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.

Business Roundtable: Leveraging the Arts to Advance Equity in Business

Friday, October 12, 2018

Business leaders convene to discuss how the arts can align diversity, equity, and inclusion activities to core business strategies and how businesses can creatively develop and retain diverse talent.

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.

Private Sector Shows a Steadfast Commitment to the Arts Built on Long-Term Partnerships, According to New Survey by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts

Manufacturing companies lead total contributions with an average of $4.6 million to arts organizations

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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According to a new survey by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts, nearly a quarter of companies expect to increase their funding for the arts in the next 12 months and only 7 percent expect a decrease. These increases will likely be driven by increased overall philanthropy budgets. The study also found that nearly all companies are engaged with the arts community, complementing the support for the sector delivered through the National Endowment of the Arts.  

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. 

Introducing the Arts + Social Impact Explorer

To improve the perceived public value of the arts, we must connect into the places where people find value. To get members of our community to stand up and say, “We want more,” we have to tell them why “more” matters. If we’re trying to create advocates for arts and culture among the members of communities, we need to increase the occasions where thinking about the arts makes sense. Because the truth is, the arts make more things possible, from better education to greater health outcomes to a more civically-engaged citizenry—it’s just that people don’t always see the connection to the arts when change happens. Knowing people prioritize core issue areas like education, job security, housing, public safety, and health and wellness, how do we show the important ways the arts intersect with their day-to-day lives? At Americans for the Arts, our answer is the Arts + Social Impact Explorer.

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.

A Step beyond the Stats: The Miraculous Impact of Music on the Mind, Body and Brain

We’ve all seen the extraordinary figures released earlier this year by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: The arts and cultural sector contributed over $760 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015. Staggering statistics, to be sure; indisputable in their depth and breadth. But within and behind these statistics lie stories—stories about human capital and the limitless power of the arts to transform, to teach, and to trigger the brain to soar and to accelerate well beyond its own limits. What falls beyond these extraordinary figures—and here, I refer to music and music education in particular—is a piece of knowledge that is at once as simple as it is profound: Music matters.

Nominations Open for Advisory Council Members

Monday, September 17, 2018

Americans for the Arts Council Members

Americans for the Arts invites arts professionals from across the country to submit nominations for incoming advisory council members to advise on programs and services in the fields of Arts Education, Emerging Leadership, the Private Sector and Public Art. Nominations close Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.

From Ballet Dancer to Small Business Owner

I truly believe that my background in the performing arts has taught me the fundamentals in discipline, focus, and drive to achieve great heights of success. Tasting it is only sweeter because I have climbed the ladder to get there. There were always controversies, financial difficulties, mistakes, failed romances, criticisms, indecisions, and the eternal journey of growing up and identifying who you are. Despite these difficulties, I chose to dance because I believed I had a gift to share. Twenty-eight years ago, I also believed that I could be an asset to my husband as his business partner. I have no college degree to boast of, but I am an owner of a very successful, thriving small business.

Standing at the Intersection of Business and Society: Reflections from a Place where Nature and Modernism Co-exist

Earlier this month, I was thrilled to spend three days in Aspen, Colorado to experience a rich diet of intellectual dialogue, immersion in unspoiled nature, and innumerable opportunities to discuss and debate the critical role that business plays in society. As both an academic and CSR (corporate social responsibility) practitioner, the experience provided an opportunity for me to reflect on the history of the Aspen Institute as well as my personal role in understanding and teaching the many dimensions of how the private sector can be a positive catalyst for societal change. The experience also reminded me that business has played a critical role in supporting and promoting the arts in America. Although we cannot re-create the context, inspiration, and leadership that led to the creation of the Aspen Institute, we can all be pioneers in encouraging new models of corporate cultural responsibility where the arts enjoy secure and sustainable support from the private sector.

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. 

Minneapolis: At the Corner of Arts and Justice

It is true what people say, that art can heal. But what if art can do more than that? Above and beyond that old maxim, a platform for the arts can bring a whole community to the table. The Hennepin Theatre Trust is exploring the intersection of public space, social justice, and local creativity as it works to improve the historic Hennepin Theatre District. Surpassing even the most ambitious examples of creative placemaking, the Hennepin Theatre Trust made a journey from “talking the talk” to truly “walking the walk” of community-building through the arts. Making Hennepin Avenue safer and livelier was not only a question of engaging theatre-goers; it was a matter of actively including the voices of local people experiencing homelessness who rely on Hennepin Avenue to be a safe haven. Through this project, HTT began to lift the curtain on who uses public spaces in West Downtown Minneapolis, and why.

Building Courageous Business/Arts pARTnerships

Earlier this year, I was invited by the Utah Cultural Alliance and Utah Division of Arts and Museums in Salt Lake City for a professional development convening to present on the pARTnership Movement, a campaign by Americans for the Arts to teach business and cultural leaders alike how arts and culture can offer businesses, through pARTnership, a competitive edge. With over 50 executive directors and marketing staff in the room, my aim was to communicate that arts and business pARTnerships can look like so much more than a transactional relationship. I’ve often heard (and experienced as an arts fundraiser), “Why can’t they [the businesses] just give more cash? We need cash.” While the need for cash is real, our approach with the pARTnership Movement is broader.

Postcards from America’s Future Arts Leaders: Part 2

For 26 years, the Arts & Business Council of New York has been hosting the DIAL internship program as an investment in a more equitable arts management field. This summer, 12 Diversity in Arts Leadership interns from all over the country are working at arts nonprofits in New York City for ten weeks to explore and build skills in arts administration and leadership. Get to know these up-and-coming arts leaders in a two-part blog series.

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. 

Postcards from America’s Future Arts Leaders: Part 1

For 26 years, the Arts & Business Council of New York has been hosting the DIAL internship program as an investment in a more equitable arts management field. This summer, 12 Diversity in Arts Leadership interns from all over the country are working at arts nonprofits in New York City for ten weeks to explore and build skills in arts administration and leadership. Get to know these up-and-coming arts leaders in a two-part blog series.

A Utah Business “Not Throwin’ Away its Shot” to Help Rural Students Experience “Hamilton”

When Zions Bank was approached by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums with a request to support the Hamilton Education Program, executives knew high school students from Title I schools and rural towns spanning the state needed to be in “The Room Where It Happens.” The $16 billion-in-assets financial institution based in Salt Lake City has a significant presence and market share in rural communities; because of its statewide network of branches, it is important to the bank to help promote rural populations’ access to the artistic treasures concentrated in Salt Lake City. Through the Hamilton Education Program, nicknamed “EduHam,” producers made tickets available at a discount, which was subsidized by Zions Bank and the State of Utah through a bi-partisan appropriation. After weeks of studying a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton, the May 4, 2018 performance provided more than 2,300 students an opportunity to experience the musical in person. 

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