Investing in Emerging Leaders in the Arts

Posted by Sarah Cortell Vandersypen On March - 26 - 2012
Sarah Cortell Vandersypen

Sarah Cortell Vandersypen

“With the Government giving less to art and education, somebody’s got to give more. And that somebody is America’s corporations.” — Chase Manhattan Bank (Wu, 2002, p. 122)

During these challenging economic times, arts organizations and professionals must seek innovative funding opportunities. These opportunities include partnerships with the private sector. Americans for the Arts, in collaboration with the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) Foundation, has done just that.

In October 2010, I had the honor of receiving the 2010 NABE Foundation Americans for the Arts Scholarship. The scholarship was established in 2008 to encourage the integration of the arts into the economic education process. By investing in human capital, both organizations seek to promote creative thinking, innovation, and visionary leadership.

During the time I received the scholarship, I was completing my M.A. in Arts Policy and Administration at The Ohio State University. This unique program, a joint degree between the art education department and the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, challenges the way arts professionals think about the sector.

With its multidisciplinary approach, the program incorporates a variety of courses including economics, finance, policy formation and implementation, program evaluation, and nonprofit consulting. My graduate program has taught me to think critically about the policies and management of the nonprofit arts sector, and the NABE Foundation Americans for the Arts Scholarship has freed me to do the work I love. Read the rest of this entry »

A Swiss pARTnership (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Scott Provancher On March - 22 - 2012

Scott Provancher

As I drove up to a series of nondescript warehouse buildings, I double checked the directions to make sure I was in the right place.

Inching slowly forward, I eventually spotted the sign I was looking for: Forbo Siegling, Inc. As I got out of my car, I wondered for a second if this donor relationship visit was a good use of my time.

We often say that relationships are the key to fundraising success. But more often than not, we catch ourselves spending most of our time only nurturing the relationships that we know will lead to significant donations. We forget that most people are not born as arts philanthropists and need to be inspired by an experience or a relationship that will turn them into arts lovers.

Well “corporations are people too,” to quote Mitt Romney.

Just like people, businesses need their own breakthrough moments that inspire them to become meaningful supporters of the arts. As stewards of our institutions and the arts community, we always need to be searching for partnerships with the business community that make these special experiences happen.

Forbo Siegling, Inc. is a modest donor to the Arts & Science Council and the reason for my visit that day was to meet with the North American CEO, Wayne Hoffman. After a tour of their facility, I learned that in addition to being one of the world’s largest manufacturers of conveyer belts (think U.S. Postal Service and airport baggage systems), they were owned by Forbo which is headquartered in Switzerland. Read the rest of this entry »

Joanne Riley

The new pARTnership Movement has really resonated with the Cultural Alliance of York County (PA). Though we solicit individuals now, we started, and mostly still are, a corporate campaign for the arts.

Annually we raise $1.2 million dollars. More than 300 companies make that happen by contributing to a campaign for arts, history, and culture. That’s an incredible number considering we are a town of 44,000 and a county of about 400,000.

The founders of the Cultural Alliance were the heads of large corporations here. They supported the concept of a United Arts Fund and invested in it. We had success our first year (2000) and have continued to meet or exceed goal.

The message that we clearly stated, from the beginning, is that the arts are good for business. Though our message was not so clearly articulated as the pARTnership Movement has been, the fact is we use those eight reasons to establish the arts’ genuine ability to change our community.  Read the rest of this entry »

Stop Stealing Dreams (Part Two)

Posted by Seth Godin On March - 13 - 2012

Seth Godin

All week, we will be sharing (numbered) points from Seth Godin’s new education manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams (what is school for?). You can download a free copy of the full 100-page manifesto at

33. Who will teach bravery?

The essence of the connection revolution is that it rewards those who connect, stand out, and take what feels like a chance.

Can risk-taking be taught? Of course it can. It gets taught by mentors, by parents, by great music teachers, and by life.

Why isn’t it being taught every day at that place we send our kids to?

Bravery in school is punished, not rewarded. The entire institution is organized around avoiding individual brave acts, and again and again we hear from those who have made a difference, telling us that they became brave despite school, not because of it.

Harvard Business School turns out management consultants in far greater numbers than it develops successful bootstrapping entrepreneurs. Ralph Lauren, David Geffen, and Ted Turner all dropped out of college because they felt the real challenges lay elsewhere.

70. Grammr and the decline of our civilization Read the rest of this entry »

Margot H. Knight

Those of us in the mission-driven arts resource business (this means YOU), all have stories about the moment you connected to a donor from the business community—an authentic, real MOMENT when you and your organization connect either professionally or personally with the businessman/woman on the other side of the desk, cocktail, or dinner table.

Sometimes it happens right away. Sometimes a relationship takes months, even years, to develop.

And sometimes, that moment of truth reveals a dead-end future, or more painfully, spells the end to an existing relationship. Here is some of my best advice based on my own experiences—I hope it’s helpful:

1. Always bear in mind that money is the means to an end, not an end to itself. This premise has ripples—it means you won’t compromise your mission for money. It means you won’t get ahead of yourself in a conversation and talk about money before you talk about mission. And it means you MUST understand what your potential business partner values. For him or her, money is the means to an end as well.

2. You have to do your homework. Just like you, the person sitting across from you woke up with a notion of what a successful day looks like. Before you walk into any business, large or small, do a little research. What does the business do? How and where do they do it? How are they doing? What are the external pressures bearing on THEM? Most businesses have vision and mission statements of their own. Look them up. The old adage of “seek to understand before being understood,” comes to mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Financial Approaches Support the Creative Economy

Posted by Max Donner On March - 6 - 2012

Max Donner

Government budget deficits and budget limits of charitable foundations have made alternatives for financing arts projects more important.

Five programs in Los Angeles this February showed that many other approaches to funding the arts can work well—and help arts organizations boost participation at the same time. Each program has taken a different approach to raising funds from private sources, demonstrating that there are many different choices that match the needs of different communities.

The Princess Grace Foundation USA celebrated its 30th anniversary with a reception for past grant winners in Beverly Hills and a gala for patrons in Orange County.  Generous contributions from patrons of the arts and several corporate sponsors have raised much of the $8.5 million in grants that the organization has awarded to promising artists and arts administrators.

But a significant source of funding for these grants comes from licensing projects and exclusive commemorative “Princess Grace” limited editions. The licensing program is highly selective and this has furthered traditional fundraising by prestigious associations with licensors, including Estée Lauder Cosmetics and Mikimoto Pearls.

Seven private companies and two nonprofit film festival organizations joined the Italian Trade Commission and public cinematic arts academy to present a weeklong festival of Italian art, fashion and cinema called “Los Angeles Italia.” Read the rest of this entry »

John Bryan

John Bryan

#1 Richmond has an enviable business community as evidenced by its being one of only 11 cities to be headquarters to more than five Fortune 500 companies and one of only 12 cities to have a Federal Reserve Bank.

#2 Richmond’s arts/culture community is likewise enviable as evidenced by its emergence from the recession with all of its major arts and culture organizations thriving: symphony, opera, ballet, theatre, art museum, science museum, history museum, children’s museum, botanical garden, and many dozens more.

#3 Richmond has a slew of enviable national creative superlatives such as being home to the #1 marketing company (Martin Agency – think Geico gekko), #1 public art university (VCU), #1 university advertising program (VCU Adcenter), and forthcoming building designed by the #1 architect (Steven Holl).

Those three sentences have resulted in a three-year Greater Richmond Chamber-led initiative entitled i.e.* – a grand partnership that spotlights and energizes creativity and innovation for three purposes: enable the business community to leverage the creative community in accomplishing real business objectives; provide expanded audiences for the creative community; and foster new relationships and partnerships.

Richmond’s local arts agency—CultureWorks—is one of the active partners with the Chamber’s i.e.* initiative and three current projects demonstrate the partnership’s value. Read the rest of this entry »

Making the Case for Arts and Business Partnerships

Posted by Valerie Beaman On February - 29 - 2012
Valerie Beaman

Valerie Beaman

There are many reasons that partnering with the arts advances business goals from recruiting and retaining a workforce, to rewarding employees, to building communities, and more.

The pARTnership Movement has identified eight strong reasons for businesses to partner with the arts. While some of these reasons will resonate better than others, depending on the industry, size and needs of the business, one reason that continues to gain traction is the role of the arts in fostering critical thinking.

Building and inspiring a creative and innovative workforce remains incredibly important as the country works to increase creativity and innovation.

Did you know that creativity is among the top applied skills sought by employers? More often than not business leaders say creativity is of high importance when hiring. The arts are about critical thinking, solving and reframing problems and facts in ways that reveal insights and opportunities.

Music, creative writing, drawing, and dance provide skills sought by employers of the third millennium. In fact, 72% of companies that give to the arts recognize that it stimulates creative thinking, problem solving, and team building.

Through our work, we know that the arts play an important role in fostering critical thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

Google Doodle Celebrates Leap Day with Frogs & an Italian Composer

Posted by Tim Mikulski On February - 29 - 2012

Known for often celebrating the lives of historical figures and holidays, Google once again set out to honor this extra day of the year with a new Doodle (their homepage logo) marking the occasion and combining it with a celebration of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini.

The Doodle makes the leap from February 29 to Rossini thanks to a classic cartoon where Michigan J. Frog, later the mascot for the defunct WB TV network, first appeared as a The Barber of Seville aria singing-frog (go to the 5 minute mark) that frustrates the heck out of the man who discovers him.

Once again the creative and innovate team at Google shows us their artsy side.

To find out more about how businesses can better partner with the arts, check out our latest campaign—The pARTnership Movement!


Oscar Winners Thank the Born, Unborn, and Reborn

Posted by Kristy Callaway On February - 28 - 2012

Kristy Callaway

The 84th year of the Academy Awards has been an awesome year for the Oscars! There were representatives and entries from almost every continent and profession.

In the many acceptance speeches, appreciation and awe poured from the mouths of the Oscar recipients in English, French—and occasional profanity. Although they were gracefully cut off by fade away music, recipients (aka winners) were given the opportunity to extend their “thank you’s” off-stage while other nominees were recognized.

And who did they thank?

They thanked critical thinkers and problem solvers, communicators, collaborators, creators, and innovators…Actually, who did they not thank?

French connection: The Artist took Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Costume Design, Directing, and Music Original Score. The recipients stumbled through English and soon slipped into hyper-fluent French to thank producers, art directors, and crews for lighting, animation, sound, casting, etc.

Where are these expert talents cultivated? And how do they reach a level of super proficiency, as Malcolm Gladwell describes in Blink?

One of the goals of arts education is to produce the next generation of articulate, scholarly entrepreneurs who dare to have a vision and see it through. And only through practice, internship, shadowing, and real-world experience does one reach proficiency. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski’s IdeaLab recently posted an article that included an interview with Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler.

In the piece, Strickler is quoted as stating,”It is probable Kickstarter will distribute more money this year than the [National Endowment for the Arts]. We view that number and our relationship to it in both a good and bad way.” (Editor’s Note: Strickler has published this post in reaction to the published interview.)

He went on to explain that it is good because it could, in theory, double the amount of art in the country, but also bad in that there is room for more federal support for the arts.

While Kickstarter, and other sites like it, have the ability to take all types of art—from comics to operas—to the next level at a time when it is hard for an artist to get funding for a small project, it’s $150 million contribution to the arts is only one quarter of one percent of what is needed annually to fund the nonprofit arts sector’s $60 billion in expenditures according to Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy here at Americans for the Arts.

But, as Randy added, “This is a great illustration of how individuals are looking for a more personal connection and relationship when deciding where to donate, participate, and volunteer.”

The same principle applies with me as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Are You the Monet of Marketing? (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Reina Chadwick On February - 23 - 2012
Reina Chadwick

Reina Chadwick

Business leaders are faced with many decisions. They are responsible for a staff, various departments, as well as decisions that affect the company and ultimately their own livelihoods.

Within these decisions lies a leader’s ability to think outside of the box. Business leaders around the country are being forced to think differently as a way to cope with the ever-changing economic landscape. While this is not a brand new phenomenon, we are seeing an increase in those business leaders who are looking to the arts to build their competitive advantage.

Don’t believe me? Look right in our [Miami] backyard for a few examples of businesses that have partnered with arts organizations: Kaufman Rossin & Co., TD Bank, American Express, and Northern Trust Bank. These companies recognize that the arts play a major role in the community and that people in the community see their name, thus creating brand awareness.

But businesses are in it for more than just brand recognition. Companies that place high value on the arts in their company culture tend to have less turnaround and have more productive employees. These are just some of the incentives to working with the arts.

The InterContinental Miami is a prime example of a successful business-arts partnership as they recently initiated an arts program right in their hotel lobby.  Read the rest of this entry »

Put a Little Gaga in Your Marketing Strategy (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Tim Mikulski On February - 22 - 2012

Tim Mikulski

As I continually seek new information to contribute to our various electronic and print publications, I come across a ton of info that I want to pass along to the field, but they end up sitting on my desk waiting as other topics or projects rise to the top over that information.

In light of that, I thought this blog post can serve as an early spring cleaning (we definitely haven’t had a real winter in D.C. this year) of some of the marketing content I’ve been holding onto.

These two items are from Fast Company, a publication I highly recommend subscribing to if you are looking for different ways to address technology, design, or business issues within your own organization—particularly in the marketing realm.

When it comes to personal branding, an article from early January discusses five steps to building a better personal brand:

1. Have a home base online. While Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are excellent destinations to promote what you do, make sure that you also invest time and energy into your own personal website. Whether you take advantage of easy-to-use tools such as Squarespace or WordPress, a simple and clean online home for all your professional information and social streams is a necessity.

2. Be a better blogger. Although online pundits regularly declare that blogging is dead, such as Jason Calacanis did at a tech conference toward the end of December, blogging has simply become much more diverse. It’s no longer necessary to write multi-paragraph posts (but of course, that’s why you still come to ARTSblog), but instead services such as Tumblr make it easy for individuals to share shorter entries or snippets of text that often include photos and other multimedia. A weekly blog update (or more frequent if you can afford the time) that includes some shareable content is a useful way to drive traffic back from social channels to your website (and to establish yourself as an expert on a topic). Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry and Promise: Education Reform & the Arts

Posted by Ken Busby On February - 17 - 2012

I judged a poetry slam this weekend—Louder Than A Bomb–Tulsa!

It’s amazing to hear young people sharing about their lives and ideas through poetry. This was the second year for the event. The excitement and enthusiasm expressed by these students was palpable:

Listening to their poetry really made me start thinking anew about just how important the arts are to shaping young minds—helping build self-confidence, fostering creativity, and excelling in school. We as artists, art professionals, and art educators are very often a major factor in a student’s success.

Ten states, including Oklahoma, recently received a reprieve from complying with certain aspects of No Child Left Behind. It seems like we keep lowering our standards rather than lifting up our youth to meet and exceed the challenges put before them.

How are we going to have a capable workforce replete with skills for the 21st century if we keep lowering our requirements for graduation? Companies are spending millions of dollars every year providing remedial training. Universities are spending millions of dollars every year on remedial classes.

We cannot solve our current economic woes by burying our heads in the sand and hoping by some miracle that our youth will figure it out and be successful when we haven’t provided the proper foundation or the means to foster success. Read the rest of this entry »

Wayne Andrews

Where we live is important to each of us. It is a key part of our identity. It’s a source of pride, even if our hometown is the punch line to a joke.

Is it really the good schools, parks, and access to shopping centers that make us live where we live? Many people find a fulfilling sense of community in smaller towns and rural regions that do not have all the advantages of larger communities.

Maybe it is not the measurable elements that give a place a sense of community but rather those intangible qualities that create the feeling. Could it be that working with your neighbors to build a park is more important to the sense of community than the actual park? The arts have always been one of the focal points around that help to build a sense of community.

Town festivals, cultural events, and celebrations are often the most visible signs of a community working together. Each pumpkin festival, summer concert series on the town square, or art sale pulls together diverse elements of the community.

An example of this can be seen in Oxford, MS, which has worked to define itself as an arts community. Numerous programs have been launched in partnership between various segments of the community.

Last year working with local business owners, artists, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, a monthly art crawl was launched to highlight the visual artists in the region. Read the rest of this entry »