Giving Trends in Business Contributions to the Arts

Earlier this fall, Americans for the Arts and The Conference Board released the Business Contributions to the Arts: 2018 Edition report. The results provide both an insight into current corporate giving trends as related to the arts and an opportune moment to look back on broad trends. While the survey methodology has changed numerous times over the years, making exact comparisons challenging, we can examine the overall progression of certain aspects of arts support among companies, including what size businesses are consistent arts supporters, what reasons companies give for supporting the arts, and how giving behavior changes (or not) as the national economy fluctuates.

Celebrate National Shop Local Artists Week 2018

Be part of the nationwide celebration December 2-8, 2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

From December 2 to 8, 2018, the initiative encourages the creative field to join together in communities across the country to promote the sales of the work of local artists, and to promote to all consumers that art—including tickets to events and organization memberships—makes great holiday gifts.

40 Years Young: The Evolving Practice of Cultural Planning

Research released this week by Americans for the Arts sheds light on the aspirations, accomplishments, shortcomings, and methods used in cultural planning over the past decade and compares findings with Craig Dreeszen’s similar—although more extensive—study from 1994. The data reveal that expectations of cultural planning have increased significantly over these 20-plus years, and that the greatest change is in the emphasis on serving community interests rather than a focus on the arts and cultural sector’s own needs. While community-wide cultural planning helps formulate aspirations and action strategies, it doesn’t ensure results. Where cultural plans also set their sights, but where outcomes fell short, is in the area of cultural equity—expanding resources for under-represented groups including immigrant populations, removing barriers to participation, and bolstering education and youth development. Fewer than half of cultural plans included specific actions to address diversity, equity, and inclusion—a surprising finding in 2017.

The Transformative Power of Cross-sector Collaboration: A Story of the Lackawanna County ARTS Engage! Task Force

The ARTS Engage! Task Force was created in 2016, inspired by a successful youth arts program and with a mission to “improve the quality of life for Lackawanna County residents through access to and participation in artistic, creative, and cultural experiences.” The power of passionate, committed, and diverse people working together has the ability to transform communities, but meaningful cross-sector collaborations take time. The kind of knowledge trust, enthusiasm, and planning needed for sustainability cannot be achieved in a short time frame. But rather than think of this as daunting, we can see it as a chance to expand our world, meet new people, challenge our cognitive biases, and create innovative and integrative systems of change. There will be stressful days, things won’t always work, and there may even be conflict. But I have found the joy in this work, and the impact far outweighs the difficulties.

Arts, Business, and Capital

According to the Americans for the Arts Creative Industries Report, there are 674,000 businesses involved in the creation or distribution of the arts, and they employ 3.5 million people. This represents 4% percent of all U.S. businesses and 2% percent of all U.S. employees, demonstrating statistically that the arts are a formidable business presence. Collectively, we know the issues our cities and society face are too complex to address in one way. But I firmly believe the creative sector can be a strong partner in developing sustainable development goals such as well-being, economic health, quality education, and sustainable cities and communities. I see this as a team effort, requiring the investment of businesses, investors, AND funders to drive what is already important to them, by expanding their portfolios to embrace programs and services that only the creative sector can deliver.

 

Search Our New and Improved Arts Services Directories

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

You asked, and we listened: Our online Arts Services Directory has expanded to include searchable, topic-driven sub-directories. The new and improved directories will allow you to quickly find all types of arts organizations throughout the United States, as well as narrow your search to specific interest areas.

Recognizing Leadership and Innovation in the Arts Happens Every Day

Each fall, many of us in the arts world look forward to hearing the names of the National Medal of Arts recipients for the year. Awarded annually since 1985, this highly anticipated honor seems to have been put on hold beginning in 2016. Similarly, the National Humanities Medal ended a 26-year-long streak with their slate of 2015 honorees, and October’s National Arts & Humanities Month—which expanded from a week-long celebration proclaimed by President Reagan in 1985, to a month-long celebration of the arts and humanities in 1993—has yet to see a presidential proclamation since October 2016. Americans for decades have appreciated nationally recognized awards and a presidential proclamation every year as a show of support and encouragement to unleash creativity and reach for new heights. This year that hope was no different and I have been asked again and again for my thoughts on what has become of these high-profile awards.

Equipping Artists to be Community Leaders

I joined our new staff member in a meeting last week with a prospective grant applicant. We were discussing his interest and desire to get a new keyboard for his work as a musician. This young man humbly presented himself as he shared his professional and educational background that more than qualified him to apply for the developing artist grant we administer. Our new staff member did an excellent job reviewing the grant guidelines and preparing him for the process, but as the meeting was wrapping up, I saw that something was still missing.

“May I share an observation with you before you go?” I asked. “Sure,” the artist quietly replied.

It’s Time for the Arts to Rally Around Standardized Outcomes

Like many social areas, the arts have struggled to reach consensus on impact measurement metrics. Certainly, considerable progress has been made in terms of measuring economic impact as a result of the arts, led by Americans for the Arts and its Arts and Economic Prosperity series of research reports. But, as Business Contributions to the Arts: 2018 Edition reiterates, most companies are not measuring a standard set of social outcomes when it comes to the arts—and that could be holding the sector back. Our data also show that corporate funding for the arts is in a strong position. That means that now is the time to take on the challenge of being more rigorous in the measurement of arts programs to help ensure sustained contributions over the long term. Companies would benefit from stepping up to the plate.

Arts & Business Partnerships Continue to Strengthen Both Sectors, Research Finds

Last week, we celebrated arts and business partnerships at our annual BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts gala. We heard inspiring stories about why businesses value the arts. BCA Leadership Award winner Chandrika Tandon shared how her passion for music provided passion and engagement at her job. Fifth Third Bank spoke about how the arts helped them heal and respond after a mass shooting at their headquarters. Phillips66 shared how the arts create a strong company culture. These stories align with the data from the just released Business Contributions to the Arts survey, which found, among other positive results, that business support for the arts is on the rise. 

The Art of Gifting: Celebrating our culture with Shop Local Artists Week

In cities and towns around the United States, people frequently are encouraged to “Shop Local” to support the many businesses that are such a critical part of their communities’ identities, with much of that focus targeted in November during “Small Business Week.” As of 2017 in Louisiana, the rally for support has been extended to the first full week of December, which is now an annual, statewide celebration known as Shop Local Artists Week (SLAW). We have a responsibility to ensure that our creative culture can continue to grow and flourish—especially since our state is among the most celebrated cultural destinations in the world. So another key focus is the development of partnerships between businesses and artists. Merchants throughout the parish are encouraged to consider adopting one or more local artists or authors during Shop Local Artists Week, and to consider hosting cultural events featuring those artists, including meet and greets, book signings and musical performances.

Spark a Creative Conversation During National Arts & Humanities Month

Happy National Arts and Humanities Month! Each October, millions of people across the country celebrate the transformative power of the arts in their communities. National Arts and Humanities Month is a “coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America,” with the goals of: FOCUSING on the arts at local, state, and national levels; ENCOURAGING individuals and organizations to participate in the arts; ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and RAISING public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives. During National Arts and Humanities Month, some truly amazing celebrations of arts and culture take place across the country. One of the big initiatives for the month is Creative Conversations, which gather community leaders to “discuss local arts, culture, and creativity to generate partnerships and increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts in America.” 

Americans for the Arts Reports Record Number of Celebrations Held During National Arts in Education Week September 9-15

Monday, September 24, 2018

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Americans for the Arts reported that more than 800 celebrations were held in communities across the nation for the 8th annual National Arts in Education Week, September 9-15 – a significant uptick compared with 428 in 2017. The celebrations ranged from block parties to city hall meetings to online visibility campaigns. 

Americans for the Arts Is Celebrating National Arts in Education Week September 9-15

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

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Americans for the Arts today announced its celebration of National Arts in Education Week. During this week, the field of arts education joins together in communities across the nation to celebrate the transformative power of the arts in education. 

Five Reasons Why Public Art Matters

Public art matters to me because I see it as a platform for civic dialogue and as the most democratic of art forms. When done well, a public artwork engages citizens in conversation that can vary from understanding historical and cultural backgrounds, to driving attachment to place and social cohesion. In a world struggling with new ways to connect, public art can make public spaces more approachable. In June of this year, Americans for the Arts worked in collaboration with the 2018 Public Art Network (PAN) Advisory Council to launch “Why Public Art Matters” to provide the field with a tool to help educate community members, local decision makers, and other stakeholders on the value that public art can bring to cities and towns. The resource document provides talking points, reasons, data, and examples of how public art can positively impact a community in five specific areas.

Creating the Conditions for Arts & Culture to Thrive: How can Arts Service Organizations Help Lay the Groundwork?

A few weeks ago, Genesee County, Michigan voters approved a millage to support their arts and cultural assets. Words can’t express how proud I am of Genesee County voters for investing in one of their greatest assets; however, they can express this: their collective investment has the potential to be a real game changer for Genesee County, the people who live there, and their arts and cultural community. How do I know this? Because that’s what happened in Cleveland following passage of one of the largest local option taxes for arts and culture in the country. Here are a few insights drawn from the work we did to stabilize our arts and culture sector and position it for greater influence in our community. Think of these as tips for fertilizing the soil to ensure arts and culture can thrive and grow in your city.

Pre-Election Activities for Arts Organizations

Recently, I sat down with former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg to talk about what arts organizations should be doing in preparation of the upcoming elections. Here are highlights of our conversation.

Americans for the Arts Announces Annual Business Committee for the Arts Awards to Honor Exceptional Businesses and Leaders

Awardees to Be Honored on October 2 at Gala in New York City

Monday, August 20, 2018

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Americans for the Arts today announced this year’s BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honorees. Presented every year by the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), a division of Americans for the Arts, the BCA 10 awards recognize 10 U.S. companies, a business leader, and an arts and business partnership for their exceptional commitment to the arts. The awards will be presented by Americans for the Arts on October 2, 2018, at a black-tie gala at The Central Park Boathouse in New York City. 

Americans for the Arts Partners with the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking to Develop the 2018 National Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit

Monday, August 13, 2018

Americans for the Arts will join NCCP as a Regional Partner to provide input on content; local insight to the Maryland, District of Columbia and Northern Virginia area; marketing support; and funding connections for the upcoming summit Oct. 5-7 in College Park, Maryland. 

Have Your Heard the Buzz About Creative Conversations?

Creative Conversations were launched in 2004 in response to feedback for a need for dialogue from the Emerging Leaders Network. Since then, they have been used as a catalyst in communities across the nation to unify groups of people engaged in arts and culture by sparking dialogue, spurring advocacy efforts, and creating networking opportunities for participants. Most Creative Conversations take place in October as part of National Arts and Humanities Month; however, now they are popping up more frequently at other times of the year. Interested in learning more about these community engagement events, or hosting one in your area? Read on for information and inspiration to help get you started!

How #my5days at Hallmark is Renewing, Inspiring, and Giving Back

“It was such joy to walk in with a certain set of expectations and walk away accomplishing far more than I even imagined.” This reaction from a designer at Hallmark Cards, Inc. underlines the spirit of a recent initiative that supports the creative culture at the company that has taken a new turn in 2018. Just two years ago, Hallmark created a program that would lead to new ways of thinking, personal inspiration, and growth for more than 800 members of its creative community. Now, it has grown to benefit nonprofit organizations in its local Kansas City community. Hallmark’s #my5days program offers five work days per year for creative employees to renew, explore, learn, and think differently about the world and work around them. 

A Public Art Passion Project Reaches its Halfway Point

Thursday, July 5, 2018

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On February 20, 2017, a 51-year-old man named Thomas Leeper set off to complete a public art-centric passion project: covering every linear mile of Detroit on bike, while also photographing and geo-tagging every piece of public art or graffiti he encountered along the way. Almost a year and a half later, Leeper is about at the halfway point, having biked through 2,200 of the 4,000 linear miles of the Detroit streets.

US Conference of Mayors’ 2018 Arts & Military Resolution

Funding Arts, Health, and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum

Friday, July 20, 2018

The resolution cites the potential of creative arts therapies and artist directed programs to positively impact the healthcare spending concerns, quality of care issues, and healthcare needs of active military and veteran populations.

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