Frequently Asked Questions - Private Sector Network

The Private Sector Network of Americans for the Arts is comprised of organizations that work to foster arts partnerships with businesses and corporations, both in their communities and nationally. Arts groups whose mission it is to form arts and business partnerships are included in the network, as well as any organization building or growing relationships in the private sector. The network includes Arts & Business Councils, Business Committees for the Arts, United Arts Funds, Local Arts Agencies, and other organizations around the country that work independently with the assistance of Americans for the Arts to build private sector support for the arts in their local communities.

All you need to do to join the Private Sector Network is be an organizational member of Americans for the Arts and have a vested interest in forming arts and business partnerships in your community. Any group in the country, whether or not working with business is a large part of your mission or strategy, is encouraged to join the network to share and learn knowledge with your peers, as well as take advantage of our many resources on building, sustaining, or improving relationships with the business community. As a member of Americans for the Arts and the Private Sector Network, you’ll have access to webinars, conference calls, listserv correspondence, tool-kits, and more to assist you in starting or strengthening partnerships with the business community.

Americans for the Arts provides resources to the network of A&BCs and BCAs around the country, which operates independently but works with Americans for the Arts to coordinate local and national private sector goals. While BCAs and A&BCs are very similar and often run the same programs, historically BCAs work directly with the business community to foster partnerships, while A&BCs provide training to arts groups to empower them to form the partnerships with businesses. As time has gone on, the organizations have become increasingly similar, sharing the mission to create stronger partnerships between the arts and business communities and to create more resources for arts organizations.  Learn more about the history and differences of A&BCs and BCAs on our People & Projects page.

Today, BCAs commonly run corporate membership programs that engage the business community in partnership opportunities, including employee engagement programs, joint marketing efforts, and sponsorship partnerships. Most hold annual awards that honor local businesses for outstanding support of the arts.

Most A&BCs run robust professional development program, volunteer matching programs, and board training programs that place business professionals on the boards of local arts groups.

An Arts & Business Council or Business Committee for the Arts requires the involvement of visible and respected business leaders who are committed to bringing business and the arts closer together.  They assist with the establishment of the organization and act in an ongoing capacity as board members, funders, and volunteers. Before starting an organization, you must first analyze who these people are and if you have the ability to get them involved. For a copy of our feasibility study to help answer more questions, visit the Arts & Business Toolbox.

United Arts Funds (UAFs) are local arts organizations that raise money from local individuals, businesses, and foundations to regrant to local arts institutions and provide support to the cultural community. UAFs seek to raise money to provide ongoing support to arts groups by consolidating cultural fundraising efforts in one organization, and use their knowledge of the cultural community to disperse the funds accordingly.

Conducting a feasibility study is critical. You will need to identify the business leaders and drivers in your community; inventory the business community in terms of arts giving (i.e., how many headquarters or branches are there, do any participate in workplace giving campaigns). Inventory the arts community in all its diversity and determine if the community is interested in a combined fundraising effort. If you are interested in starting a United Arts Fund, please send us an e-mail at privatesector@artsusa.org to access our United Arts Fund Feasibility Study.

Know of a successful arts and business partnership? One that benefits both the business and the community? Send us your story so we can promote it as a success story on the pARTnership Movement website. You can also nominate the business you’ve partnered with for The BCA 10: Best Business Partnering with the Arts in America, an annual gala that honors 10 businesses in the country for their exemplary support of the arts.