How the arts and humanities foster creative business

Last week, we also submitted this testimony from Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents. Here, he talks about how arts education fosters the kind of creativity he looks for in his employees. Read his testimony below!

Good Afternoon Council President Berliner and Members of the County Council:

My name is Gary Skulnik and I am the President of Clean Currents; a home-grown company that was developed, incubated, launched and now conducts business in Montgomery County, MD. As a business executive and partner of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, I am pleased to show my support today for the County Executive’s FY13 recommended budget for this worthy agency.

Clean Currents has had the good fortune to work with the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County in the Non Profit Energy Alliance, a creative partnership of the non profit sector, county government, and private business to provide clean energy to area non profits at rates that save them money, enabling them to focus more resources on meeting their mission. The Arts and Humanities Council was instrumental in making this happen. Without them, it would have gone nowhere.

Clean Currents is a different kind of business. We are a retail electricity supplier like many others in the region, but we are a certified B Corporation, a registered Benefit LLC in the state of Maryland, and of course our headquarters is certified green by Montgomery County. Our approach is to be a for-profit business that takes into account broader stakeholders, including our local community, our employees, and the planet.

Clean Currents has been fortunate to grow as a business, adding employees and expanding our presence in the county and beyond. When I look to bring people on board with a company like ours, I look to find people who are able to think from a broader perspective, who excel in communications, and who have a passion for positive change. Not surprisingly, I find that people with a background in the arts often make the best candidates for positions with Clean Currents, no matter what the role. Two of the best sales people we’ve hired, for example, have graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

Training in the arts, in all their various forms, is the best way to develop our young people in this county to be competitive in the work force. Clean Currents is not alone in our approach to business. More and more businesses are pushing the envelope of sustainability, creative marketing, and communications. People that come with training in the arts will be the best prepared to join these dynamic companies. Exposing people to the arts is an integral part of a job training and economic development plan.

I know that the county budget is lean, and there will likely be many cuts. But cutting the arts would be extremely short sighted, cutting our prospects of being more competitive in the future economy. Please support full funding for the Arts and Humanities Council.

Thank you.

Ask your Councilmember to support the FY13 arts and humanities budget! Click here to visit our Take Action page for resources and more information.

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