Business Spotlight: Arts Business Transforms Spaces and Communities
Ms. Toni Sikes
The following is part of our Business Spotlight series that highlights the work of some of our key business partners. Here, we interview Toni Sikes, Co-Founder and CEO of CODAworx. Keep reading to learn about this business leader and her connection to the arts!
Do you have a background in the arts? Are you currently a practitioner of the arts?
I majored in math but minored in music. My entire career has been starting and growing companies in the art industry, helping artists to connect with their best markets.
What was your most recent arts experience?
Last night at my local community theater company. I spend a good deal of my free time attending some type of arts event!
What was your most meaningful arts experience?
It is hard to say, as I have had a lifetime of meaningful arts experiences! Recently, I heard Emanuel Ax play an evening of Beethoven piano concertos. It was pure bliss!
How do you believe the arts are transformational—personally, professionally, and/or in your community?
The arts can transform spaces (through public art), and they can transform lives. My company, CODAworx, has built a network of artists who create large-scaled artworks that are designed for the built environment in which we live and work. We have seen firsthand how these kinds of artworks can transform spaces. An example is a lightwork installation in a highway underpass. Before art, the underpass was crime-ridden, dark, and a bit scary. With exciting artwork, the underpass becomes a place where people want to be, to have parties, and even get married!
Artists inspire us on a daily basis—not just with the amazing works of art they create, but the way they think and interact with the world. They push the boundaries of possibilities. We all need a daily dose of inspiration!
We also sponsor Creative Arts Day with Arts Wisconsin (the state-wide nonprofit advocacy group). And we work with the University of Wisconsin Arts Department to hire several art students as interns every semester. This is a great shot of young and vibrant art talent injected into the company several times a year.
How have you or your company integrated the arts into your business to engage, inspire, or train your employees?
Everyone at CODAworx connects with artists on a regular basis (including our Controller!), and it is one of the great perks of our jobs. Artists inspire us on a daily basis—not just with the amazing works of art they create, but the way they think and interact with the world. They push the boundaries of possibilities. We all need a daily dose of inspiration!
How have you or your company leveraged the arts to set your business apart?
Currently, CODAworx has a big focus on art + technology, and the topic is taking us on a whole new adventure! We have seen the way technology has become a key tool in the toolbox for artists—especially allowing them to create work that is interactive and multi-disciplinary (incorporating sound and light, for instance). As a result, a new paradigm for art is emerging, and it is exciting to be in the middle of this transition.
CODAworx recently was invited to serve on a panel at a technology conference, discussing how we utilize technology to service our industry, and I asked our COO to speak on our behalf. He is a buttoned-up project manager with an IT background, but he did us proud by talking about the work we do. His presentation was a stellar example of the left brain meeting the right brain.
Where do you see the arts playing a role in the future—personally, professionally, and/or in your community?
I have worked in the arts world for my entire career, and it is gratifying to see the arts and artists being valued for what they can contribute to the world—not just for the work they create, but their ideas and values. I credit Americans for the Arts for leading the way in this change in attitude. Thank you!