Building a Culture of Creativity

The author, a Global Business Director at Thomson Reuters (TR) and Chair of the Board of the Arts & Business Council of New York (ABC/NY), worked with ABC/NY’s arts-based employee engagement platform and the Thomson Reuters Project Empire employee resource group to launch Thomson Reuters Arts & Culture (TRAC)–a program geared towards building an outlet for employee creativity. Here, she talks about corporate and personal benefits of the arts, as well as her vision for what TRAC could become.

The Starving Artist Syndrome & How to Cure It

Working in both arts and marketing/business, I've noticed a disconnect between the desire for artists to become successful and earn a living with their art and how they think about their craft as a business.

Childhood Lesson: Color Outside the Lines—How being a child artist helped me become a better business leader

I’ve been an artist since my earliest childhood memories, falling in love with crayons, paint, paper, pastels, pencils—anything I could get my hands on. I would create with reckless abandon. Slowly, as I got older, I began to learn how to become a better artist. I learned how to control the medium, hone the skills and techniques needed to make my art look like it was supposed to, how to follow the rules. Although important, I fell into the trap of focusing too much on the technique and final product rather than the process of creativity. I was not exploring the potential for creative discovery by breaking the rules! Here are my top 5 reasons how coloring outside the lines has helped me in business today.

STEM to STEAM

Business needs a creative workforce to compete in the global economy. But our schools are locked into 20th century priorities. We are testing mastery of content when the Internet delivers content in 0.7 seconds. If the only public measure of a school’s progress is standardized testing, then schools have every incentive to “teach to the test.” With limited resources, teaching the arts is dropped, diminished, or dismissed.

Testing establishes the educational priorities. So, how do you measure creativity? How do you test for the A in STEAM? In Massachusetts, we began discussing the concept of a Creative Challenge Index.

Inspiring Future Scholars—An Intergenerational Model

While the economy seems to be on the upswing, with jobs increasing and unemployment down, one group is still falling behind: children. The rate of children living in poverty has gradually increased since 2008; currently, 20% of children are living in poverty. That’s one in five American children. This means that the citizens most at risk to deficient health, emotional, and cognitive development, and the poorest citizens of our country, are also the youngest.

It’s Time to Engage and Listen to Millennials

It’s not uncommon for our media and popular culture to generalize Millennials as lazy and narcissistic, with an outsized sense of entitlement, interested only in their next opportunity to take a selfie. But this is the largest, best educated and most college debt-ridden generation in Western history. Based on a growing body of research, Millennials have emerged as creative, adventurous, civic minded, tech savvy, socially aware, and consider themselves global citizens, to name a few of their positive characteristics and drivers.

Seven Resources for Highly Effective Arts Professionals

The most important reason to join or renew your membership with Americans for the Arts is because we can help connect you to our entire member network—more than 6,000 people who work for themselves or for our nearly 1,500 member organizations, covering the entire spectrum of Americans with an interest in advancing the arts. That’s not all we do, though. Here are seven benefits we offer our members that make us your best bet.

The Arts Don’t Just Heal, They Also Unify and Inspire Action

I have been playing a lot of piano lately—my antidote for when I am feeling low, or my energy source for when I am working through challenges. This election season has brought to light challenges in our country, divides that I have always believed the arts can bridge. And so I find myself sitting at the keyboard and playing tunes by artists I admire like Bob Dylan, or trying out some dark Leonard Cohen pieces on guitar, or writing some of my own poetry in order to help me get from one state of mind to another. It also makes me imagine how to better convey the power of the arts during these difficult times as part of the solution for our country, much like my own art does for me.

Why Does Your Business Value the Arts?

In their acceptance speeches at the 2016 BCA 10 Awards, twelve industry leaders spoke about what being honored at the 2016 BCA 10 means to them and why they encourage and seek out opportunities to bring the arts into their worlds.

"We believe that everyone in this room is art. And when art and the folks in this room come together, we spark innovation; we inspire youth. We celebrate and heal communities. We stimulate economies. We sustain this great nation."

The Art of Healing

There's no doubt that these last several months have left many of us with a sense of deep divide—both across the nation and within our local communities. There are many remedies for that and most of them have nothing to do with politics (or presidents). I need to be clear that my writing here is not meant to minimize these deep and abiding concerns, nor should these words be received as an overtly political text. Instead, I simply want to drill down into what I believe art—and specifically in this context, arts education—can teach us in these anxious (for some, though not all) times.

One Year Later: Well-Rounded Education Boosted in Implementation of the K-12 Education Law

Leading up to the decade-long work that resulted in enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act last year—the latest authorization of the landmark 1965 Elementary & Secondary Education Act—Americans for the Arts has been covering developments and sharing opportunities to impact reauthorization with arts advocates. On November 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations pertaining to state accountability plans. USED fully adopted our recommendations to make clear that the “arts” are statutorily part of a well-rounded education. 

What women leaders said about the arts during a Creative Conversation held at McMurry University

On October 19, 2016, The Center for Arts Excellence (CAE) at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, hosted a Creative Conversation as a way to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month. The CAE gathered women leaders together from the Grace Museum, Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, United Way, Paramount, Hunt Direct Marketing and McMurry University to discuss the arts in Abilene. More specifically, this group focused their discussion on three distinct areas: arts and community, access to the arts, and possible community arts partnerships.

What Happened to Impact? Navigating Aesthetics & Social Responsibility in the Public Art World

In 2014, a coalition of Wynwood-based organizations invited a frenzy of mural artists to turn the school into an outdoor gallery. Even though the school’s walls looked vibrant, the students were not included in the mural project in any significant way. They were mere spectators to the act of creativity, rather than participants in the creative process. Did the murals fully empower the local students to be capable, responsible and active citizens? In other words, did this good-intentioned mural painting project do enough?

Catching STEAM

If you haven’t heard about the movement to place art within STEM curriculum, or STEAM, you’ve been missing one of the steamiest topics to hit the arts in decades. Essentially a catchy acronym for arts integration targeted at math and science, STEAM has ignited the imaginations of scientists, artists, and educators nationwide. Those on the outside of art and education may wonder: what does a STEAM program look like? Why do it? This blog offers a quick look into one such program steaming forward in the center of the Midwest.

A Tale of Two Industries: Art and Steel, Part 2

Erie, PA has embarked on a renaissance of both art and industry through a project that leverages Erie’s industrially-rooted identity. The Art & Industry project convenes local manufacturers to share trends and career opportunities with students from Erie County Technical School, reinforcing skills students need to excel. The students then designed, fabricated and installed public art that is a lesson in the history of Erie’s people, helping to foster pride in industrial heritage that extends to the products created locally today.

2016 Speaker Series: The Convergence of Arts + Technology

Creativity is the driving force of innovative technologies. The Arts & Business Council of New York dedicated its annual speaker series on November 15, 2016, to exploring the intersection of arts and technology by showcasing companies that have developed and utilized new technologies to tap into the creative economy—transforming how the arts are accessed, produced, and funded.

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A Tale of Two Industries: Art and Steel, Part 1

In May of 1919, National Geographic magazine brandished Erie industry as being among the finest in the U.S., even likening it to that of Chicago. Nearly a century has passed since then, but that does not mean the city has lost its luster of yore. In fact, it would seem that the Gem City has instead embarked on a renaissance of both art and industry. The industrial buildings that were once the epicenter of Erie’s gritty core are undergoing a complete makeover. They have been revitalized and transformed into distinctive microbreweries, upscale urban housing, and, most recently, ideal sites for public art installations.

The Therapeutic Healing of Art Among Veterans

Studies have proven that a designed interior with emphasis on color and art provides a therapeutic experience without stress to the client/patient, and is an ideal setting to gain the best outcome from a visit to the medical office or clinic. Unfortunately, there are those who see art as a luxury or an unnecessary expense, rather than as a therapeutic healing supplement to enhance the greater purpose and to improve both internal and external health. This is one of the reasons I created The Veterans Art Venue, with a mission to exhibit, to provide, and to empower through art, beyond words. Our art evokes a thought, a reflection and a therapeutic embrace.

The Arts are a Strategy to Build Racial Equity

Today we are in the middle of an historic change moment in our country, our cities and our role in the field of the arts. Not since the 1950’s when highways connected and crisscrossed our land have we seen such a massive influx of population in our cities and immigration nationally and internationally. At a time when racial equity and social and environmental justice is being challenged at a national level we affirm our commitment to this work and stand in solidarity with our communities.

The Arts in Austin Need our Commitment and Support at this Critical Time

Austin’s title as the Live Music Capital of the World is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value of the arts here. It is a city where you can explore the work of designers, painters, sculptors, writers, photographers, filmmakers, dancers and musicians, at any time of year, any day of the week, in a variety of venues. Creativity, however expressed, is something to be treasured, but we can take it for granted at the same time we’re worried about losing it. At this critical time, we must commit to the arts and support what we love about Austin.

Our Beta Exploration: Can Creating Art Increase Your Profits?

Organizational culture research points to significant financial benefits for companies that invest in giving. In his article for Harvard Business Review, “In the Company of Givers and Takers,” Adam Grant, Professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, states that “higher rates of giving were predictive of higher unit profitability, productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, along with lower costs and turnover rates. When employees act like givers, they facilitate efficient problem solving and coordination and build cohesive, supportive cultures that appeal to customers, suppliers, and top talent alike.”

So why aren’t more companies investing in creating cultures of givers? One answer is simply that they don’t know how.

Giving Voice Through Art

I am an artist and a military spouse. I create artwork that expresses the fragile strength of life as an Army wife.  I have found that if I can express my challenges and frustrations through my art, the message is less finite or specific. The artwork is not just about me. And it’s not only cathartic to me, but it leaves room for the viewer to bring his or her own experience and voice to the visual conversation as well—in ways that words and writing can not. 

Supporting the Health of Our Veterans with the Arts

As Veterans Day approaches, we wanted to take pause to reflect on the transformative power that access to the arts has on veterans, their families, and the communities they call home. Today and tomorrow, we will be publishing blog posts exploring the impact that access to the arts and creative arts therapies has had on veterans’ recovery and reintegration—and sometimes even redeployment. But for every veteran and service member, as well as their families and loved ones, who has felt and benefitted from the transformative power of the arts, there are some decision-makers who need to be convinced. 

Robert L. Lynch Speaks of Hope, Unity, and Resilience at the End of This Presidential Election

President-Elect Trump has said, “…supporting and advocating for appreciation of the arts is important to an informed and aware society. As President, I would take on that role.” Americans for the Arts hopes for a White House and administration that supports the nonprofit arts community, the local and state arts support infrastructures, as well as independent artists and creative entrepreneurs. We will work hard to advance pro-arts policies and strengthen our efforts to transform communities through the arts. It is more important than ever that we use the arts to help the economy, our communities, families and children, and our nation to seek hope, opportunity, and ultimately to come together.

Inside the Culture Wars Maelstrom of the 1990s

In 1994 while working at Walker Art Center, I presented Ron Athey’s Four Scenes in a Harsh Life. The sold-out performance was well received by an audience of about 100. Post-show discussions with the artist, attended by eighty people, were thoughtful and engaging. Theatre and dance critics had been invited—none chose to attend. Three weeks after the event, a visual art critic from the Minneapolis StarTribune called, wanting to verify someone’s distorted, fantastical version of the performance. She did not want to meet in person, and warned me to look for her lead story on the front page the next morning.

There are More Than 31 Ways to #ShowYourArt

National Arts and Humanities Month was a perfect time to try new ways to engage with you, our members and stakeholders, as well as the general public through our ever-growing social networks including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This year, we upped the stakes of our traditional social media sharing campaign, #ShowYourArt, by creating 31 arts-related themes—one for each day of the month—and challenging you to show us your art on Instagram each day in October. If I’m being completely honest, I was nervous as Oct. 1 approached. I wasn’t sure if anyone would hear our call and respond. Or if they did, would the enthusiasm last?

Celebrating Businesses That Partner with the Arts at the BCA 10 Gala

Now in its 12th year, this black-tie gala presented by Americans for the Arts’ Business Committee for the Arts brought an evening of stories and musical performances that showcased the great gain in the business and arts communities coming together. The companies recognized this year join an illustrious list of honorees who are transforming their businesses and their communities by partnering with the arts to foster innovation, engage employees, and contribute to the health and quality of local life.

National Creative Conversation on Facebook

Creative Conversations started in 2004 as a program through the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Network, bringing together individuals in their communities to talk about the arts & culture and creativity, with a goal to generate partnerships and increase energy and awareness around grassroots efforts. Meeting people where they are is a key focus of local work and of particular interest in fostering space for conversation and gathering. Knowing that organizational budgets and individual resources can be limited or non-existent makes in-person national dialogue difficult. So how could we easily meet people “where they are” on a national scale? 

The Stories of National Arts and Humanities Month

National Arts and Humanities Month is a celebration of the creative work that reaches and translates our stories to communities across the country. The month-long celebration represents a collective collaboration between Americans for the Arts, local arts agencies, artists, and individuals to build an archive of creative actions and give individual and community stories a national platform.

Using Data to Advance the Arts: A Legislator’s Perspective

If it’s true, as some say, money is the mother’s milk of politics, then I would argue that data, anecdotes and experience are the meat and potatoes of good policy. And since policymakers are driven to do the right thing and want to meet the expectations and needs of their constituents, they will choose the will of their voters over those of special interests whenever they have the data, anecdotes, and experience to back up those decisions. This is especially important when advocating for the arts. Americans for the Arts’ Research Department has made policymakers’ jobs a bit easier by placing a variety of tools and services literally at our fingertips.

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