Guest Commentator: Rose Kohles, Vice President, National Settlement Team, Huntington Bank @Huntington_Bank

What role can leaders in the business community play to make an impact in shaping the direction of the arts and culture sector in this unprecedented environment?

Given the drastically different environment brought on by the virus and ensuing lockdowns, business leaders must be more creative in their ability to promote the arts and culture sectors. In my new role as a board member for Girls First, an arts education nonprofit in Norristown, one of my many tasks was to help the organization adapt and stay relevant during these trying times. The ideas and implementation are ever evolving but I believe we are on the right track.

  1. Encourage Engagement: Business leaders should encourage engagement with the arts and culture sector. Leaders themselves should be an example by sharing their own engagement, and make sure the ability to get involved is accessible for others. Many businesses in our region promote or have implemented programs encouraging community involvement, such as dedicated time out of the office, grants for the organizations their employees are involved with, and recognition programs.
  2. Donate Resources: Many arts and culture organizations faced significant challenges carrying out their missions this year. Many managed to design and build a new way of doing so, but that effort requires time, energy, and money. Girls First and other organizations like ours benefitted so much from community support, both monetarily and otherwise. Many organizations that pivoted to online programming partnered with local organizations to supply laptops and other technology – donations are not limited to dollars.
  3. Promote Outreach: One of the things I am most grateful for in 2020 is our ability to come together as a community. Business leaders can continue to foster relationships and support the arts and culture sector by sharing in this community and helping to get the word out about the mission, programming, and events the within the organization itself.

We will all be better off by communicating more and sharing what we have. This year has highlighted that lesson for me the most.


Rose Kohles is a graduate of Business on Board, Philadelphia’s only leadership development program that trains business professionals in nonprofit board governance and matches them with arts and culture nonprofits to serve as board members.