Marvin employees gather in the break room where local art hangs on the walls (photos by Scott Seiler in the upper right) as part of a recent ArtWORKS installation. Marvin is one of several area businesses that participate in the local art program. Contributed photo/Marvin
Researchers at Exeter School of Psychology studied more than 2,000 office workers and found that those immersed in art-filled work spaces were up to 32 percent more productive than those working in so-called “lean spaces” with bare walls and artless halls.
The Exeter findings are but one of countless studies that prove the benefits of art in the workplace, a trend that’s on the uptick at local businesses, thanks in part to support for ArtWORKS, a flagship program of The Arts Partnership.
ArtWORKS provides Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo businesses and organizations with curated rotating exhibits of local art in workplace galleries. In turn, local artists receive a stipend for lending their artwork to establishments.
Fifteen local organizations with 24 locations currently participate in The Arts Partnership’s ArtWORKS program for a wide variety of reasons that range from enhancing workplace well-being to supporting local artists.
“ArtWORKS is a great way to encourage local businesses to support local art and artists and realize the benefits of bringing art into their offices,” Tania Blanich, director of operations at The Arts Partnership, said. “It’s incredibly gratifying to us as an arts advocacy organization to see companies embrace our mission to cultivate community through the arts.”
ArtWORKS participating businesses
- 701 Eateries
- Aptitude Artist Studios
- Choice Bank Branches and Offices
- Element Fargo
- Fargo City Hall
- Forum Communications Company
- Hector Airport
- Jasper Hotel
- Luna Fargo
- Marvin Manufacturing Locations
- NDSU – Barry Hall
- NDSU – College of Math and Science
- Private Family Foundation Offices
- Regional Small Business Center
Fargo’s Hector International Airport hosts live music as part of its longtime participation in TAP’s ArtWORKS program. In addition, visual art by local artists hang throughout the airport.
Banich added that most organizations opt to install visual art in their spaces, but ArtWORKS also occasionally coordinates performances, such as live mini-concerts at Hector Airport throughout the year.
“The exhibits encompass a wide range of artistic mediums, including paintings, prints, photographs and even occasionally ceramics,” Blanich said. “Also, the content ranges from landscapes to abstract work and everything in between.”
Outcomes are outstanding. Businesses like Marvin, an ArtWORKS participant, anecdotally report higher employee engagement and job satisfaction when staff spend time in spaces enhanced by local art on display.
“We have seen many benefits of supporting local art this way, mainly around employee satisfaction,” Reisch said. “Adding local art to break rooms and office areas at several of its facilities in the Metro fits into the company’s mission to imagine and create better ways of living.”
Reisch, a 2022-23 TAP board member, said one of her favorite days is when the team swaps out art installations. “The entire facility is abuzz and everyone takes time to check out the new pieces as well as share which ones leaving were their favorite,” she said.
Artwork by local artist Brandi Malarkey hangs at Element Fargo. The hotel participates in The Arts Partnership’s ArtWORKS program to give guests a taste of local art during their visit. Contributed photo/Element Fargo
Jasper Hotel Director of Lifestyle Emily Olsen considers displaying local art a priority for the downtown destination. Currently, the hotel displays art by local artists on all ten floors of the facility as part of their participation in ArtWORKS programming.
“Our collaboration with ArtWORKS brings several featured artists and their amazing pieces to our traveling guests and allows them to get a look into the creativity in our city,” Olsen said.
Choice Bank’s AVP of Brand and Marketing Shelley Szudera, said employees at the bank “Love the rotating art exhibits, and instead of water cooler conversations, we’re having local art conversations.”
Choice now includes local art exhibits at four of its locations regionally, Szudera said.
“We’ve had employees fall in love with artwork and purchase and place it permanently in their space,” she said. We love that at any given time we’re hosting four local art shows.”
Choice has been a longstanding supporter of local art and granted $9,000 worth in funding to local organizations seeking to incorporate art programming to benefit underserved populations.
Fargo’s Hector International Airport Executive Director Shawn Dobberstein said he’s particularly proud of the presence of local art in one of the region’s most heavily trafficked venues: the airport.
“The pieces are a unique way to show FlyFargo travelers who we are as a community and the values we share,” he said.
Hector displays local visual art and also hosts live mini-concerts featuring local musicians, as well.
FBS real estate software company moved into a new building in 2021, and for Director of Customer Success Kendra O’Brien, including local art was a no-brainer.
“It was important to us to choose art that had a connection to our work, our customers, and our community. We love the variety of artworks we’ve been able to host, and it’s a key part of the building tour when we have visiting board members or employees in Fargo,” she said.
Another participating business, Element by Westin Hotel in West Fargo, displays ArtWORKS exhibits up and down its hallways.
“The offer to support our local artist community by participating in ArtWORKS was something we jumped on,” said Element Fargo General Manager Tanner Tweten. “It’s a really nice touch to be able to tell guests they have a local artist exhibit at their fingertips.”
Tweten said both guests and staff enjoy the rotating exhibits because they’re typically “Something they might not come across on their own,” he said. “The pieces bring a freshness and vibrancy to our hallways that people really enjoy.”
Just inside the atrium of City Hall, ArtWORKS curated pieces by local artist Trudy Stubson, including this one, titled, “Cruising.” Contributed/The Arts Partnership
TAP’s Project Manager Christina Johnson, who leads efforts at Aptitude creative art studios at West Acres Mall and coordinates ArtWORKS installations, said, “It’s rewarding to see the employees and customers react so positively each time we install new artwork from a local artist into their participating businesses.”
Of course, there’s the enormous benefit to supporting local artists, too. Local multimedia storyteller and artist Brandi Malarkey, owner of itsallmalarkey.com, has been a contributing artist for ArtWORKS, and calls it a great opportunity for artists and businesses.
“Not everyone has the time and opportunity to go to art shows. When businesses invest in local artists it not only helps support the artist financially, but also helps connect those stories to a different audience,” she said. “If my art speaks to someone who wouldn’t get to see it otherwise, and it makes the look a little closer, or maybe smile, for me, that’s a win.”
Businesses and organizations interested in hosting ArtWORKS in their offices or workplaces may contact Blanich at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
About the author
Lonna Whiting is a freelance writer and owner of lonna.co, a content marketing and communications agency located in Fargo, North Dakota. She is a frequent contributor to The Arts Partnership’s content library and also provides strategic communications consultation to the organization.