"With the Government giving less to art and education, somebody's got to give more. And that somebody is America's corporations." - Chase Manhattan Bank

From the 2003 book "Privatising Culture: Corporate Art Intervention Since The 1980s"
by Chin-Tao Wu 
[hat tip to Sarah Cortell Vandersypen]

 

Commentary: Smart companies understand the value of philanthropy

Trevor Neilson, President of Global Philanthropy Group, HuffingtonPost.com, 3/28/12

On the New York social scene, philanthropy is the primary organizing force. Why is it that philanthropy is at the heart of so many gatherings? I think the answer tells us a lot about human nature, and a lot about how smart companies will deepen their relationship with their most important customers. Philanthropy feels good -- and it should. Our brains and our bodies feel good when we help other people -- it is a physiological fact. Being thanked for philanthropy also feels good -- and it should. When a philanthropist walks up on the stage at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and is applauded by 500 of their friends and colleagues for their work to make the community a better place, the chances of that philanthropist doing more of it increase. Even better, dozens of people in that room may think to themselves, "Hey, I'd like to be on that stage some day" and decide to get involved themselves. The same is true for companies. Smart companies are starting to understand that philanthropy is a core way of differentiating their brand from the competition. The data supports this. According to the excellent 2011 Cone/Echo Global Corporate Responsibility Study, 94% of consumers are likely to switch brands to one that supports a cause, if both brands are similar in price and quality. Companies around the world are now starting to see philanthropy and cause marketing as a core way of engaging their consumers and beating the competition. Corporate philanthropy is moving from being an optional, non-strategic corporate function to being a core part of many companies marketing strategies. As consumers become more sophisticated about philanthropy, they will demand to see impact. The company who can prove to consumers that its products are making a clear impact on the issues it chooses to focus on will deepen its relationship with consumers in an exciting way.

 

Related: In PA, an insurance co. embraces new "pARTnership Movement"

Joanne Riley, Americans for the Arts blog, 3/15/12

The new pARTnership Movement has really resonated with the Cultural Alliance of York County (PA). Though we solicit individuals now, we started, and mostly still are, a corporate campaign for the arts. Annually we raise $1.2 million dollars. More than 300 companies make that happen by contributing to a campaign for arts, history, and culture. That's an incredible number considering we are a town of 44,000 and a county of about 400,000. The founders of the Cultural Alliance were the heads of large corporations here. They supported the concept of a United Arts Fund and invested in it. We had success our first year (2000) and have continued to meet or exceed goal. The message that we clearly stated, from the beginning, is that the arts are good for business. Though our message was not so clearly articulated as the pARTnership Movement has been, the fact is we use those eight reasons to establish the arts' genuine ability to change our community. One company is the immediate and current supporter for all cultural agencies in York, and truly believes the concept of helping the community by partnering with the arts. They use their partnership with us to help recruit and retain employees. Glatfelter Insurance Group is one of the largest privately held insurance brokers in the US. They not only value the arts as a tool for human resources (very pragmatic), but also as a way to get their message across in engaging ways. Knowing that Glatfelter Insurance Company understood, at the deepest level, the arts' influence, helped lead others to follow. Even in times when corporate funding was reduced, the arts' reduced share always equaled the reduction among other nonprofits in York.

 

Commentary: What are ways corporations can engage meaningfully in the arts?

Sabrina Dupre, Director of Global Communications for Estee Lauder, Quora.com, 3/27/12

When it comes to corporate engagement in the arts -- whether as part of a marketing program or a much larger corporate responsibility platform -- I think it is most important to ask two questions before beginning any kind of art related partnership or sponsorship:

1. What is our purpose, as a brand or corporate entity, in supporting art? (i.e. Is it to "look cool" as a sponsor? Or to excite our consumers? Is it to boost our reputation with a certain audience? To decorate a product? To heal? To transform? To support individual artistic livelihoods?)
2. What does "art" mean to our brand/corporation? (i.e. Is it about design or decoration? Is it about provoking our customers? Is it about beauty? Is it a reflection of our brand's personality? Is it a means to inspire or educate? Is it something from long ago that hangs in a museum or is it the graffiti markings on an abandoned building?)

Once these answers are not only asked, but answered, it's then important to understand what's meaningful to my audience(s) [and] the audiences of the art organization or artist the brand/corporate is interested in partnering with, and then seeing where the overlap is. It is in the intersection -- where meaning overlaps for both entities -- that the power of the partnership lies. Moreover, it's in the intersection where both parties will achieve authenticity. There are a few examples I tend to cite when it comes to authentic corporate arts engagement. And I'd venture a guess that the question "What's in it for us?" was not at the top of the list when they started their programs. Check them out:

  • Puma's Puma.Creative Program In fact, Puma started two social networking sites just for artists to connect with each other: www.creativeafricanetwork.com and creativecaribbeannetwork.com
  • Levi's Workshop Series I love that Levi's created these public photography and printmaking studios--how fab, in this hyper-digitized world we're in, to get art back into the hands of people, and people to get back to using their hands to make art
  • Prada Transformer Project Prada continues to define "cool patronage."
  • BMW/Guggenheim Lab Less art and more designed focused, I think BMW has created something quite unique here with one of the most revered art institutions...better yet, they're getting audiences to provoke and to think.
  • Target's Arts+Culture Program I know, it's almost trite at this point, but I do believe they try to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to making art accessible, so it would be somewhat amiss on my part to leave them off of this list.

 

= = =

 

Commentary: Why 'year of corporate giving' to arts was never going to happen

Martin Vander Weyer, The Spectator magazine, 3/3/12

[UK] Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's declaration that 2011 would be 'the year of corporate giving' to the arts was never likely to be fulfilled, given how tough it is to stay in business these days. Trying to shift the onus on to companies to replace cuts in state arts funding was an obvious political manoeuvre, but it comes as no surprise that the total of corporate giving (according to the Arts & Business consultancy) is down 20% from its 2007 peak, to 134 million. That compares with a record 382 million from individuals -- a healthy 6% up on 2010 after two years of decline. If there's a surprise in these figures, it is that 30% of FTSE 100 companies still support the arts at all. As for major donors, most are international banks and another is BP: corporate sinners hoping to redeem their public profiles. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for sponsorship of the arts from every available source and have spent a good part of the past 20 years trying to raise it. But shareholders are right to expect a return on money given to the arts that might have been spent on machine tools. Long gone are the days of bosses' boxes at the opera as a standard perk and competitive status symbol. But those same bosses and shareholders as individuals have a duty of philanthropy which is an integral part of the capitalist deal: by all means reap the rewards of risk and responsibility, but share them around. Of course corporate sponsorship is to be welcomed, even from big oil and bad banks - and not sneered at as it is by the left-leaning arts establishment. But it will always fluctuate with profit cycles and guilty consciences. As state subsidy shrinks, the only path to sustainability for the arts is an embedded culture of individual giving. The business of business is business, so let's stop trying to pass the buck.

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