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Arts & Business Council®: Background and History
The Arts & Business Council was founded in 1965 as a program of the New York Board of Trade in New York City. In 1968, arts leaders were first invited to join the board, including Arthur Mitchell, Billy Taylor, and Celeste Holm. In 1973, the Arts & Business Council was formally incorporated as a separate entity and became fully independent of the Board of Trade. Programs during those early years included an annual awards luncheon that has become the Encore Awards, a program with the United States Information Agency to obtain loans of art for use in embassies around the world, a program to strengthen the borough arts councils in New York City, and production of an award-winning film called Hometown about the role of the arts in the lives of New Yorkers.
The Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) program was created in 1975. Initially operated in New York alone, in 1979 BVA expanded into a national program with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Other programs involved working with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide management assistance to arts groups, mounting one of the first conferences on arts accessibility for people with disabilities, and creating the Multicultural Arts Management Internship program in 1988, which continues today with support from Con Edison. National programs expanded in 1997 with the launch of the American Express National Arts Marketing Project, and again in 2000 with the creation of the MetLife Foundation National Arts Forum Series.
In February 2005, Americans for the Arts and Arts & Business Council Inc. merged their operations, creating the largest-ever service group for the arts in America. The merging of Arts & Business Council Inc. with Americans for the Arts allows the organization to increase its efforts to secure increased funding for the arts from the private sector.