Artful Giving: Why Local Businesses Support the Arts
Four Business Leaders Offer Their Views
By ANGELA WAMPLER | A! MAGAZINE FOR THE ARTS | November 22, 2009From Alpha Natural Resources in Abingdon, Va., President & CEO Kevin Crutchfield says:
Working to improve the lives of and partnering with those around us has been part of Alpha's culture from Day One. To achieve the most impact, we have provided funding and volunteer support to the arts as well as education, healthcare, fuel assistance and weatherization projects in the communities where we live, work and play.
It's all part of our philosophy of "Running Right." By working to improve the lives of our neighbors, we all benefit. The arts provide a great opportunity for learning and enjoyment, no matter what our ages or stations in life. They are fun and act as interactive tools that lead to personal growth and community success.
One of the reasons that the arts are essential to a community is that they inspire us to think about who we are and how we want to be defined. Individuals must understand their potential and purpose in order to gain the wisdom and confidence to take bold action in self-expression, in business and community development. The arts compel us to look inward and lead us to develop our power to create, to determine what we do best and then to do it. The arts are especially important during developmental years because they give young people the opportunity to experiment and master self-expression that may emerge years later in an entirely unrelated activity. Unfortunately, many people view the arts not as central to individual development but as extras that can be cut when times are difficult.
Alpha recently made a special donation to the William King Museum in Abingdon, Va., to fund new vans for the educational outreach program that delivers art to schools in 11 counties surrounding Abingdon. The VanGogh Outreach Program supplements elementary school-based art education in five counties and is the sole source of art education in six counties. This kind of donation leverages the resources of an existing arts program and allows it to positively influence the self-exploration and self-expression of hundreds of school-age children in the regions where we operate.
At Eastman Chemical Company headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn., Etta Clark, Vice President of Public Affairs, says:
The arts not only enrich our communities, they strengthen our quality of life in ways that we often don't even notice. Art is such an important part of our everyday lives and I believe it allows us to be more thoughtful and well-rounded, and often provides a unique perspective that encourages creativity. We are very fortunate to have so many amazing artists and arts organizations in our region.
Historically, one of the main focus areas for Eastman has been to support arts education and cultural organizations. As we provide innovative solutions to the marketplace, we recognize the need for promoting the arts as a company. Our desire is to offer the community opportunities to experience a variety of artistic expressions through funds and volunteer support from Eastman. We want to see supported initiatives and programs build the region's artistic presence.
At Plastic Surgery Specialists in Abingdon, Va., Dr. Roger Emory writes:
Having a vibrant arts community is important to the economy of our region. It acts as a catalyst to attract new business and tourism. A vibrant arts community also attracts artists to the region, provides a place for creative expression and encourages further growth of the arts, not only for established artists, but for young people who might not otherwise learn to express their artistic talents.
Some of the major attractions for our relocating to Abingdon were the cultural experiences offered here. Abingdon is unique by having Barter Theatre, the State Theatre of Virginia. The unique size of the town and its vibrant arts community made it an attractive place to establish our corporation. The success of our community depends on those who live and work here supporting organizations that are credible, high quality, and relevant to our area.
In addition to helping arts organizations, Plastic Surgery Specialists gains increased name recognition from our gifts. For example, we have been donors to Barter Theatre for years and, for the first time, are show sponsors for the 2010 season.
Patrick Kane is senior vice president of marketing communications for Wellmont Health System. He says:
Arts are vital to enriching the quality of life and establishing a creative outlet for local citizens. Audiences benefit as the arts heighten the senses and open a window into the minds and creativity of some of the world's most gifted performers and artists. A vibrant arts community is one of the vital signs of measuring a good quality of life.
Wellmont's support of the arts lies in one of our corporate values: philanthropy. We are owned by the communities we serve, and our volunteer community board members recognize the need to give back. The arts helps us do that in a manner that benefits a wide variety of people.
Our return from supporting the arts comes when we are able to recruit and retain gifted physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals. It comes when the citizens of our communities enjoy or participate in activities that promote a healthy mind, body and spirit. As a community asset, our return is not measured by what we give but rather by what others receive.
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— Artful Giving in a Difficult Economy