Today, the world is still gripped with uncertainty and melancholy when it comes to the economy. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930's has the financial world appeared so fragile, yet this monetary catastrophe has the possibility to throw up a wealth of opportunities, particularly in the field of arts funding. It has long been a fact that business and the arts go hand-in-hand, for decades cultural projects have achieved success through the patronage of the banks and businesses.
As far back as the 19th Century, when the industrial revolution created a new sphere of influence, which superseded the influence of traditional nobility, businessmen have offered financial support to fledgling creatives. However, unlike in previous decades, globalism and trans-national cooperation has now come into its own, with global companies reaching out on a much larger scale, from West to East and vice-versa.
Examples of arts and business cooperation can now be seen in many of the world's biggest companies, who lead the way in shaping the cultural landscape, through innovative schemes and funding networks. In the last five years Deutsche Bank has expanded into this field with vigour, and now supports a wealth of cultural activities across Europe, particularly in regards to young people, they have also created overarching bonds with other companies, thus enhancing arts opportunities further. In India, DSC Limited, which is one of the country's fastest growing infrastructure companies, has taken up the baton of arts support and is excelling in this field, being the principal sponsor of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
In Britain, governmental and public funding structures have weakened to such a degree, that they can no longer be a reliable source for arts professionals, so this is the moment when businesses must step in and weather the storm. However, the need for businesses to distinguish themselves as a viable option requires thought and planning, along with strict determination to monopolise the field. This can be achieved by adopting a culture of change and incorporating new ways of thinking. Businesses must also engage in fostering mutual creativity with arts professionals, so a course of mutual enrichment can begin.
In relation to business creativity, Jean-Claude Larréché of INSEAD Knowledge, noted Richard Branson's speech at the World Knowledge Forum in Seoul, South Korea, where he said "There are enormous opportunities when there is a crisis. In a situation like this, it's absolutely essential to conserve cash. I think companies that do have cash owe it to their country and the people in the company to actually invest that cash in order to grow out of the crises." The foundation of his speech was that creative entrepreneurs are better equipped to survive the financial crises.
The independent research body Arts & Business has set about evaluating and collating the prospects of greater business and arts collaboration. Its remit is to raise the bar in corporate and private sponsorship, help arts professionals to develop skills in approaching businesses and introduce arts professionals to businesses. Its principal members include British Petroleum, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Japan Tobacco International and GlaxoSmithKline, amongst others.
In their 2010 report titled Private Sector Policy for the Arts, Chief Executive of Arts & Business, Colin Tweedy wrote - "This private sector policy is also a call to action for businesses, their employees and individuals alike - for sponsorship and philanthropy to work hand-in-hand for the benefit of the arts and wider society. We all need their skills and finance, but also their hearts and minds."
Today, more than ever, businesses need to develop a common purpose when it comes to arts funding, because if business is the bedrock of civilisation, then the arts are the fruits of civilisation, and they must be nurtured.