Arts & Business regional manager for Cornwall, Kirsten Whiting, explains how sponsoring the arts can significantly boost your public and commercial profile.
If you are in business the chances are you have been asked at some point for sponsorship. Depending on the size and ‘visibility’ of your company you may be asked on a pretty regular basis.
The question is, what do you do when one of these requests hits your desk? Do you a) raise your eyes to heaven, say “tcha – another begging letter” and chuck it in the recycling bin, or b) see it as a potential golden opportunity? I’m guessing for most people it’s the first one, right?
Here’s some news. Engaging with the arts and culture can seriously boost your bottom line. An effective sponsorship can go a long way to raising brand awareness, reaching a target market, enhancing your company’s image, providing corporate hospitality opportunities, developing community links, providing PR opportunities and making your staff happy… and that’s just a few of the benefits!
Arts & Business has been the interface between the commercial and cultural sectors for over 30 years, as an agency which creates partnerships between arts organisations and businesses. We connect companies and individuals to cultural organisations and provide the expertise for them to prosper together.
One of the more unusual sponsorships that we have been involved with in Cornwall in recent years was collaboration between Motionhouse Dance Theatre, Watergate Bay and the Extreme Academy, and Acland Plant Hire, called Road to the Beach.
The performance finale, ‘Machine Dance’, featured Motionhouse professionals dancing with four expertly driven JCBs which Acland Plant Hire provided as sponsorship in kind. For Acland’s staff, whose skilled work is often carried out in unseen isolation, it was a unique opportunity to demonstrate their talents to friends and family – and also, thanks to the publicity generated, to potential clients of the firm.
Over recent years, businesses have come to realise the importance of being seen as socially responsible, which can have a positive effect on the way they are perceived by customers, staff, stakeholders and the communities in which they operate. And for this reason, many companies have developed a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda.
Sponsorship of and engagement with the arts can help deliver solutions in a number of CSR areas, from supplier relations and staff development, to volunteering and community investment.
One of our business members and a company which has become well-known for sponsoring the arts in Cornwall is Midas Construction. Its business development manager, Martin Walton, explains: “As a major employer in Cornwall, we feel that supporting the arts not only enhances our brand but also helps us to reach out to a far greater audience.
“This not only benefits our people in their development, but also by engaging with the arts it has helped us to hopefully kick start the careers of some amazingly talented artists in Cornwall through The Midas Award.
“This Award was developed in partnership with the University College Falmouth and provides the winner with a bursary for free studio space for a year and their own show at a commercial gallery, this year at the Millennium Gallery in St Ives.”
Truro-based solicitor Foot Anstey has recently engaged in a partnership with the Royal Cornwall Museum. Partner, Toby Claridge, says: ‘’At Foot Anstey we believe our commitment to local communities can benefit people and organisations in many different ways and at the cornerstone of this lies young people.
“It was this vision and desire to improve the prospects for young people that lead to our partnership with The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. A partnership with the arts, we believe can further the cultural outlook of young people and develop their skills and passion for learning. In this we can see real benefits for businesses that are looking for young people that could become leaders of the future.”
For more and more businesses, human capital is the single most important resource. We expect employees to think about how they can contribute to maintaining a competitive edge within the marketplace. The arts offer one of the most dynamic ways to encourage people to think and behave differently.
Arts & Business is a strong advocate of using arts and creativity to attract, retain and motivate staff – all of which aids productivity. Bringing creativity into the workplace needn’t be an expensive undertaking either, it just needs to well thought out and have the buy-in of your team. Something as simple as starting a book club, getting staff members to choose art for your office walls or a trip to the theatre can all achieve a high score on the staff happiness barometer.
Commenting on Arts & Business’ ‘visual’ scheme which puts art in the workplace, Michael Bothamley, the regional senior partner of Beachcroft solicitors which has a Visual exhibition in their offices, says: “Involving staff members in the selection process has helped to engage and motivate our employees. The exhibition will not only help showcase the work of talented local artists but provide a creative point for both visiting clients and our employees.”
Our own research has shown that there is a thirst for visual art in the workplace among employers and employees. More than three quarters of workers would prefer to work in an environment where there is art on the walls, and in turn successful companies are more likely to invest in visual art than unsuccessful ones.
So the next time you receive a letter asking for sponsorship, stop and ask yourself this: can you afford NOT to?