About 2018-09-06T16:50:54+00:00

Lending expertise.
Providing Support.
Facilitating Partnerships.



The mission of the Arts & Business Council of Chicago (A&BC) is to strengthen non-profit arts organizations by bringing resources and expertise to the sector through:

  • Consulting provided by highly qualified business professionals,
  • Training in all aspects of management and board functions,
  • Research in leading and emerging issues,
  • Relationships that bridge the arts community and businesses.



Arts & Business Council of Chicago is established as Business Volunteers for the Arts®.  Since its founding, A&BC has trained and placed more than 1,250 business volunteers on management consulting projects for nonprofit arts groups over the past 24 years.


Launches the popular Arts & Business Forums, presenting thought-leaders who address topics of mutual interest to the arts and business sectors.  The format brings hundreds of arts and business leaders together to share ideas, network, and form partnerships.


An annual awards program is initiated. The ABBYs celebrate extraordinary leaders who work behind the scenes in the arts, including outstanding arts managers, business volunteers, board members, and arts and business partnerships.


Business Volunteers for the Arts changes its name to the Arts & Business Council of Chicago to more accurately reflect the broadened scope of its mission.


Pioneers the Arts Marketing Program, which includes an Advanced Training and Granting Program for arts marketing professionals, produces several seminal research studies, and launches artsmarketing.org. The program is adopted nationally in 1998 as the National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) of the Arts & Business Council Inc., and is replicated in 14 cities throughout the U.S.


Launches an annual workshop series: “Business Essentials for the Arts.” The series is expanded in 1998 and again in 2003 to include board-related and general management topics for non-profit arts management staff and their boards.


Launches On BOARD®, an annual training and placement program for business professionals interested in serving on the boards of non-profit arts groups. Since that time, more than 170 business professionals have been trained and placed on boards of all sizes and disciplines.


Develops an organizational assessment tool, smARTscope®, to analyze and measure the management capacity of arts organizations. smARTscope has evolved into an effective online planning tool, helping arts organizations avoid pitfalls and use their limited resources strategically.


Pilots the E-Coaching Initiative, a project in which select arts groups test e-mail marketing strategies as a means of building and diversifying arts audiences. This initiative later develops into a comprehensive E-Commerce Incubator, incorporating fundamental principles of market research and online sales, along with e-mail marketing.


The Arts & Business Council of Chicago’s national affiliate, the Arts & Business Council, Inc., merges with Americans for the Arts to more effectively increase private-sector support for the arts in America.


For Chicago Community Trust’s SMART Start initiative, oversees full-scale management assessments of 41 arts organizations utilizing smARTscope, A&BC’s online assessment tool. Participating organizations developed strategic plans based on the findings, and implements plans accordingly.


The three-year initiative, IMPACT, was launched to help increase the diversity on the boards of Chicago’s largest cultural institutions. A team of experienced professional volunteers formed Board Development Consulting, to provide coaching and training for board leadership of arts groups. And A&BC developed for its website smARTstart, a compendium of available on-line resources for use by emerging arts organizations.


A&BC celebrated its 25th year of serving Chicago’s arts and business sectors. During that quarter-century, A&BC has trained and placed more than 1,250 business volunteers on management consulting projects for hundreds of nonprofit arts groups. And, during that time, more than 200 business professionals have been trained and placed on dozens of arts boards representing organizations of all sizes and artistic disciplines.


Launched A&BC’s Art Night series as a way to bring together BVA consultants, On BOARD alumni, A&BC board members and staff to celebrate and showcase A&BC’s clients.


Reframed Board Development Consulting (BDC) as Board Consulting to better reflect the environment and the need in the community.


Arts & Business Council of Chicago (A&BC) celebrated its 30th year of serving the Chicago-area arts community with passion, innovation and determination.