Too often, the realms of art and business are separated from one another—dismissed as being two entirely different worlds that don’t belong on the same plane. There are those, however, who see the importance of building bridges between these two realms, and see how these bridges can better the two sides, if they are partnered together in the right way.
Roche Tissue Diagnostics (known locally as Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.) in Oro Valley, AZ is one such company that seeks to join the worlds of art and business. Roche Tissue Diagnostics is a pioneer in healthcare which has been committed to improving lives since the company was founded in 1896 in Basel, Switzerland. Today, Roche creates innovative medicines and diagnostic tests that help millions of patients globally. As a company that develops new technologies and appliances for the field of medicine, it is highly important that there be a culture of innovation and creativity in the workplace. According to Dr. Thomas Grogan, founder of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., the innovation and creativity of the 800+ employees hinges on something that he refers to as “deep original thought.” This is, by his definition, “imagining a product before people even know they need it, and building something that has never been built before.” Likening this thought process to an artist who approaches a blank canvas, Dr. Grogan’s creativity can be felt throughout the company’s growth and makeable innovations.
“They have in their DNA, from having worked here, this creative/intuitive sense,” says Dr. Grogan about his employees, “and the visual art is a product of their own deep original thought.” He mentions this because of the hallways at the Oro Valley Roche offices—home to the largest rotating community gallery in the region, featuring hundreds of original artworks from emerging and established artists and employees. The gallery’s size and reach has been empowered through a community partnership with the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance’s Business Committee for the Arts program integration, helping bring art to the workplace.
Artists may see a sunset and, in that moment, be moved by this concept of a deep original thought. His/her work will, in turn, inspire another artist to put to canvas his/her own deep original thoughts, and on and on this process goes; hence the never-ending waves of art. In a work environment such as Ventana Medical Systems, creativity and innovation needs to be continuously fostered to keep the business alive.
Ideas need to be not only generated but made a reality. The flow of ideas in a company should not be like molasses, but like a river—bringing fresh and reliable products to businesses. Dr. Grogan believes that this creativity and innovation can happen, so much so that the company’s office has become a work of art. The work hung on the walls (all done by artists in the Tucson community) not only inspires the employees there to keep their minds tuned in to inventive ideas, but also speaks to the clients and leadership travelling to the Oro Valley headquarters.
For the clients who walk through the front door, the art found within testifies without words about the cultural location of the company and the minds of the people in the company who are providing the product they need. The people within this art-filled community are sophisticated, intelligent, present-minded, yet simultaneously visionary. Above the simple acknowledgement of Tucson’s cultural identity, they celebrate the community in which they are a part. “My role as an artist helps my role as an employee,” says Corporate Communications Manager Darlene Buhrow. “I need to maintain that balance in order to keep doing well at my work.”
It is important to realize, however, that businesses thrive when art is not only involved, but directly tied into productivity, as it is with Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. Cande Grogan, founder of the Art Program at Ventana Medical, says that “art is not a luxury; it is a fully essential element to our lives.” Where art is being generated, ideas are being generated; and when ideas are being generated, new products have the much greater probability of being realized. With the visual arts as a stimulant and engine, Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. is geared to be a proficient/efficient creator and innovator in the medical field.
Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance is a member of Americans for the Arts.