Monday, 6 May 2013

Building a Bridge Between Business and the Arts

I love the caption for this photo of Ted Rogers on Google Images:  Cellular Guru.

I have had the pleasure of working in both the business and arts sectors.  Some of the most creative people that I have worked with were not artists but business folk.  I am thinking particularly of the late Ted Rogers, whom I admired.  He was a real pioneer with a sense of adventure, risk taking and long range thinking that I have not seen in many quarters.  He had the ability to make lots of things, like the evolution of technology or the cycles of the economy, make sense to me with only a sentence.  What Ted Rogers also understood superbly was the relationship between business and the community it served.  There is more than one way to make your client happy and loyal– and giving to the arts is one way of doing that.

The reason why the relationship between the arts or culture and the business world is on my mind is that I saw, about ten days ago, a posting for the CEO position of the Business and Arts NL.  Et voil√•:

The arts in Newfoundland and Labrador are thriving, and the business community is supporting the arts at unprecedented levels. Business and Arts NL is a new organization whose aim is to build on this activity and expand the collaboration between arts organizations and business partners.

Business and Arts NL is looking for a Chief Executive Officer.  Reporting to a Board of Directors led by members of the business community, and including representation from Memorial University and cross-sectoral arts organizations, the CEO will initially focus attention on developing a three year operating plan, membership development and program development. The initial period of employment is three years.

What splendid news! Whether it is in the arts or business community or the minds' of the general public, it is characteristic to see the two communities as opposites or mutually exclusive.  I believe this is a misconception and despite the characterization of art as a vocation and business as profit driven there is much that unites the two.  Core values, standards of excellence, audience development and the need for communication are just a few of the things that could form a bridge or partnership between the two communities.

 Forging a partnership between the arts and business communities within this province is a key activity in the well being of Newfoundland and Labrador, where our cultural identity of independence and resourcefulness is reflected in both communities.  I wish Business and Arts NL every success in this endeavour.

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