A Shared Mandate: Forging Business-Arts Partnerships in Dallas (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Michael Granberry, Oct 04, 2012 0 comments

(Editor's Note: This post was originally published on September 25, 2012 as part of Michael Granberry's regular Dallas Morning News column.)

The Business Council for the Arts has been around for 25 years, building “corporate investment and opportunities in the arts.” It became apparent [September 25] that its new partner, Mayor Mike Rawlings, shares that mandate.

In his state-of-the-city address, Rawlings touted his “business/arts initiative” as “an opportunity to forge ‘friendships’ between small, medium and large business and local arts organizations.”

The mayor called the arts “one of the most powerful economic generators for the community,” noting that during the 2009 fiscal year, arts and cultural organizations contributed more than $1.06 billion “in economic impact to the North Texas economy.”

Katherine Wagner, the CEO of the Business Council for the Arts, calls it “a win-win situation,” applauding the mayor for believing “that every business that makes its home here and makes its money here also has a responsibility to foster the city’s culture.”

Gold Metal Recyclers, she says, is an example of a local business already committed to the partnership. It’s teaming up with Creative Arts Center of Dallas, Wagner says, to merge the materials sold by the business with the talents of those at the center.

“What do they have available? Scrap metal. Lots of it,” says Wagner, who notes that she and council member Ann Margolin, who’s leading the mayor’s arts initiative, said to the folks at Gold Metal Recyclers: “You have scrap metal. They need scrap metal for their sculptures.”

The business expressed interest in creating a sculpture walk around South Lamar, where the company is located.

“We brought the two organizations together,” Wagner said. “Gold Metal Recyclers said, ‘We’ve got all this metal here. You’re welcome to use it. Maybe what we’ll do is build a studio on site for your sculptor, where he can create artworks and maybe engage the employees in creating sculpture.’ How fun is that?”

A similar partnership exists between the Weitzman Group and Texas Ballet Theater. As Business Council for the Arts notes in its written materials, “private donations and sponsorship simply cannot sustain these arts institutions any longer, which is why our city must call upon the business leaders of Dallas to cultivate the arts community.”

Dallas, Wagner says, “has a good record of business-arts partnerships, but it needs to be a more complete one.”

(This post is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts' campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

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