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Businesses and Culture

When business works with culture, everybody wins.

We believe that when cultural organizations and local businesses work together, amazing things can happen, but too often, each sector operates independently, unaware of the incredible missed opportunities for creating connected communities right in front of them.

One element of our new Be Here: Main Street (#bHereMainSt) partnership with the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program is to encourage GLAMS to reach across the proverbial isle, bringing together community museums and libraries with businesses, from restaurants to hardware stores and gift shops. Why would this be an imperative?

There’s something deeper than the obvious opportunity for potential sponsorship. Small businesses depend on positive word of mouth for sustainability. Small museums often rely on the knowledge of residents to direct people to their facilities. With that in mind, ponder this coffee shop scenario:

A tourist arrives for a bite to eat, has a nice meal, and asks the waitress what she should do in town. The waitress recommends the local museum. In fact, there is a brochure and postcard for the local museum at the cash register that she promptly returns to the tourist. The visitor then walks to the museum and, in turn, chats with museum staff about any local stores that might sell a speciality item. The visitor receives an impassioned endorsement about a local antique shop that might have her desired object.

This scenario plays out organically on main streets and towns across the world, but more often than not, it’s a random series of one-off conversations. What if that collaboration between cultural organizations and local businesses was well crafted? What if the museum offered a coupon for lunch at restaurant A, and restaurant A offered a 10% discount for the museum’s gift shop? What if the same restaurant offered lunchtime lectures from staffers at the museum? What if both the restaurant and the museum were included on a tour of the town? What if, now this is REALLY crazy, the museum actually featured some of the stories of the local business owners? Or, even crazier, if the restaurant’s menu was inspired by the collections at the local museum. We could go on and on . . .

These are all things we’d like to see transpire through the Be Here: Main Street project. But, there has to be a first step, and that initial step is just to make conversations happen. Here are a couple of tips for getting businesses involved with your community project, provided by Julie Heath, Director of Strategy & Partnerships at Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts.

business + culture = successIn order to approach businesses in your community, know the local business landscape:

  • Identify the top 20 employers in your town. These are the businesses that rely on your community as a source of talent, for services for their employees, for word-of-mouth reputation, and for civic buy-in regarding their presence and growth. They likely want to be seen as part of their community.
  • Make a two-column list: One column “B2B” and one column “B2C.” Sort each employer into the appropriate column by asking, “does this company sell its product or service to other companies or to individual people?” If a company sells to companies, its business model is called B2B (business to business). If it sells to individuals, it’s called B2C. It’s important to understand that an employer may have different relationships with its community based on its business model. Your job as a community partner or sponsored prospect/recipient is to determine what type of relationship(s) that company wants to have with its community.

Good to keep in mind:

  • B2B businesses’ products and services are sometimes less obvious to the community member than B2C products and services.
  • B2B businesses sometimes have higher profit margins than B2C businesses.
  • These two factors together can make B2B businesses better sponsorship prospects, provided you can figure out who you should speak with at the company.

Part II of “Business and Culture” is coming next week. Until then follow posts about our project using the hashtag #bHereMainSt.

Creative Content for All

Baltimore streetThe idea behind the new “Be Here: Main Street” project, a partnership with the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program, is that regular people can contribute to the cultural landscape, sharing stories that help give others a sense of time and place. It’s not only an effort to add more diverse voices to our local and national narratives, but also a way of legitimizing the value of non-traditional histories, based on lived experiences and accrued knowledge. Be Here stories offer an authentic glimpse into the history, traditions, and culture of a community.

Accordingly, one of the goals of the project is to empower new content creators to produce their own stories, using free and open platforms. It’s a big ask, given the complexity of various software types and the sticky web of digital copyright laws, but we’re paving a path of least resistance for novice storytellers with a series of tools and solutions to make the process of editing and publishing content a bit less intimidating.

Whether you’re a media-producing pro or an absolute novice, a consolidated list of Creative Commons resources is a must! Here are a few of the best places on the web to find public domain and Creative Commons assets. Have additional go-to stops for CC content? Tweet us @museWeb and tag your post with #bHereMainSt

Creative Commons and Public Domain Resources

Example of how to credit an image.
This is a good example of how to attribute a Flickr CC image. Thrift Store Books,” photo by Kate Geraets. Flickr Creative Commons. Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0). You could just include “(CC BY-NC 2.0)” and not spelled out the license; however, I like to make the credit easy to understand. 

To keep the text brief, I’ve included live links to the original source and the license information. If an image link isn’t possible, include the long form of the url. Ask yourself, “Can the viewer find that original resource again?” Finally, if you’ve downloaded the image to your computer or device, be sure to save the image with a name that captures the relevant information for appropriate attribution later.

#iSTANDfor Igniting Arts Patronage

Courtney Wassen
Courtney Wassen is one of many people who have expressed her passion for the arts in the #iSTANDfor campaign.

What do YOU stand for? Courtney Wasson stands for igniting arts patronage. Her story is part of the #iSTANDfor campaign, created by our friends at the Onassis Foundation USA.

We hold a belief that art is essential. It is the qualities of art that spark conversation, investigation, questioning, opinions, perspective, introspection and reflection.  It is why five million people visit the Sistine Chapel every year and why artists such Warhol can move from being a controversial artist to a museum staple.  Art makes statements and asks questions.

We believe in igniting arts patronage because we believe that art is essential.  We want to fight the starving artist stereotype by advocating for the value of art with the knowledge that artists are not endeavoring in a hobby. Artists are valued both as creators and for their perspective.  It could be the mastery of a skill and technique and/or the perspective and lens with which they view the world. Every human culture has an art form through which it expresses and identifies; it is this communion that serves as a foundation of culture.

There are no concrete answers as to how we determine the value of art, as it is not simply the value of time and material.  It is a pursuit.  Ask a painter how long it takes to paint a painting and they may validly respond with the answer of “a lifetime” – a lifetime of growth, experience, perspective, and practice.  Artwork has the ability to extend beyond decoration because an artist can hone in on an emotion, feeling, or experience. Through artwork an artist is able to share in or expand upon one’s perspective.

Our efforts in the gallery are to advocate for both the artist and patron.  Weinberger Fine Art was founded on a commitment to showcase diverse and high-quality work from emerging and established artists. The gallery serves as a venue that allows patrons to directly engage with the artwork.  Our duty as gallerists is to act as a guide and allow viewers the freedom of opinion and  the opportunity to ask questions.

The gallery serves as a connector and a hub in our community.  It is a place for people to gather and participate in conversation. In an effort to further connect and continue the conversation, we have begun to showcase artists through online audio tours.  These tours provide the opportunity to hear directly from the artist, curator, or critical writer for further questions and insights.

I stand for igniting arts patronage. It takes vision to be an arts patron, to see potential and value in the role and purpose of the artist in our society. An arts patron understands that their patronage yields a cultural return.  It is the knowledge that they are supporting the artistic talent that will later supply our cultural institutions.”

–Courtney Wasson, Weinberger Fine Art