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Business for the Arts of Broward Member Profile_12-2012
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Gale Butler, Vice President,
Corporate Affairs, AutoNation
By Samantha Rojas

1.   As a Business Person, what makes you passionate about the arts?

The excitement of having art all around us in museums, in public parks and lobbies of buildings adds to the charm and personality of a community. Whether it’s whimsical or classical, it brings a smile to the viewer’s face and lifts the spirits of those passing by. Art makes you feel something—joy, fun, happiness and even bewilderment at times—which is why I think art is an important component of the vitality and livability of a city, and why I love having it around. 

2.   How do you feel that arts and business should and do, intersect in general?

Art should be considered part of every building ‘s construction plans, every park’s design, and every sidewalk’s  and street ‘s upgrade.  It should never be just an afterthought if we can help it. The arts and business intersect where business men and women wish to measure growth in more than just dollars and sense, but in vitality, health and longevity.  Art showcases the pulse of a city.

3.   And in Broward County specifically?

Art can only enhance our natural beauty. We have year-round greenery, the beaches (and can we please build some jetties to collect sand so the beaches will replenish themselves? Jetties could be considered works of art can’t they? ), bridges, waterways…all can be made even more beautiful by the addition of artistic lighting. Landscaping is also a form of art and all our major roadways are having upgrades right now with new trees and flowers. An example of that is A1A and the south beach parking area.  When you are in the business of building cities, and contributing to its development, art has to be a core component. If it’s not, then you are not serious about it.

4.   Tell us about Your Business in Broward County, and how you see it growing and developing?

Thanks to the loosening of bank credit and pent up demand for the replenishment of vehicles following the recession, the automotive industry is leading the recovery. Our dealerships are shining examples of the recovery and we are optimistic for our future.

5.   What are ways you feel we can forge this relationship, between your business and the creative industries, on a continual basis?

AutoNation has long been a supporter of the arts from sponsoring exhibits at the Museum of Art│ Fort Lauderdale, now part of Nova SouthEastern University, to supporting the AutoNation Museum of Art Studio School to naming the AutoNation Box Office at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. We also believe in introducing children to the world of art through Young at Art Museum, Scholarships for the Arts as part of the Broward School System, support for school field trips to the Broward Center and the Museum of Art, etc. We have also held art exhibits in our dealerships as well as held fund raising events for arts organizations in our dealerships.

6.   What can we do; we – the local arts agency; we - the citizens?

Those who live and work in Greater Fort Lauderdale can continue to support the arts through donations, memberships in arts organizations or by attending exhibits and performances. Art appreciation is not always passive; it is nurtured by participation. Bring a Friend!

7.   How have the arts impacted your life, personally, and professionally? 

While I was born in Fort Lauderdale, I would only spend half my school year here and the rest of the time in New Jersey, 25 miles directly west of New York City. My father worked in advertising in New York and my mother had been a Rockette early on so all our family’s milestones were celebrated in New York City. “It’s your birthday! Let’s go to the city to Radio City Music Hall,” or a Broadway play or a museum or a concert. Along with millions of others who grew up outside of New York, we were indoctrinated early on to the fact that the arts were entertainment and fun and something you just did whenever and however you could! I think having been exposed to art early on has certainly helped me understand the importance of supporting the arts be it personally or through a company or foundation.

8.   How important do you think art and culture, as an interactive feature, is to a developing city?

Art and culture are why some people move to an area and also what keeps people living in an area. A vibrant cultural life is a draw for people looking to retire from areas in the north that have an excellent cultural life and it’s a draw for businesses looking to relocate when considering moving their people here from larger cities that have established arts communities. Culture must be developed along with physical buildings as part of the growth and vitality and attractiveness of an area.

9.   Additional Thoughts?

Bringing art classes and teachers back into the school system is crucial to creating future art aficionados and in growing local talent. It’s also important in keeping children who might otherwise drop out, in school. Often, a child who might be struggling in other areas, but who excels in playing an instrument, or dance or drawing will be able to feel successful and stay in school because he or she has a skill. It helps a child to think differently, and gives them the courage to step outside the box.

Broward County Cultural Division
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