8 ways to partner with the arts, and 8 ways companies across the country have done it

Posted by Jordan Shue, Jul 18, 2014 0 comments

Actors rehearsing for the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Actors rehearsing for the Humana Festival of New American Plays.


I’m so happy you’ve been spending time this week reading the contributions to our blog salon on arts and business partnerships! We’ve seen a lot of really great posts from hardworking people around the country, and I hope to hear from more of you in the future about the interesting and exciting pARTnerships you’ve been forming. If the thought of missing out on your daily dose of arts and biz news after the salon’s conclusion is just too much to handle, never fear! The pARTnership Movement, an initiative from Americans for the Arts designed to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage, is constantly posting success stories and information about the latest and greatest pARTnerships. Below is our list of 8 ways to partner with the arts, and each is paired with a real-life example we’ve seen and featured through the pARTnership Movement in the past few months:

  1. Recruit Talent: Employees want to live and work in a vibrant community. Earlier this year, we posted a story about a collaboration between a group of friendly energy in Houston who has teamed up over the years to assist in the development of some of the city’s biggest arts organizations. Joni Baird, the Houston Manager of Policy, Government, and Public Affairs at Chevron said: “When I hear that there’s a milestone or chance to innovate, it opens my brain. And when I’m around these creative people, magic happens.”
  1. Put Your Company in the Spotlight: The arts help you build market share, enhance your brand, and reach new customers. For nearly four decades, healthcare company Humana has partnered with the Actors Theatre of Louisville to present the Humana Festival of New American Plays. The partnership has helped both parties to “not only reach people, but to actually engage them in what [they] do and effectively tell [their] story."
  1. Advance Corporate Objectives & Strategies: The arts help you get your message across in engaging ways. Beck’s Beer has a historic commitment to the arts, and each year since 2011 has sponsored a global augmented reality gallery that showcases work from over 1,000 artists. This project has helped to highlight the power of the arts while serving as a powerful marketing mechanism for the company.
  1. Foster Critical Thinking: Did you know that creativity is among the top applied skills sought by employers? According to a recent FastCompany article, venture capital firms around the world are snapping up designers and creatives who have the training to “transform ideas from their early stages into business models worthy of investment.”  It’s no longer a secret in the business world that ones and zeros don’t always add up to success—the ability to look critically at the structure of a project and think creatively about how best to model it has direct ties to the fundamentals of art and design education.
  1. Google Ventures design partners. Photo courtesy of FastCoDesign.com Google Ventures design partners. Photo courtesy of FastCoDesign.com


    Engage Your Employees: The arts challenge employees to be their best. Microsoft recently welcomed their inaugural artist-in-resident, digital portraitist James George, who has “revealed a way for [employees] to look at their work through a new lens.” Senior research designer Asta Roseway said: “we were using James as our guinea pig because we wanted to understand how someone like him functions in an environment like this. But I think we’re really open to bringing in different types. We could bring a fashion designer in and look at the question of wearables, or a poet to come in and look at the question of language analysis.”

  1. Embrace Diversity & Team Building: The arts create an environment that blends backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures. The Arts & Business Council of New York recently welcomed 11 multicultural arts nonprofits interns, which businesses like ConEdison and Time Warner have supported through an additional business mentorship role for several years. The program is a wonderful example of fostering the next generation of diverse business leaders who value and support the arts.
  1. Say Thanks: The arts are a great way to show you appreciate your employees. Time Warner Inc., a 2006 BCA 10 honoree and longtime supporter of the arts, recently held its 33rd annual Richard D. Parsons Community Impact Awards, which recognizes employees for their community and public service contributions. The social rewards of engagement for employees are often driven by the philanthropic focus of a company and recognizing those who take advantage of the opportunities is a great way to encourage employees while fulfilling them at the same time.
  1. Contribute to the Economy & Quality of Life: When you partner with local arts, you partner with the whole city. Nashville-based BCA Executive Board member, businesswoman, and longtime arts supporter, Martha Ingram, was recently featured on her local news station to speak on behalf of the arts community and to highlight how fostering its growth has provided benefits for the entire city.
The Arts & Business Council of New York's multicultural arts nonprofits interns The Arts & Business Council of New York's multicultural arts nonprofits interns


For more news items and success stories like these, be sure to regularly visit the pARTnership Movement. Let us know if you stumble across any other great resources on employee engagement and feel free to share your challenges, goals, and successes with us! The pARTnership Movement also boasts a wealth of resources, including toolkits about enacting employee engagement programs, establishing a Business Volunteers for the Arts® program, and bringing arts-based training programs to the workplace.   Our blog salon on Unique Business Partnerships this week is generously sponsored by Drexel University Online.

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