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 »

Artist Charlavail designed this amazing pair of Vans.

As a Vans Custom Culture national charity partner in 2013, Americans for the Arts is proud to work closely with Vans to reinforce the importance of arts education in schools across the country.

With the launch of the Vans Custom Culture art competition on January 2, budding artists and designers are racing to have their teachers fill registration slots open to the first 1,500 U.S.-based public or private high schools (more than 650 have already entered!).

The program, in its fourth iteration, pushes students to compete and create a work of art from a blank pair of Vans shoes. Each blank shoe must be designed by using the following themes: Art, Music, Action Sports, and Local Flavor.

Students will have until April 5 to complete the shoes and submit their images online. The Custom Culture competition will generate $50,000 for the winning school’s art program at the final judging in New York this summer while simultaneously drawing attention to the importance of art as an integral part of a well-rounded education.

Artists, fashion designers, athletes, and local news anchors are all being tapped to create their own custom shoes as Ambassadors of the program. Eager to provide inspiration wherever possible, Ambassadors are tweeting images (#VansCustomCulture) of their own custom designs. Some of our favorites can be found below and also on the Vans Custom Culture siteRead the rest of this entry »

Pam Rubert

When Alexander Gottman’s co-workers peer into his cubicle, they don’t see family or vacation photos. They see original art.

Gottman works in the information technology department of Guaranty Bank, accessing potential risk for electronic bank transfers for business clients and monitoring the safety of their accounts.

Locally owned Guaranty Bank is committed to encouraging employee personal development and community involvement. The bank sponsored a Creamery Arts Center exhibition in June, and Guaranty Bank Marketing Director Carlye Wannenmacher suggested Gottman enter the show.

It’s not uncommon for Springfield businesses such as Guaranty Bank to employ working artists. Our community offers many outlets for creative expression, if not as many opportunities to make a full-time living in the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy New Year from Americans for the Arts

Posted by admin On January - 3 - 2013

As your first week of 2013 gets closer to an end, Americans for the Arts wants to be sure to wish you a Happy New Year! Cue music, lights, photos!

Laura Bruney

The 2012 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, which ended on December 9, featured the perfect marriage of arts and business. Hundreds of high-end companies hosted private parties; pop up exhibitions and roving ads on cars, carts, and even people. Millions of dollars in art sales, restaurant meals, hotel rooms, and luxury car rentals exchanged hands.

This year’s massive six-day extravaganza featured thousands of the world’s top galleries showcasing art work worth more than $2.5 billion. The growing economy and booming arts market translated into sales for the week that exceeded $500 million.

The Basel spinoffs included 22 satellite fairs that converted Miami into a rambling art lovers paradise. From South Beach to Wynwood, from North Miami to Coral Gables, from Pinecrest to South Dade—there were museums, galleries, and unique spaces featuring thousands of works of art, special events, and cultural happenings.

Corporate marketing executives took notice. The way brands connect with consumers takes many forms. Partnering with an event like Art Basel and the related activities provides the opportunity for direct contact with new customers.

Hundreds of companies were looking to capture the attention of the 500,000+ arts aficionados that descended on Miami and Miami Beach for the week. Brand managers rented museums, galleries, warehouses, gardens, and clubs to showcase their products in an artsy atmosphere. Read the rest of this entry »

Has Endowment Become a Dirty Word?

Posted by Leah Hamilton On December - 13 - 2012

Leah Hamilton

Endowment. Much like the word “elite” or “patronize,” the term “endowment” seems to have acquired a negative connotation.

The traditional endowment model was sold as a core strategy of sustainability for an organization; the interest provided reliable budgetary support, and the principle was the legacy of dedicated arts patrons. But organizations began to use the fund’s annual draw in place of fundraising.

Then, when times got tough, the principle became a financial lifeline. When this happened, a new trend emerged; funders began to redirect their initiatives towards innovation and creative placemaking instead of endowment.

But, as with most trends, there are exceptions to the rule.

Springfield, MO is nationally recognized as a collaborative community, as highlighted recently by Mayor Robert Stephens on the Huffington Post. With consistent job growth in the city as well as lower than average unemployment rates, Springfield’s collaborative nature has helped the community weather the recession.

In the arts community, more than 30 local groups share The Creamery Arts Center. The 35,000-square-foot building, once home to the Springfield Creamery Co. and later the first distribution center for O’Reilly Automotive, includes administrative offices, as well as an exhibition hall, board room, arts library, arts classroom, film editing bay, a shared costume shop, and set design/fabrication studio. Read the rest of this entry »

Michelle Alexander (photo by Nicholas Wray)

On June 1, the Arts & Business Council (ABC) of Sacramento launched Flywheel, the region’s first creative economy incubator.

For 25 years, ABC of Sacramento has run the Business Volunteers for the Arts program, facilitating over $1 million in pro bono services to artists and arts organizations. Sacramento’s arts scene has grown exponentially over that time, but the region still lacks a pathway to give emerging artists the tools, community, and exposure to establish themselves as sustainable businesses.

By curating a diverse group of the region’s top emerging artists, creative start-ups and arts organizations, ABC has been able to develop a pathway to sustainability for local talent, while also establishing our region as a hub for the arts!

Our first group of artists represents a cross-section of the capital region’s creative scene:

Bold Partnership for Dallas Arts Orgs (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Michael Granberry On November - 29 - 2012

Dallas-based AT&T is putting its business acumen to work for five financially challenged arts organizations. The corporation will provide free oversight to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Opera, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas Theater Center, and Dallas Summer Musicals.

The goal of the partnership is to stanch the financial bleeding that has plagued the organizations since the 2008 recession.

“The old economic business models are not working,” DSO chairman Blaine Nelson said. “Revenues are falling far short of costs and expenses.”

Financial woes have besieged the DSO, Dallas Opera, and Dallas Summer Musicals, which recently asked the city for money.

The partnership is designed to help the companies streamline operations and share numerous endeavors, while preserving their independence. It’s also aimed at quelling the fierce competition that has existed at times between the performing arts center and Dallas Summer Musicals, both of which present Broadway shows.

Nelson says that “donor heroics” are no longer a winning strategy. Donors are, he said, increasingly younger givers who have tired of “a bottomless pit” and the absence of a “sustainable business model.” They prefer to be seen, he said, as investors, not donors.

Nelson helped conceive the new model, called the Performing Arts Collaboration, which was first broached six months ago. Read the rest of this entry »

I won’t bury the lead: Josh Groban was the recipient of the Bell Family Foundation Young Artist Award at our 2012 National Arts Awards and he was tickled pink at the honor. Here’s the video profile that was shown before he received the award:

Beyond Groban, the star-studded night this past October also honored Broadway leading man Brian Stokes Mitchell, renowned painter James Rosenquist, arts education leader Lin Arison, Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, and AXA Art Insurance Corporation.

Support from artists, philanthropists, and corporations alike is what makes the annual National Arts Awards so special—leaders from all sectors come together to honor the individuals and companies whose dedication to the promotion of arts and culture has had a profound impact on American life. This year more than 400 people were in attendance at Cipriani in New York City.

Event Chair Maria Bell has said that this varied group of artists and leaders has left an indelible mark “on the cultural fabric of our nation.” Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Thanksgiving from Americans for the Arts!

Posted by Tim Mikulski On November - 21 - 2012

Our offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday so our dedicated staff can enjoy the holiday. We’ll be back to work on Monday! Have a safe and happy holiday!

In Pro Bono We Trust (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Tim McClimon On November - 15 - 2012

Tim McClimon

The week before Hurricane Sandy turned the East Coast upside down, American Express and other companies joined the Taproot Foundation in celebrating Pro Bono Week.

We participated by hosting a Scope-a-thon, an effort to engage our employees in helping to scope projects from nonprofits in order to prepare them to more fully benefit from pro bono consulting in the future.

We had 35 American Express employees in our New York office assist 11 nonprofits in a three-hour marathon Scope-a-thon. The nonprofits included:

  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • City Parks Foundation
  • Creative Alternatives of New York
  • GallopNYC
  • God’s Love We Deliver
  • Historic House Trust
  • Japan Society
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC
  • New York Blood Center
  • Reel Works Teen Filmmaking
  • Studio Museum in Harlem

The Taproot Foundation did a terrific job of structuring the conversation around these four questions:

1. First, what hurts?
2. Next, what are some ways to fix it?
3. So, what’s the specific prescription?
4. And finally, what’s the treatment plan?

The response from both employees and nonprofits was extremely positive. 100 percent of employees said that they would participate again and refer the program to a colleague. One employee went so far as to say that it was her “best day” at American Express. Read the rest of this entry »