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    It’s been said that art adds meaning to our lives, but without support, a lot of art would never happen. Many Montgomery businesses continually provide needed funds and services to keep the arts alive in the capital city, and The Montgomery Area Business Committee for the Arts works to foster these relationships as well as recognize their efforts. 

    For nearly 40 years, the Montgomery Area Business Committee for the Arts has been working to bring businesses of all sizes together with artists and art organizations in our community. Although ostensibly the businesses provide support to the arts, it’s actually a mutually beneficial relationship. “Involvement in the arts promotes creativity and good community citizenship in the business community, and the arts creates millions of dollars in economic opportunity,” said Ashley DuBose Ledbetter, who has been Executive Director of the MABCA since 2003. “It’s good for the community and good for the soul.”

    The MABCA is an affiliate of the National Business Committee for the Arts, which was established in 1967 by David Rockefeller, who at the time was president of Chase Manhattan Bank. MABCA was the very first affiliate created in the United States, in 1979, after Montgomery businessman and philanthropist Wynton M. “Red” Blount was awarded a National Business in the Arts Award.   

    Blount returned to Montgomery and, along with Bobby Weil Sr. and Frank Plummer, founded the local MABCA. The stated mission of the organization is “to provide businesses with the services needed to develope startegic alliances with the arts and arts education that would meet business objectives, foster creativity in the arts and the workplace and enhance the quality of life for the community.” 

    The MABCA is a membership organization made up of both large companies and smaller companies and start-ups. There is an annual membership fee based on the number of employees in a company. “One of the things I’m proud of that we do is that we emphasize that businesses and individuals from all walks of life can get involved with supporting the arts,” Ledbetter said. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of a community, but they often think maybe they don’t have the resources to get involved. But they often support the arts in ways people don’t realize by providing services and support. Montgomery is very fortunate, and the River Region, to have so many arts opportunities. There’s something for everyone and every size.” 

    Activities for members include seminars that bring together businesses and arts organizations to collaborate and network and to establish contacts between artists and businesses that are interested in getting involved. Businesses also enjoy exclusive behind-the-scenes tours that let them see what it takes to put on a play at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, or to stage a Montgomery Symphony concert. 

    For 30 years, the MABCA has also hosted an annual awards luncheon that allows artists and arts organizations to thank businesses that have shown exceptional support. “In many small communities, large philanthropic corporate contributions are not always available. So it’s the small business community, many times, that creates the backbone of support for the arts,” said Jim Leonard, partner, Stamp Idea Group. His business, which at that time was known as LWT Communications, won a Business in the Arts Award in 2004 and 2008, and the Frank Plummer Memorial Arts Award, recognizing consistent excellence in support of the arts community, in 2011. The agency also was a Business in the Arts Award finalist in 2003. “That support can go beyond monetary contributions—small businesses can support the arts through volunteer efforts, pro-bono work, promotional tie-ins and other partnerships.” After three decades since its founding, many things have changed, but MABCA’s commitment to bringing businesses and the arts community together has remained.


    In 2016, the MABCA established the Helen Steineker Community Award, named in honor of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra’s longtime manager, who passed away in 2013. During her time leading the MSO, Steineker proposed that the annual Business in the Arts Awards include an honor for an organization that may not qualify as a traditional business but that goes above and beyond to help the arts environment. It has been called the Community Award but in 2016 was renamed in her honor. Jackson Hospital Foundation was the first recipient, in recognition of its efforts to incorporate local artwork throughout the hospital. 

    Do your part: If your business would like to join MABCA and get involved in the capital city’s thriving arts community, visit mabca.org to learn more and find membership details. 


    MAX Continues to Invest in Community - In early March, MAX announced it will once again support eight local non-profit organizations in 2017, both through financial contributions and hands-on volunteer work by its associates. MAX will invest in these non-profits located in the River Region and in Lee County: The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, M.A.N.E, E.A.T. South, the Prattville Y Field of Dreams, the Alabama Wildlife Federation -Lanark, BigHouse Foundation and Storybook Farm. Each of these eight organizations will be given a donation of $5,000 to support educational initiatives and local events designed to further their causes. 

    Hearts for Children - Businesses from around Alabama celebrated this past Valentine’s Day by making a difference in the lives of local young people. The Montgomery Capital Rotary Club held its Hearts for Children Valentine Gala on February 11, and Capitol Hill Healthcare & Rehab First, a five-star long-term care facility and rehabilitation center in Montgomery, was a Gold Sponsor for the event, which benefitted the Boys & Girls Clubs of the River Region. Capitol Hill Healthcare & Rehab First contributions will help support the organization, which serves more than 1,300 children in the surrounding area. “We are so pleased to be able to help young people have access to positive opportunities and life-changing experiences,” said Sharon Baker, administrator of Capitol Hill Healthcare & Rehab First. 

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