Belfast Telegraph

Art and business can be more mutually beneficial

Culture and creativity should not be seen as 'nice to have'; they deliver real change in business in a sustainable, effective, efficient, inspirational and cost-effective way. They are assets to business - a resource and a tool for developing knowledge and other intangible assets, which differentiate a business and provide a unique edge to the operation.

The current economic situation, and the dramatic changes in the commercial landscape, reflect the constantly changing environment of the arts, as arts organisations find ways of developing and retaining their audience to ensure long-term survival.

The skills and techniques used by the arts sector can be effectively deployed in business - during a recession and beyond.

Managing 'human capital' is one of the key challenges faced by today's businesses.

Businesses need to know how best to encourage team working, manage change, retain talent and encourage reflection, imagination and engagement.

By gaining insight into, and having a thorough understanding of, how the arts stimulate transformation for optimal organisational and employee performance and deliver on a range of business imperatives, businesses can prosper.

Arts & Business creates commercial links to the arts, and advocates that commerce and culture have much to gain from working with each other and that Northern Ireland businesses are pro-active in securing their future.

Engagement, interaction and partnership with arts organisations can develop their ability to think outside the box and many businesses in Northern Ireland are already reaping the benefits of such partnerships.

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's is an extremely topical example of how business support of the arts is delivering substantial benefit for both partners. The Ulster Bank's title sponsorship has been directly responsible for both the short-term survival and long-term sustainability of the festival - but the bank's support is much more than just a financial commitment.

Ulster Bank has embedded the festival into its own business practices, looking at how a flagship arts sponsorship can have measurable and tangible impacts on their business bottom line. The power of cultural branding has increased visibility for the bank and offered it a holistic approach to an all Ireland sponsorship strategy that compliments its sponsorship of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival.

Additionally, the bank's sponsorship and huge in-kind support has increased the Festival's marketing and has helped to deliver record festival attendances in 2008.

Ulster Bank has also used this sponsorship to engage and motivate its staff by enabling them to be arts ambassadors, marketing, promoting and even reviewing festival events. They are also able to deliver on their corporate social responsibility agenda through the community ticket scheme, offering 1,000 tickets to more than 50 community groups, opening up the festival to many who may not otherwise have experienced it.

This is just one example of how business in Northern Ireland is delivering on real business challenges and objectives; Arts & Business has many more.

At Arts & Business we work to spark and inspire new partnerships, providing the expertise and insight for these partnerships to prosper. We would love to talk to you and explore how partnering with the arts may unlock many innovative opportunities and solutions to challenges that your business may be facing at this time.