Nation Builder Top Tip: Consider investing in art initiatives
By Karen Johnson, part of the Nation Builder collaborative network www.proudnationbuilder.co.za
South Africa has a vibrant and active arts and culture community, deserved of some CSI support whether it be sponsorship, donation or developmental.
The role of Arts and Culture cannot be underestimated: it brings people together, allows us to celebrate our differences and creates understanding and tolerance. It maps our past and often voices our current reality in a manner that makes people listen.
Supporting the Arts may seem a less viable option than Education (for instance). Yet, for reasons already stated and that it offers employment and opportunities for many people without access to other income, a sound CSI investment in the Arts can deliver some worthy results. Investing in the Arts can also be a rewarding and fun exercise, with lots of energy and passion. It is a great opportunity to gain access to a community and connect on a different level.
Here are some things to consider when investing in the Arts:
Be sure of your objectives for investing in the Arts. Are you sponsoring an event (concert/museum etc.) for publicity sake? In which case, you need to ensure an excellent communication and PR strategy is developed with your marketing department. Or are you investing in grassroots level organisations with the objective of developing skills, locating talent or bringing communities together? This requires a different commitment from your company.
Treat all investment in the Arts with the same professionalism and business acumen as you would other CSI projects. You may encounter big personalities as art can be a personal and sensitive issue. It is best to have a solid strategy and plan, with set objectives that have been agreed upon by all stakeholders upfront. Create a clear sense of purpose and structured milestones along the way.
Don’t underestimate the time and commitment it takes when supporting the Arts, whether it be an event or ongoing project. The demands are often high and costly, for example transport of a drama group to different competitions and venues, or hosting a concert or festival. The latter would require many stakeholders and much organisation; remember it’s your brand on the line.
If you use local artists to promote your business or CSI programme, be sure to offer a professional agreement and pay market related prices for services, but demand the same level of professionalism from them too.
Art is a great way for your business to build relationships within a community. It creates excitement and a way of bringing your CSI to a personal level. Use these opportunities to make a difference. Consider ways to show off local talent at community level as well as on a broader platform. For example, if you are sponsoring a band, let them perform at the community hall on occasion, help them create hype and a following so that when they win a competition there is community support.
Understand the role of Art in society. Art education helps children develop skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, and teaches them discipline and the meaning of commitment. For many it shapes their identity.
Show commitment. A committed donor to an Arts project is sometimes the glue that holds it together when other socio-economic forces pull the people involved in another direction. The value of this cannot be underestimated.
- Investigate other projects and look for ways to combine forces, not in competition with each other, but for the betterment of Art as a whole.