President Obama

President Obama speaks about his new tourism plan in Disney World.

Our President & CEO, Bob Lynch, is always on the road extolling the virtues of the arts and arts education on behalf of our members and the general public.

Recently, Bob spent a whirlwind week talking about tourism, business partnerships, and advocacy in Orlando, Houston, and Miami.

In Orlando, Bob was sworn in for a two-year term as a member of the United States Travel and Tourism Board. He was honored to receive the appointment and feels it is a great opportunity for the organization and the field.

The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The board consists of up to 32 members that advise the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry, offers counsel on current and emerging issues, and provides a forum for discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related problems.

Little did he know that he and the Advisory Board would also have the opportunity to experience a critical press conference held by President Obama (right in the middle of Disney World’s Main Street USA – incidentally a 2011 BCA10 honoree) in which the President put forth his plan to utilize tourism to create jobs and bolster the American economy. Read the rest of this entry »

The first meeting of the Business Committee for the Arts, Inc.

When David Rockefeller, the CEO of Chase Bank, gathered business leaders together to form the Business Committee for the Arts (now a division of Americans for the Arts) he understood the important role of the arts in advancing business goals.

In this first speech, Rockefeller said, “From an economic standpoint, such involvement can mean direct and tangible benefits. It can provide a company with extensive publicity and advertising, a brighter public reputation, and an improved corporate image. It can build better customer relations, a readier acceptance of company products, and a superior appraisal of their quality. Promotion of the arts can improve morale of employees and help attract qualified personnel.”

David Rockefeller is not the only CEO who has understood that importance of partnering with the arts. Countless CEOs, HR managers, marketing executives, and corporate foundation officers have spoken about the benefits that have resulted from these partnerships.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Booz Allen Hamilton Ralph W. Schrader, said, “The arts inspire each of us in different ways, provoke thought, spur creativity, and connect us with one another in a shared experience. These are essential qualities of a strong and successful business as well.”

Honorary Chairman and Co-founder of H&R Block, Inc. Henry W. Bloch believes, “It is in the best interest of every business–no matter its size–to support the arts. Beyond their intrinsic value, the arts add to the economic vitality and quality of life of our communities. They also unleash creative ideas in and out of the workplace, foster dialogues, and increase understanding among people.”

However, there are too many business leaders who are unaware of the value of partnering with the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding a Local Business Partner to Support the Arts

Posted by Wayne Andrews On December - 7 - 2011

Wayne Andrews

The arts have always been a reflection of community — creating from the cultural fiber of their environment and serving as the original grassroots marketers.

This connection between community and the artist has been the key to building support. In the technical terms of marketing professionals, artists create brand loyalty and businesses have started to recognize the value of partnering with the arts to reach their loyal customer base.

Check any social media site and you will find a wealth of businesses trying to show their support arts and charitable organizations.

Pepsi has their Refresh Project, CITGO offers to Fuel Good, Maxwell House offers Drops of Good, and Tom’s of Maine offered a nationwide promotion entitled 50 States of Good.

This drive to connect is beneficial as the programs offer access to funds for groups both large and small, while providing marketing a media that expands the reach of groups. Yet, many of these programs although seemingly altruistic, are just efforts by corporate marketing departments to create a program that makes a national company feel local.

Still, these programs have value because they encourage smaller, local companies to think about how to support their communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from the Creative Economy

Posted by Max Donner On December - 2 - 2011

Max Donner

Art is more than beautiful. It is profitable.

Challenging economic times have sent financial experts back to the drawing boards. Impressive results from centers of excellence in the creative economy offer a vision for sustainable economic growth.

Arts administrators who need to convince their supporters and their communities to advance the programs that make creative economies work also need to understand what works best and why. These success stories can invigorate this dialogue.

While much daily businesses news is bad news, firms that have chosen art as a core competence and engaged many artists and designers continue achieve impressive profits and growth:

1. Swiss timepiece and design firm Swatch Group reported this summer that annual sales increased 11% and profits grew by 22% over the same period in 2010. Swatch introduced its first “Art Special” at the Pompidou Centre in 1985. Since then, it has continued to commission innovative art by leading contemporary artists such as French painter Grems and sculptor Ted Scapa. The Swatch corporate strategy of building a company on a foundation of artistic talent has also built expertise in art business, for example, using sophisticated models to calculate limited edition amounts.

2. BMW employs more artists than all other auto manufacturers combined. The results speak for themselves. While General Motors and Chrysler have experienced chaotic bankruptcies and Toyota reported its first losses in decades, BMW sales and profits have continued double digit growth. This summer the company launched the BMW Guggenheim Lab together with curators from the Guggenheim Museum in New York to learn more about the foundations of the creative economy. BMW also reported record financial results: annual sales increased 17% while net profits nearly doubled to $2.5 billion for the spring quarter, the equivalent of $10 billion a year. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Incubators: Creating a Roadmap for Resilience

Posted by Ebony McKinney On November - 30 - 2011

Ebony McKinney

This post is part of a series on emerging trends and notable lessons from the field, as reported by members of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Council.

Increased creative freedom, autonomy, and flexibility have come with a more precarious work style. This is becoming the new normal, even outside of the creative realm.

Does this make artists and creatives “new economy pioneers” prototyping the workstyle of the ‘conceptual age’? If so, what advice can we offer? Can we create a roadmap for resilience?

In this post I’d like to consider how arts incubators play an important role in not only supporting innovation and risk taking, but also by cultivating our most important assets — social and human capital.


In 2007, Bay Area Video Coalition’s (BAVC) Producers Institute for New Media, began in San Francisco. The institute was developed because BAVC recognized that traditional cinema didn’t inspire people to take action. Also, new media was becoming more prolific and gradually more accessible. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices


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.

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