Belfast Telegraph

Business Soapbox: Mary Trainor-Nagele

Investment in the arts creates wealth, adds to our creative economy and plays a part in social inclusion

There is huge value in working with the arts and the economic arguments for investing in the arts are strong. Arts & Business works with many leading Northern Ireland businesses that partner and invest in the arts for sound business reasons, but also because they see the broader benefits to our creative economy. The arts touch so many areas of our lives. The arts can uplift us, enrich us, bring people together, ultimately are a measure of the society in which we live.

From an economic perspective, investment in a vibrant cultural sector makes sense - our artists and rich cultural sector are key to our creative industries which are fast becoming one of the main sources of our competitive strength, employing over 33,000 people and generating £582m annually to the region's economy.

Many Northern Ireland businesses already see how the partnership with the arts is delivering on a range of challenges. Whether it is staff engagement, brand awareness, creating and maintaining a productive workforce or engaging with communities, arts are delivering solutions.

In a competitive international marketplace, business leaders also cite the presence of a rich cultural environment as one of the major incentives for locating their businesses. The arts are key to creating that environment and making Northern Ireland a location of choice for investors. Our creative offering is also the reason why 40% of tourists say they come to Northern Ireland - that's a quarter of a million visitors every year, spending their money in local businesses: our shops, bars restaurants and hotels.

So we would hope that public and private investment in the arts will continue not only because it creates wealth and adds to our creative economy, but because it also plays a part in social inclusion, education, self confidence and the overall wellbeing of the communities in which we live and work.

Mary Trainor-Nagele is director of Arts & Business Northern Ireland