More and more CEOs are looking at the arts to enhance employee engagement. Business professionals who serve on boards or volunteer in the arts learn to be innovators from going behind the scenes and working directly with artists.
Kaufman Rossin, one of the largest independent accounting firms in Florida and the Southeastern United States, recognizes the
importance of community engagement. So much so, it is one of the four pillars of their business. Kaufman Rossin founders, Jim Kaufman and Jay Rossin, recognized the importance of social responsibility, and their employee-focused philosophy is a winning recipe that encourages their executives and staff to get involved in the community. The firm has been named a “Best Place to Work” several times in local and national competitions. Through its many partnerships, Kaufman Rossin has board members and volunteers involved in dozens of arts organizations. The firm’s commitment to community engagement entails that many of its partners and professional staff contribute substantial time to causes they believe in. Although the company provides financial support to several arts groups, its more significant contributions involve talented professionals sharing their skills and resources with the groups they support.
We had the opportunity to interview two professionals from Kaufman Rossin to get more insight about the firm’s unique involvement with the cultural community. Raul A. Garcia, CPA, a Financial Services Principal, and Lisa Cawley Ruiz, a Brand Journalist in the Marketing Department, joined us to talk about how the arts are an important component of the firm’s community outreach.
ABC- What do you think makes a vibrant community and what role do the arts play?
RG: Arts and culture have an enormous economic impact and positively enhance the image of Miami. Miami’s cultural community provides that space where your spirit is lifted. The arts provide encounters that open your eyes to the world and to different cultures and people. My most memorable arts experiences made me think, share and grow. In a multi-cultural community such as Miami, the arts provide a chance for people from different ethnic backgrounds to learn about each other. You do not need to speak the same language to enjoy music or appreciate a painting. The arts are an important bridge in Miami. We have become a global city, the Gateway to Latin America, and the arts have played a big role in that transformation. I work with the Miami chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which is opening its new Center for Architecture and Design in a historic building downtown. They will join a growing and impressive cultural district that includes the new Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, YoungArts, DWNTWN ArtHouse, HistoryMiami and numerous new galleries and arts venues. The corporate community has played an important role in sponsoring, stimulating and fostering the arts as a catalyst for growth and improvement.
LR: Diversity is so much more than demographics. Being a truly diverse, culturally rich city, includes offering a variety of experiences for residents and visitors to engage in. Miami’s arts community has something for everyone. From the grass roots, publicly accessible street art in Wynwood to the world class orchestral performances at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, it’s easy to connect with the arts in this city. And because so many of our professionals at Kaufman Rossin are involved with arts groups, we are even more aware of all of the exciting concerts, gallery openings, festivals and performances that are happening here.
ABC - What inspires businesses to partner with the arts?
RG: Business is interested in the bottom line. Supporting the arts is not only fulfilling but also, in a way, self-serving. The arts enhance our quality of life, which brings more tourists and more business. Look at downtown Miami as an example. The area is in the middle of a real estate boom. The downtown establishment has embraced the arts as an essential part of the mix. Downtown business owners, developers and tourism executives are actively recruiting artists and arts venues to enhance Miami’s profile as an arts center. This is a selling point for businesses as they hire young associates and for landlords looking for tenants and buyers. The arts provide advantages to all the companies in the area. A strong cultural community is good for business.
LR: In our case, corporate support comes from the top down. The founders of Kaufman Rossin started with a vision to create a company that would make a difference, and so the firm encourages us to find a cause we are passionate about and get involved. Social responsibility is one of the core values of the firm. Our professionals serve on more than 70 boards and are involved in close to 200 organizations, ranging from small, grass roots groups to large, institutional organizations. Every year the firm invites non-profit leaders from around South Florida to our annual Toast to Non-Profits event in recognition of the important work they do for the community. The event also provides an opportunity for the firm’s associates to meet civic leaders and connect with groups that interest them. Community involvement plays an integral role in Kaufman Rossin’s culture, and the firm takes pride in its employees’ commitment to supporting civic, arts, health and other non-profit organizations.
ABC - What arts groups are you involved with and why?
RG: I am on the board and immediate past chair of the Arts & Business Council because I believe in the value of promoting and growing the partnership between the corporate and cultural communities in Miami-Dade. I love the goal of the Arts & Business Council to encourage all business professionals to live creatively. I appreciate that Kaufman Rossin encourages me to be involved and give back. As a partner in the firm and because of my relationship with the arts, I encourage our young associates to volunteer in the arts and share their skills with non-profits. I am incoming Chair of the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, which raises funding for programs in park facilities. Many of the offerings include the arts. Another area that I am especially interested in is exposing children to the arts. Studies have shown that children involved in the arts do better in their core subjects and learn to become creative thinkers. Creativity will be one of the most important job traits in the next decade and beyond.
LR: I am on the board of the Bakehouse Art Complex, a nonprofit organization housed in a converted bakery building in Wynwood that features affordable artist studios, galleries, shared workshop spaces and wonderful cultural events. I first attended an event there a few years ago and loved the unique vibe and intimate setting. Unlike in a typical gallery, at the Bakehouse, you can interact with artists one-on-one, watch them work in their studios and learn about their creative process. With nearly 70 juried artists in residence, there is a broad range of artistic styles and mediums. I enjoy being a part of a grass roots organization that has grown tremendously over the years, and I’ve learned so much serving on this board that I can apply not only in my work at Kaufman Rossin, by also in my personal life. Serving on a board requires a substantial investment of time and resources, but what you receive in return is invaluable. The amazing artists and board members I work with inspire me every day.
ABC – What benefits do you and your firm receive from your partnerships with the arts?
RG: There are many tangible benefits from partnerships such as business development and professional outreach. I like to think that accounting is a creative industry. Aside from the traditional number crunching, accountants are experts at thinking outside the box for innovative solutions. The arts foster and nurture the creativity we all possess. Community involvement has introduced me to interesting people, and many of these introductions have led to new clients and business. My board participation has provided me with opportunities to meet with elected officials to advocate for funding for the arts. This not only is good for business, but the advocacy has also provided me with a new appreciation for the democratic process and the importance of letting our representatives know what is important to their constituents.
LR: There are definitely many tangible benefits from these partnerships – and intangible ones as well. For example, Kaufman Rossin benefits from increased brand awareness through the participation of our professionals, which shows our investment in the community. Our involvement helps our professionals build new networks and connect with business leaders and also provides opportunities for them and their families to experience the arts. Professionals from our firm are involved with dozens of arts organizations in the community, including the Florida Grand Opera, Locust Projects, Arts for Learning, The Rhythm Foundation, Boca Museum of Art, Miami Beach Film Society, and Young at Art Museum. Kaufman Rossin is also proud to be one of the longest running supporters of WLRN 91.3 FM, our local national public radio station. This partnership is a win-win for the firm and the organization. Our brand is showcased to business and community leaders who listen to the station we support, and new critical thought programming like “The Sunshine Economy” is made possible by our sponsorship.