Emily Peck

Emily Peck

Last week, I left snowy New York City to spend some time in sunny Ft. Lauderdale at the invitation of the Broward Cultural Division to talk with arts organizations about the many ways they can partner with local businesses.

We discussed how to build a successful and meaningful partnership by thinking of the needs of business first, and how to look beyond the usual suspects when thinking about potential business partners.

We were joined by local business leaders from Florida Power and Light and Merrimac Ventures who spoke about how partnering with the arts helped their business engage new customers, reach new audiences, and enhance the quality of life for their communities. For more tips on creating partnerships check out our Building pARTnerships on Your Own toolkit.

This type of training session is just one way you can use the resources of The pARTnership Movement in your community. Here are some other ideas:

  • Tell your story: Promote great arts and business partnerships on twitter (#artsandbiz), Facebook, and YouTube. Don’t forget to let us know, too!

Kara Robbins

Kara Robbins

I work in Newton, a moderately affluent suburb outside of Boston. Newton is blessed with a community of smart, talented, hard-working, and well-rounded individuals and families. Essentially, it’s the target audience for the arts—except these folks are busy!

When the Newton Cultural Alliance (NCA), an umbrella organization for participating arts and culture nonprofits, incorporated in 2009, Newton had 2 orchestras, 2 large music schools, 4 choruses, 3 visual arts organizations, 2 community theaters, 2 high school theaters, 1 nationally recognized ballet school, a museum, 3 colleges, and more.

On the business side, while Newton is one city, it is divided into 13 villages so there is no distinct city center, but rather many village centers. In theory, this is a very endearing idea but in practice, it is somewhat divisive and, until some recent efforts, no merchant association has succeeded in uniting the businesses or the community.

That being said, our local businesses are extremely supportive of area nonprofits and are always willing to donate to auctions, hang flyers, and participate in special events. In and of itself, this is a very helpful stance but it doesn’t build long-lasting or thriving relationships that will truly make a change in the community. That’s where NCA has picked up the ball.  Read the rest of this entry »

Katie Kurcz

Katie Kurcz

At last month’s Arts & Business Council of Chicago’s workshop, we learned that the secret to building cultural corporate partnerships is that there are no secrets. In fact, the core strategy is as basic as building a strong, healthy relationship.

Although this revelation is rather anti-climatic and fairly intuitive, the case studies and advice shared by the workshop panelists provided instructive takeaways about who to target, how to approach prospective partners, and what to expect in making asks.

The panel was comprised of two sets of partnership pairs representing both the corporate and the arts perspective.

Ruth Stine, director of special projects at the Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) and Business Volunteer for the Arts (BVA) consultant, presented alongside Beth Gallagher, director of community engagement at Aon.

Beth acknowledged that the best way to get support from Aon is having an internal advocate(s) already involved with the organization as a board member or volunteer. The more Aon employees involved with the organization, the more likely Aon will consider a request for support. The status and tenure of the advocates are factors that are considerations as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Karin Copeland

Karin Copeland

Fostering and managing innovation is a continuous challenge for businesses. To meet this challenge it is critical to build a workplace culture that supports failure as an inevitability on the path to innovation. Artists and designers are taught that their best work is a result of these failures and progress can be made by revisiting old ideas from a fresh perspective.

From the iterative methodologies found in industrial and software design to the formalized critiques of a fine arts classroom, the concept of Design Thinking is a learned skill in fields that we traditionally define as creative. This way of thought is crucial to developing an innovative business sector that is both agile and collaborative.

Design Thinking has been around for decades but it has made a resurgence in recent years as swiftly changing technologies and a global marketplace force us to adapt the way we do business and adjust our corporate culture.  Business now requires creative talent to generate the innovative solutions and products of tomorrow.

This talent is often multidisciplinary, with the ability to problem-solve a diverse project set while still holding a vision of the big picture. This superstar talent is a rare commodity but, with the adoption of Design Thinking and a push toward a collaborative workplace, a company’s culture can be redesigned in such a way that it can nurture its current staff to become these superstars.  Read the rest of this entry »

STEM to STEAM: Finding a Seat at the ‘Cool Kids’ Table

Posted by Deborah Vaughn On March - 5 - 2013
Deb Vaughn

Deb Vaughn

STEM is like the most popular kid in school these days. Everyone wants to sit at the same lunch table and share Doritos.

Fortunately for the arts community, we have a powerful resource as the national conversation transforms from STEM to STEAM: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) announced the formation of a Congressional STEAM Caucus last month.

The group had a successful kick-off on February 14. Rhode Island School of Design President John Maeda, an advisor to the Caucus, regularly speaks about the inextricable connection between art and science and Bonamici echoed the sentiment at Oregon’s 2012 Arts Summit.

While our representatives in Washington, DC, are hard at work advising on federal policy, our state is also taking steps to assure we’ve got “STEAM heat” (thank you, Bob Fosse!).

In Governor John Kitzhaber’s proposed 2013–2015 budget, which is now being considered by the legislature, there is a proposal for an initiative called “Connecting to the World of Work.”

Included in that proposal is funding to support partnerships between schools, arts organizations and businesses to increase opportunities for students in grades 6–12 to connect with creative industries. There is conversation about including internships, mentorship programs, industry residencies in schools, and student residencies at industry firms.  Read the rest of this entry »

Making the Arts in Rural Oregon Their Business (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Kathleen Chaves On February - 28 - 2013
Kathleen Chaves

Kathleen Chaves

In 2002, jobs were scarce in rural, isolated Baker City, OR, population 10,000. My husband and I decided to dedicate ourselves to growing our 20-year-old company, Chaves Consulting, Inc. from providing two jobs to creating 100 with a complete package of benefits.

At about the same time, another vision was being created by the Crossroads Arts board to have someone raise the almost two million dollars it would take to renovate Baker City’s historic 1909 Carnegie Library building to become their new home after spending much of its history without a permanent one. The Crossroads board asked if I would be the grant writer to raise the funding and manage the renovation project.

My husband, Richard, and my motivation for leading the project was based on the vision of how the arts could grow and make a huge difference in the lives of Baker’s children and families, as it had altered mine. I strongly believed that this project would provide children an avenue to express themselves and uplift them as it had done for me during my teenage years when I felt very disconnected and lost.

We believed that the arts could give children a voice who otherwise felt lonely and isolated. The arts saved my life and made me feel a part of something. I believed it could do the same in Baker. In addition, the renovated Carnegie building would give hundreds of adult Eastern Oregon artists an incredible space to share their gift. Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Whitacre

Bruce Whitacre

“We have a euphoria inhibitor in Stage 2 trials,” explained the drug company executive to the bio-tech venture capitalist.

I paused. I told him that we in theatre seek euphoria wherever we can find it. He laughed and explained that euphoria inhibitors help keep strong pain medication from becoming addictive. The venture capitalist leaned in to hear more and I went to the buffet for another sandwich.

I was attending the Long Wharf Theatre’s 2013 Global Health and the Arts symposium, “Obesity and its Public Health Consequences.”

Driven by the combination of Yale Medical School and other Yale University researchers, the proximity to the Boston research corridor, the Tri-state pharmaceutical industry, and the catalytic qualities of Long Wharf trustee David Scheer, the conference capitalizes on Long Wharf’s unique location in New Haven, CT.

The idea came from David’s desire to do more for Long Wharf Theatre. It played to his strengths, and as I’ll explain later, those of Long Wharf as well.

In past years, the conference has focused on cancer, addiction, mental health, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a serious medical conference that is convened in and uses theatre to enliven and engage researchers and businesspeople alike.  Read the rest of this entry »

A dramatic impression greets Conference Board visitors at reception with the bold and expressive colors of Yuko Ueda’s “The Trees #14.”

A dramatic impression greets Conference Board visitors at reception with the bold and expressive colors of Yuko Ueda’s “The Trees #14.”

When I was asked—strike that—begged, to sit on our in-house committee to renovate our offices, it was explained that someone was needed to bring my department’s voice to the designing table. And knowing to play to my vanity, I was told, “Your artistic eye is sorely needed.” Yet even so, I reluctantly agreed. “Besides,” it was confidentially promised, “the weekly meetings would only last for about six months.” That was 19 months ago…

Once on the committee, I was assigned to the subcommittee affectionately called, “Look & Feel.”  Then, while on this subcommittee, I was volunteered to a yet smaller sub-subcommittee called simply, “Artwork.” Including myself, this sub-subcommittee numbered one! So I in turn volunteered two others to help me out.

We were asked to, “Put some art on the walls…” The request was later improved upon: “Some original art work…Not too expensive.”

I knew enough to ask the obvious question, “What’s the budget?” The answer: “Present us with some figures.” Okay, I could do that.

In fact, I was surprised with how many artists and gallery owners I knew. Pieces started in the low hundreds and went into the six figures. I felt pleased my work was completed so early and speedily. Little would I realize that when I turned these figures over to the larger committee, you would hear crickets in the room. I was thanked for my efforts and invited to try again.  Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Partnerships: Strategies for Collaboration (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Shannon Litzenberger On February - 7 - 2013
Shannon Litzenberger

Shannon Litzenberger

A new generation of arts development calls for new conversations about how to engage stakeholders and cultivate resources to support artistic activity. It’s clear that as public investment dwindles relative to industry growth, the future success of arts enterprises will include seeking new creative partners in the private sector by building relationships based on shared values and mutual goals.

Exploring national and international models of partnership, collaboration, and investment across the arts and business sectors formed the basis of a day-long symposium held late last year in Toronto.

Creative Partnerships: Connecting Business and the Arts brought together 100 leaders from across the arts, business, and public sectors to consider how we can build new capacities within our respective industries through creative collaboration. Hosted jointly by the Metcalf Foundation, Business for the Arts, the ASO Learning Network, the Manulife Centre, and the Canada Council for the Arts, Creative Partnership brought into focus a host of examples and opportunities aimed at increasing private sector engagement in the arts.

One of the day’s early highlights was a report on the performance of Canada’s new and quickly expanding program artsVest™. A flagship initiative at Business for the Arts, artsVest aims to help broker new relationships between arts organizations and business sponsors. With invested funds from the federal government, as well as participating provincial and city partners, the national initiative provides matching grants, free sponsorship training workshops, as well as community building and networking events that catalyze cross-sector partnerships. Read the rest of this entry »

What Innovators Can Learn from Artists (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Tim Leberecht On January - 31 - 2013
Tim Leberecht

Tim Leberecht

Andy Warhol knew it all along: “Good business is the best art.” And lately, a number of business thinkers and leaders have begun to embrace the arts, not as an escapist notion, a parallel world after office hours, or a creative asset, but as an integral part of the human enterprise that ought to be woven into the fabric of every business—from the management team to operations to customer service.

John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and author of the book Redesigning Leadership, predicts that artists will emerge as the new business leaders and cites RISD graduates Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, co-founders of Airbnb, as prominent examples. The author William Deresiewicz heralds reading as the most important task of any leader. John Coleman makes a compelling case for the role of poetry in business. Intel named pop musician will.i.am as director of creative innovation. And the World Economic Forum has been inviting arts and cultural leaders to its events for several years and this year added the ‘Role of the Arts’ to its Network of Global Agenda Councils.

Indeed, the “art” of business becomes ever more important as the “science” gets ever more ubiquitous. Against the backdrop of our hyper-connected economies and as Big Data and sophisticated analytical tools allow us to maximize process efficiencies and standardize best innovation practices worldwide, intuition and creativity remain as the only differentiating factors that enable truly game-changing innovations. Like any “soft asset,” they cannot be exploited, only explored. And like artists, innovators must develop a mindset and cultivate creative habits in order to see the world afresh and create something new.

How do artists think and behave? Here are twelve traits any individual aspires to make his or her mark on the world would do well to emulate:  Read the rest of this entry »

John Bryan

John Bryan

Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class is now 11 years old, and the notion that left-brained corporate types can benefit from right-brained creative types is acknowledged as gospel.

Although Florida’s work has resulted in blue-chip value for “creative thinkers,” there is no empirical evidence to show whether business executives claim any workplace value for their own personal artistic pursuits.

Indeed, do the personal artistic pursuits of business workers add value to the corporate workplace? The exploration of this question is one line of research that has been spawned by a recent gathering in Virginia.

On November 27 in Richmond President and CEO of The Conference Board Jonathan Spector and Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch convened 16 corporate executives and 16 artists for an eight-hour “Creative Conversation”—a day of envisioning a new transaction model between business and arts. The forever-held model is straightforward: businesses give money to the arts so that the arts can enrich their communities.

Richmond’s event explored the possibility of an opposite transaction model. Can corporations benefit by reaching out to and engaging practicing artists? Participants included executives from Fortune 500 companies such as Altria, Dominion, and MeadWestvaco; leaders from service organizations such as J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College and Leadership Metro Richmond; and CEOs from specialty companies such as The Martin Agency and Richmond Times-Dispatch. Read the rest of this entry »

Allison Skeete

Throughout my life there have been people I admired and looked up to. I realized the value and impact of having mentors in my life when I spent a summer working for a charitable group as a camp counselor for challenged teens. I learned as much from them as they did me and what I felt and shared that summer left me with a lasting impression.

From that point forward, I decided that I’d have to support and or mentor someone in the future. It has now been more than 20 years that I’ve been a mentor in some way in many programs to young women and men within the communities where I’ve worked, played, and lived. Seven years ago, when I was asked to be a mentor in the multicultural summer program hosted by the Arts & Business Council of NY, I didn’t hesitate to respond ‘yes!’

I believe as a mentor I have an important role in assisting the mentee to learn how to manage priorities and perspectives. I firmly believe everyone has natural gift they can share with others. To share knowledge, wisdom, and understanding is a gift. Helping others to achieve their goals and dreams can impact not only the lives of those who are being mentored, but the lives of everyone they touch. For me, helping others reach their potential is fulfilling in ways I can’t begin to explain.

The Multicultural Arts Management Internship program (sponsored by my employer conEdison) promotes diversity in administrative staffing, introducing undergraduates to career options with a business focus in the arts. Each year, a select group of students (the program places emphasis on students of African-American, Asian-American, and Latino backgrounds), who are matched with New York City arts organizations to complete summer-long, project-based internships in a variety of disciplines. Read the rest of this entry »

Presenting Our Vans Custom Culture Grant Winning Schools

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On January - 15 - 2013

Learning in the arts enables every individual to develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to succeed in today’s ever-changing world. Vans and its national charity partner Americans for the Arts envision a country where every child has access to—and takes part in–high quality learning experiences in the arts, both in school and in the community.

Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce, as a component of its ongoing partnership with Vans, the winners of the inaugural year of the Vans Custom Culture Grant Program. This new grant program seeks to increase both visibility for and resources available to schools across the country who are engaged in working to sustain the arts as a vital part of education.

The grant program is supported by funds from Vans Custom Culture—an art competition whose winners design a shoe that is produced and sold by Vans. (Make sure your school registers to enter the shoe design competition to win up to $50,000 for its art education program!)

Vans Custom Culture Grants are available to public high schools (grades 9-12) that have allowed arts education to thrive in their school community. The grants are intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts as an integral component of an excellent education, and to support activities that are consistent with local and national learning standards for arts education. Read the rest of this entry »

We Aren’t Preparing Young People for Careers at Disney or Apple

Posted by Lisa Phillips On January - 14 - 2013

Lisa Phillips with Steve Wozniak

There seems to be a major disconnect between how creativity is valued in society and the career advice we give our children. We all know that the arts are a valuable means of expression, a means to share stories across cultures and an uplifting and moving source of entertainment.

We revere our cultural icons, whether they are movie stars, literary authors or artists, but we seem to limit the possibility of careers in the arts to only a talented few.

How many of us arts professionals have heard from family and friends, “When are you going to get a real job?”

So, why do we put our cultural icons on a pedestal but undervalue arts education? I think one of the reasons is that as a society we are preoccupied with the idea that the arts are reserved only for those with talent. However, in the reality of today’s job market, we need to change this idea.

There is a significant gap between what children are told is important for their future career success and what business leaders actually want from the emerging workforce. Creative individuals are actually in demand. Not just for arts careers, but for careers in business as well.

For example, Disney and Apple are two of the most successful companies of our time, largely because of the creativity, innovation, and the leadership they have demonstrated in their respective industries.

In an era when businesses are constantly struggling to find creative ways to stay at the top of their market, arts education can be a powerful tool to nurture the creative abilities of our young people, ensuring they are ready for the skills that are in demand. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan Soroko

Probably the best part of producing BizSmART for Arlington (Virginia)’s supported arts organizations was the pleasant surprise of unintended outcomes. Nothing salacious (sorry!), no misbehaving, but something that was an indirect benefit of having thought provoking speakers, interactive sessions, and opportunities to step outside daily challenges all in the same space at the same time.

As simple as it sounds, there was little way to plan, direct, or script a day that helped build our arts community.

On November 13, 2012, Arlington’s first BizSmART conference at Artisphere surpassed ‘symposium’ in both content and connectivity and drew on smart growth strategies for the arts. With the Arlington Commission for the Arts sponsorship of BizSmART, which began as a suggestion to create a symposium for arts organizations and Arlington Cultural Affairs’ recent move to Arlington Economic Development, a new direction in meeting the challenges facing arts organizations took root. The arts in our area may be extensive, but as public and private funding dwindle, organizations still struggle.

Arlington is no stranger to breaking new ground on many fronts and the arts are no exception. In 1996, Arlington Cultural Affairs was the winner of the Ford Foundation and Harvard University’s Innovations In American Government Award, the first time the award was given to an arts program in a local government. Leveraging resources, materials and facilities of the county government and applying them to the arts made way for an incubator program that was soon to be replicated throughout the country. 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.