Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has launched what he's calling the "Business/Arts Initiative." The project's goal is to encourage people in the business community to support the arts.
"I have tapped several top business executives to join this initiative and substantially boost business support for the arts—in financial terms as well as participation," says Mayor Rawlings.
Mayor Rawlings is working with Councilmember and Chair of the City's Arts, Culture and Libraries Committee Ann Margolin and Business Council for the Arts CEO Katherine Wagner. They have assembled an Arts Action Team, which is made up of around 15 business owners who are long time supporters of the arts. The plan is for the team members to reach out to their colleagues and encourage them to join them in supporting local arts organizations.
"Team members will not advocate for one arts organization over another, but instead help us make the greater case for these partnerships and provide a path forward," says Rawlings.
In order to make the process as streamlined as possible, arts organizations are being asked to submit "business engagement" packages. These packages can include anything from group tickets to full sponsorships. Wagner says around 80 of the roughly 130 arts organizations in Dallas have already submitted package proposals at the $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 levels through the Business Council for the Arts' website.
"Mayor Rawlings understands that for our city's arts institutions to survive and thrive, there must be strong relationships between our city's business community and the arts," says AT&T Performing Arts Center Acting President and CEO Doug Curtis. "The Initiative has the opportunity to reach a diverse and wide range of arts groups with much needed support. We hope this becomes a model for arts support around the country."
Wagner says the initiative is also good for participating businesses who are interested in getting their name out to arts patrons.
According to the most recent NEA survey on arts patrons, around 76 percent of the people who go to the theater, classical or jazz concerts and museums have a graduate degree. They also tend to have a fair amount of disposable income. At the same time, the study found that in "2008, Americans from 18 to 24 years old showed the greatest gains of any age group in pursuing at least one type of arts activity—the reading of literature."
"If a company is thinking about becoming an arts supporter, this is a really easy doorway," says Wagner. "Everyone is all in one place. The information we will provide about the engagement packages is really comprehensive and direct."
Mayor Rawlings says that a stronger partnership between the business and the arts worlds will benefit the city as a whole.
"I strongly believe that the arts enhance a city's quality of life, economic growth and business development. Art inspires, brings a wide range of people together and bridges divides."