asked.

Children and candy are a natural link, and the giving season is the perfect time to advocate for ProjectArt’s programs, which include art instruction, promoting art access through public libraries, and gallery exhibitions for their pupils, largely from low-income areas. Stickers attached to containers of the Jacques Torres malt balls promote that “one box of chocolate covered malt balls = one free art class for a child.”

Affectionately known as “Mr. Chocolate,” Jacques Torres founded his company in New York City in the year 2000. In 1988, he emigrated from France and became the corporate pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton, then served as executive pastry chef at Le Cirque from 1989-2000. Jacques Torres Chocolate is headquartered in New York, and the chocolate in manufactured in Brooklyn, establishing him as the quintessential American dream. A supporter of New York nonprofits, Jacques Torres has a personal passion for supporting youth initiatives, making ProjectArt’s proposal a perfect fit. Read the rest of this entry »

Fostering a Culture of Giving in Hong Kong

Posted by Mara Walker On December - 17 - 2013
Mara Walker

Mara Walker

I recently returned from Hong Kong where I participated in the International Arts Leadership Roundtable organized by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. As with many countries around the world, the arts and culture organizations in Hong Kong are often funded 70, 80, or 90% by the government. They need to diversify their funding pool and are looking to the United States as a model. I was the only American among other arts representatives from Australia, Canada, England, Singapore, Japan, Korea, and many others from Hong Kong itself – all envious of our perceived high degree of private sector resources going to the arts, our ongoing ROI on public sector support, and the existence of Americans for the Arts to advance all of the arts for all the people in this country.

While there is money on the ground in Hong Kong, evidenced by the beautiful Hong Kong skyline and downtown light show I witnessed nightly, there isn’t a culture of giving. Leaders from the arts, academia, business, media, and government were brought together to discuss how to create change and foster giving to the arts and it was great to be a part of the conversation.  Americans for the Arts staff are often asked to travel around the world to talk about the U.S. funding model for the arts in order to provide a roadmap for such change. There is a sense that we’ve figured it out. It’s true that we have a long tradition of giving in this country, but private sector support could – and should – be larger. It currently accounts for roughly 30% of an arts organization’s budget, with individual giving accounting for a majority and corporate and foundation support behind. IMG_5626

On a positive note, we are seeing increases in businesses giving to the arts (2012 saw a return to 2006 levels of support) but only 4.6% of total corporate giving goes to the arts, as those dollars are always competing with social and health causes for attention. Businesses focus their arts giving on impacting the communities in which their employees live and work, and we are working to build the awareness about how partnering with the arts can help them reach their business goals. I spoke about our pARTnership Movement campaign when I was in Hong Kong and how we are demonstrating that connection by changing the dialogue to less be about an ask for money and more about building strong and lasting arts and business relationships that are mutually beneficial – financial support often follows.

That isn’t to say that “the ask” isn’t important. “The ask,” whether for funding or partnering, is everything. Positioning the arts as a solution provider that builds employee creativity and retention and strengthens the community is key. We have seen the power of collaboration time and time again, which is why we feature success stories on our website, recognize where partnerships have been effective through our BCA 10 awards and communication vehicles, and share ideas for creative partnerships at conferences and gatherings.

Our meeting space in Hong Kong was in the new Asia Society complex which beautifully stands as a testament to partnerships, constructed with funding from both government and private sources. The venue now has not only a meeting space but also features a theatre and gallery, where they were showing the daring “No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia” exhibit, jointly presented by the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation New York as part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. Read the rest of this entry »

Patrick O'Herron

Patrick O’Herron

At the pARTnership Movement, we think it’s fantastic that you are considering the benefits of an arts and business partnership, and that you’re sharing the values we have ignited through the 8 reasons businesses partner with the arts. But we understand that the road is long and winding, and there are pitfalls along the way. That’s why we have composed this list of the 5 things you might not be doing when considering such a partnership, and examples of how to best start.

1. Are you even asking?

According to the BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts, of the 600-plus small, midsize and large businesses surveyed, 66% of businesses that don’t give to the arts stated that they were not even asked to contribute to the arts—that is two-thirds! It is our responsibility to deliver the message to businesses that the arts can help build their competitive advantage, so write those letters, set up those meetings, attend chamber of commerce meetings and make those connections—start building relationships now.

psipostpatrick12. Are you considering small and midsize businesses?

Your first instinct as an arts organization may be to run to the nearest bank or local industry giant to seek support for your programming, but according to the BCA Survey, small and midsize businesses contribute 82% of the total contributions to the arts. Exemplary examples of small and midsize business partnerships include Caramel Boutique, a DC-based clothing store that is redefining the U Street corridor as an arts destination by hosting free art shows for local artists on a monthly basis, and the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, which turns its guests’ stay into a work of art through its Artist-in-Residence program. Download our tool-kit, “Creating pARTnerships with Small and Midsize Businesses,” as a useful resource. Read the rest of this entry »

Patrick O'Herron

Patrick O’Herron

You’ve done it. You’ve decided as a business or arts professional that you are fully ready to take the plunge and immerse yourself in The pARTnership Movement. Kudos—we welcome you into our pool of resources! (No splashing, please.)

At the same time, you’re wondering, “But how do I pARTner…?” It’s ok. Don’t get overstressed like this guy:

Take a deep breath and count to 10. The pARTnership Movement is here to help!

The first question to ask yourself is, “Arts and business? Huh? But why? Whyyyyy?!”  It’s true. Arts to business seems as unlikely as jelly to burgers, as knives to soup, as ketchup to ice cream. That’s why our clever pack of pARTnership Movement ninjas have created the 8 Reasons to Partner with the Arts—a veritable credo to live by. Print them off and carry them in your purse or wallet. Hug them. Kiss them. Love them. They are here to enlighten you. Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Whitacre

Bruce Whitacre

While corporate philanthropy has long ago shifted from community charity to strategic, carefully designed programs, a fundamental question of authenticity can undermine the soundest strategies.

If the association between a company and a cause, or the social impact of the company’s action does not resonate with consumers and other stakeholders, what is the point of the best-laid plans?

This question was examined at a recent panel convened by Barron’s and the Luxury Marketing Council, a collaborative organization of leading brands. Discussion was led by journalist and author Richard C. Morais, editor of Barron’s Penta, a quarterly magazine and website serving wealthy families. In this context, Morais addressed the inherent contradiction facing luxury brands and philanthropy — high end products are often marketed as expressions and rewards for one’s self, and this can create dissonance for philanthropic projects focused on others. Customers of these brands are also often philanthropists themselves and they are attuned to these inconsistencies.

As Page Snow, Chief Philanthropic Officer at Foundation Source, illustrated, “Individuals of wealth are approached constantly for various causes, and their BS detector becomes very finely tuned, especially at higher levels of wealth.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Jamie Kasper

Jamie Kasper

Imagine a fast-growing, increasingly diverse school district with approximately 2,700 students in grades K–12, located 12 miles from the downtown area of a city. The district currently consists of three buildings: an elementary school (grades K–4), a middle school (grades 6–8), and a high school (grades 9–12). Also imagine the following:

  • Because of the growing population, the district is building a new facility for grades 3-5 that will open in the 2013–2014 school year. This building will have a STEAM focus.
  • In addition to visual arts and music, students in the elementary school also participate in an Arts Alive class. Arts Alive is a performing arts class that focuses on storytelling; students employ dance, music, and theatre to tell and create stories. Students often comment that they wish Arts Alive would continue into the middle school because they learn so much in elementary school.
  • The administrative team—including the superintendent and other central office staff; building leadership; heads of transportation, food service, and grounds; and other leaders—has spent its last three summer leadership retreats at local arts and cultural facilities, engaged in creative arts-based learning with staff from those facilities.
  • The middle school visual arts teacher took it upon herself a few years ago to attend a robotics workshop at a local university. With the help of staff from a special robotics program at the university, she now engages her middle school students in designing, creating, and programming kinetic sculptures that use the elements and principles of design. Read the rest of this entry »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.