8 Times the Arts Saved the Day at Work

Posted by Jessica Gaines, Feb 23, 2017 0 comments

These examples, taken from the pARTnership Movement essays, showcase how today’s most innovative businesses are using the arts to help meet some of their most difficult and vital objectives. Click on the essay icons to be taken directly to the full article.

1. With Talent: Boost appeal with young professionals

To help generate an environment that people want to stay in or move to, especially between the ages of 25 and 35, employ the arts! Zachary Mannheimer created Des Moines Social Club (DMSC) to serve as an artistic hub for the community, developing and hosting artistic events while also undertaking a community-building mission. DMSC produces between 700 and 800 events per year and reaches an annual audience of more than 240,000 people. The organization has four resident theater companies and is wrapping up an $8 million renovation and historic preservation project on its new home–a 1930s Art Deco building that was formerly a firehouse.

2. With Customers: Show what’s behind “the curtain”

By partnering with artists, it is possible to bring a brand to life while sharing seldom-seen places with your customers and the community. Portland General Electric Company (PGE), an investor-owned public utility company, saw an opportunity to showcase its physical spaces that customers rarely get to see. PGE Project Manager Deb Schallert secured approval for a dozen artists to gain supervised access to a PGE powerhouse for a two-day art-making event coined Art Jam. PGE invited photographers, painters, sculptors, and other artists into some of its hydroelectric plants to showcase the beauty and the history of these industrial sites, some of which date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Portland was still somewhat of a frontier boomtown.

3. With Messaging: Reinforce what you are about

Practice what you preach! Kaiser Permanente, nonprofit health plan, uses initiatives including Educational Theatre Program (ETP) that seeks to model positive behaviors and healthy decision-making through the medium of theater for youth. ETP is way of providing an additional benefit to its communities. By using this creative and unique method of communicating healthful messages to children, Kaiser Permanente not only seeks to keep children healthy, but also hopes that the children will take some of the messages they learn back to their families and disseminate these healthy lifestyle choices, ultimately strengthening their entire communities.

4. With Critical Thinking: Get into their minds

Bringing art directly into the workplace amps up creativity, originality and uniqueness. John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC), an independent contemporary arts nonprofit organization, asked Kohler Co., known for power generation, hospitality, and interior décor like kitchen and bath fixtures, to partner on a unique artist-in-residence program called Arts/Industry. The artists who participate in Arts/Industry use Kohler Co.’s industrial equipment and materials to produce their art–right alongside Kohler Co. associates building bathtubs, sinks, faucets, and other household fixtures. Many of the Kohler Co. associates enjoy seeing artists take the same processes and materials that they use every day and doing something completely different and creative with them and several associates have stated that working with the Arts/Industry residents helps them to think more creatively about their own work. 

5. With Employees: Get to their passion

By including arts in the workspace you can unleash originality and solve other business needs. Center of Creative Arts (COCA), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that offers dance, theater, voice, art, and design but also integrates arts into the core subjects in ways that strengthen students’ understanding of math, science, and language arts. COCA began exploring how its arts educators could help companies unleash creativity and work on key issues and opportunities, and realized they could apply the same strategy to business applications–pairing hands-on teaching artists with business facilitators who could map the artistic lessons back to the everyday language business people use and the challenges they face.

6. With Showing Appreciation: Thank them, sincerely

Who doesn’t enjoy an artistic and cultural experience? When the broadband and entertainment company Cox Communications wants to show its appreciation to employees who serve on volunteer or diversity committees, it gives them tickets to jazz concerts festivals, and other popular events run by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance. Access to arts and culture experiences are great for incentivizing or rewarding employees for exceeding company targets and goals–or simply for employees who go above and beyond the call of duty in giving back to the community. 

7. With Inclusion: Reinforce togetherness

 Great way to open everyone’s eyes to the rich diversity of community arts organizations in your city. Insurance company The Travelers Companies championed the creation of an employee Arts and Diversity Committee as a way to communicate about diversity issues and strengthen the company’s relationship with the community. This committee helped Travelers to discover hidden talents among its workforce and also increased engagement and camaraderie among the members of the committee and throughout the company, and also helped to foster dialogue and understanding both inside and outside the company. Travelers made the choice to put funding decisions in the hands of committee members so funds were often disbursed to arts organizations that serve or represent specific groups such as Gay/Straight Alliance Youth Chorus and In Progress who developed exhibits featuring the work of young Hmong photographers. The In Progress work was exhibit in the Travelers’ office building and several of the artists shared their artistic and personal perspectives with some of the employees.

8. With Community: Capture the whole city

Enlivening public spaces provides a civic benefit to artists and audiences. Arts Brookfield, a program of Brookfield Property Partners, has committed to making its premier office properties in cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston into arts and culture destinations. Brookfield works with local artists in each city where it operates and adapt the Arts Brookfield program to each location. This placemaking uses a whole range of arts - visual arts, film, photography, ballet, theater, tap dance, and even site-specific works–to build the brand’s personality and engage the multitudes.

For more stories connecting business and the arts, visit the pARTnership Movement. To share your arts and business partnerships with Americans for the Arts pARTnership Movement, contact BCA Coordinator Jessica Gaines at bca@artsusa.org

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