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Business and the Arts Make Great Bedfellows

Colorado Business for the Arts honorees know the arts give them an edge


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As people increasingly seek employment and consumer relations with firms that act as good stewards, being known as a business that supports the arts has emerged as a smart strategy to set companies apart from their competitors.

Ten such corporate and individual honorees were selected by Colorado Business Committee for the Arts at the annual Business for the Arts Awards in March.

“The 2019 Business for the Arts Awards honorees demonstrate the power of arts and creativity to advance Colorado’s economy and strengthen community vitality,” CBCA Executive Director Christin Crampton Day says.

She points to philanthropy, volunteer leadership and innovation present in the cross-section of organizational efforts championed by CBCA. Indeed, investing in local art programs and artists contributes to the health and culture of the community at large, making it a more attractive place to live and work.

While it’s true that putting time and capital into the arts may not provide a direct and measurable return on investment for a business, data shows that arts investment provides advantages for businesses and the community. According to ESP, a consulting firm that collects and analyzes sponsorship dollars, total spending on arts support in North America in 2017 was $993 million, expected to increase to $1.03 billion in 2018.

Locally, “the story this year is the diversity of arts and business partnerships that impact a variety of communities,” CBCA Program Director Meredith Badler says. “There seems to be a through line about expanding access to the arts, infusing it into our everyday lives and elevating the sector overall.”

For the first time in CBCA’s history, the nonprofit recognized a cannabis company, Colorado Harvest Co., for its support of the arts, specifically its community service and support as lead donors to the Levitt Pavilion’s capital campaign, providing more than 50 free concerts in Ruby Hill Park.

“Their Aurora dispensary has a built-in glass-blowing studio and photo booth to enhance the customer experience,” Badler says. “It’s a model for how and why cannabis companies can and should partner with the arts.”

Armando Silva, a Greeley-based artist, teacher and performer and honoree of the EY Next Wave Leadership Award in 2019, owns Artmando Studio and supports the community through performance paintings, murals and an annual hip-hop dance festival.

“I find myself still contributing to group projects, communities, businesses, brands and organizations. I just want to help the best way I can,” he says. “Some people write to communicate; some do math to communicate. I make art to communicate. We all carry a certain amount of responsibility in society. I am pushing to do my part in order to paint the bigger picture.”

CBCA released its bi-annual economic activity study Nov. 1, quantifying the contributions the arts have on the community. Record-breaking employment in the nonprofit cultural sector, increase in new money from cultural tourists and capital spending and growth in attendance are all highlights.

Total economic activity, which comprises direct and indirect spending from operations, audiences and capital projects reached $1.9 billion in 2017, the highest amount CBCA ever reported. Total economic impact, defined as new money to the region, hit $573 million from cultural tourists. And between 2015 and 2017, there was a 40 percent increase in capital spending.

 

 Business for the Arts Award

Check out the 2019 Business for the Arts Awards Honorees:

Bank of America: Denver Art Museum sponsorship

City of Lakewood: Collaboration with 40 West ArtLine

Colorado Harvest Co.: Founding sponsor of Denver’s Levitt Pavilion

Dairy Block: 700 pieces of art, featuring 30 local artists

The Independence Center: Unique relationships with cultural organizations

Kaiser Permanente: Public art in mental health awareness campaign.

 

EY Next Wave Leadership Award

Armando Silva

PNC Bank Cultural Leadership Award

Meredith Hutson

Volunteer Attorney of the Year

Dave Ratner

John Madden Jr. Leadership Award

• Mariner Kemper

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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