“Art is not always about pretty things. It’s about who we are, what happened to us, and how our lives are affected.” – Elizabeth Broun
I’m a latecomer to the understanding of why the arts are so important to our communities and businesses. I haven’t always subscribed to the philosophy that “arts make a difference.” It wasn’t because I wasn’t well educated or that I was unappreciative. However, I definitely was underappreciative. It had more to do with my narrow worldview that business was hard-core, full of checks and balances that had more to do with financials than anything else. Art seemed to be intangible – nice to have, but not necessary. I could not have been more wrong.
When I was in high school there were three identifiable tracks: the athletes, the theater kids and the “burnouts.” I was fortunate that we all liked each other. We just didn’t socialize with each other much or attend the others’ functions. My experiences were mainly on the sports side of things. That’s what we did, that’s who we knew and that’s what ran our little, naive world.
Fast-forward to my experience as a mom. I was a parent of a fully engaged theater kid. Oh, the things I learned! The discipline it takes to put on a production and create the underappreciated and often unnoticed set design, the music, the costumes, and – every theater parent’s nightmare – the power tools!
But how does that relate to business? Theater kids make excellent employees. They are used to hard work, crazy deadlines, doing all kinds of odd projects to prepare. They are also incredibly competitive and are used to rejection. (They are also generally very dramatic and not afraid to show their feelings.) All of that aside, they learn how to creatively solve problems. I would say that applies to many areas of the arts.
Businesses must be fiscally responsible. Profitability is always a key indicator of a business’ health. However, art can be a key influencer and driver of many things.
“Ideas, whether artistic or entrepreneurial, are by nature, locked away in the human mind,” writes Peter Himmelman for Forbes, “It’s only through experimentation, creativity, and collaboration that they are able to be made manifest, and to address some aspect of human need. Not surprisingly, these are the very ingredients necessary in all of business and art. You wouldn’t be far off if you were to describe both the businessperson and the artist, as idea-revealers.”
I was fortunate. I was course-corrected right at the time I was queued up for various leadership roles. I learned what the artist brings to the business world and the benefit of tapping into the artist in all of us. My appreciation for what art encompasses has broadened, and I’ve come to understand how integral it is for businesses and communities to support the arts.
Pay attention to what Dayna Del Val has been doing through The Arts Partnership to support artists and tirelessly advocate for the arts in our community. Her passion and ability to recognize the connection between the arts and the economy is well-founded and supported through data. As we struggle through workforce issues and look for solutions to entice people to our area, Dayna talks about the misperception that “there is nothing to do here.” A robust arts community changes that view.
In the business of marketing and communications, the past few years have shifted from the strength of a product to the idea of “experiences.” No matter what business you are in or what you are selling, people are interested in the “experience” that surrounds it. Whether you own a restaurant or a boutique, or sell equipment, the things you do to shape and build experiences into your purchasing model matter. Art influences that in many ways. The more you can marry the two, the better results you will have.
An easy way to further your understanding of this topic is simply to pay attention. There are countless examples throughout our community to embrace. If you need ideas, there is a handy calendar of events on The Arts Partnership website.
Let’s continue to make room for the arts in our businesses and encourage businesses to support the arts. To keep the conversation going or for any questions, contact us!