Americans for the Arts names top 10 companies that support the arts

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Corporate philanthropy has long been a means of soul-cleansing for American businesses. For arts institutions, corporate donations are a lifeblood without which many would cease to exist. The awkward symbiosis is for the most part unique to the U.S. cultural scene -- the result of shriveled government funding for the arts and spiraling costs.

Americans for the Arts has released its annual top-10 list of companies that support the arts. Among the honorees this year are two big energy companies, a few utility companies and a healthcare insurance organization.


One of this year’s honorees is Conoco Phillips, the oil giant based in Houston. The company donated an impressive $3 million for cultural causes in 2009, according to Americans for the Arts. (To put it in perspective, the amount represents less than one-half of 1% of the company’s profits for the year.) Conoco Phillips provides major support to the Houston Grand Opera, the Oklahoma Art Institute, the Houston Symphony and other organizations.

The recognition could balance out less-flattering attention: According to reports, Conoco Phillips was one of two companies to recently agree to pay approximately $4.5 million and spend an additional $10 million to clean a polluted Louisiana bayou, settling federal and state environmental claims.

Another firm making the list this year is Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. The health insurance company has donated more than $4.7 million to South Carolina arts organizations since 2004, said Americans for the Arts.

According to reports, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina was one of a number of health insurance companies to halt sales of new individual policies for children in the wake of the healthcare reform legislation passed earlier this year by Congress. The company in October resumed selling individual family policies that include children under 19 years old.

No California companies made the list this year, but a number of Golden State companies have been included in years past: Adobe Systems and Applied Materials, in 2009; Qualcomm, in 2007; First American Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., in 2005.

Here’s the 2010 Americans for the Arts top-10 list of companies that support the arts.

• Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.
• Capital Bank, Raleigh, N.C.
• Con Edison, New York
• Conoco Phillips, Houston
• Devon Energy Corp., Oklahoma City
• Halifax EMC, Enfield, N.C.
• M.C. Ginsberg Jewelers and Objects of Art, Iowa City, Iowa
• Northeast Utilities, Hartford, Conn.
• Portland General Electric, Portland, Ore.
• Strata-G Communications, Cincinnati -- David Ng


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