Art has always required support and the good artists and the lucky ones always found a way to receive it. The Church, the Medici’s and Corporation have used their support funds to promote styles and ideas they liked
The very first cooperate art collection dates back to 1472 and was founded by the Siena’s Monte Dei Paschi bank. Businesses have collected art when they felt it helps their image and they can afford it as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility Programs. We talk today of a full industry area of Business to Art and Art to Business. Collaboration with artists, art projects, and artistic grants have been on the palette for a while. But is it sustainable support overall?
Today there are more artists than supporters due to the democratization of art. The Pandemic on the one side has developed endless new platforms to meet artists and their work online. But in the sea of choices, getting noticed or support becomes increasingly more difficult, and more sophisticated skills are required to get it. As an artist one has not only to have the talent to perform but must become real businessmen and marketeer. For some, this is though no natural strength. How to solve this dilemma in the best way leaving fewer great talents on the road. In the 80-90s in Eastern Europe, visual artists moved to the advertising industry and turned their creative skills into easier sell products.
“Making money is art and working is the art and good business is the best art.” Andy Warhol.
Creating community-oriented programs like Art@Google (a project founded with ArtLifting, an online platform that helps artists living with homelessness or disability sell to a global audience), brands like Google are demonstrating a shift in nature corporate art. Beyond corporate collections, beyond breathing life into business environments, millennial-led businesses are beginning to show that art is an intrinsic part of who they are.
Corporate Social Responsibility
So here comes the question, how can we find ways to support artists and art in general in a sustainable and mutually beneficial manner, while helping the strategic development of both parties.
Classical CSR programs are a must at the biggest corporations, but the budgets are usually last on the list of marketing tools for many of them. It is a must to do it for the image, but many felt the impact is not so tangible like the good old TV Campaign of 3000 GRPs a year. If a CSR program was planned, supporting children, poor or environmental programs seemed more appealing for the big public, as art is a bit of a niche exercise.
So we are left with non-profit organizations and state organizations to grant support to the art world. For example, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts awarded 2020 $4 million to 47 organizations from 23 states to support their visual arts programs, exhibitions, and curatorial research. (https://warholfoundation.org/grant/overview.html)
The Creative Europe Programme of the EU will share more than €2.4 billion in calls for the period 2020-2027 (https://ec.europa.eu/culture/creative-europe)
Is this enough at all? Many dilemmas are on the decision-making list for both corporations and artists. Is a Christmas present to their partners more important or is better to donate the money to a charity?
Charities have not many options other than to beg for the money, promising positive image impact, which no one can measure in fact. How to resolve this challenge of short and long-term benefit needs?
Social Enterprises – The Way Ahead
Progressive founders and business leaders are trying to find a way to create purpose-led companies, and Non-profit organizations are trying to find a way to have sustainable incomes for their missions gave birth to the so-called social enterprises. These are organizations that apply commercial strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social, and environmental aspects. The Triple bottom line, well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for co-owners. Social enterprises are businesses created to further a social purpose in a financially sustainable way. Social enterprises can provide income generation opportunities that meet the basic needs of people who need support. They are sustainable and earned income from sales is reinvested in their mission.
A social enterprise can be more sustainable than a non-profit organization that may solely rely on grant money, donations, or state programs alone. As a for-profit model, you control the curriculum and funding of the program.
Having this new hybrid model, which I believe, will become a new standard for many companies in the future, we need to review again the relation between art and business. Finding the right symbiosis between doing good and making profits from any CSR program will lead to long-term satisfaction and fruitful collaboration.
At HINSA. we look at opportunities and solutions to support this symbiosis. Contact us if you want to understand how.
Anna Najdenova, Founder