One of the events in Philadelphia that I knew pretty well before arriving here in 2008 was the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia's annual awards luncheon. I had attended the event several times as the national CEO of the Arts & Business Council Inc., now part of Americans for the Arts. I can personally attest that there is no event like this in the entire country, bringing together so many arts leaders with so many business leaders, celebrating business support for the arts, business voluntarism, and the role the arts play in building a healthy community in which people want to live, work and play. The event attracts as many as 1,700 people. Most other cities - even cities much larger - are lucky if they can get 400 or 500 people at similar events.
The theme this year is "Planet Art" - every such event must have its theme, hence the title of this blog posting. I think this year is a time when perhaps more than ever we need opportunities to come together and celebrate these values. The thing I have always liked about the event is the way it brings together a broad cross-section of the arts sector - all disciplines, all sizes, so many different communities represented; as well as bringing together so many different types of business - small, medium, large. And not just the CEO's but the employees who are serving on boards, volunteering through VLA and BVA, etc.
I think if we want more businesses and business leaders to value the arts we need to recognize and celebrate those businesses and individuals that already get it, and use events like this as a vehicle for shoring up the support we have, and making new friends for the arts.