Art may “wash from the soul the dust of everyday life,” as artist Pablo Picasso once said. But it’s also good for business.
Americans are as engaged in artistic pursuits as ever as, according to a recent Ipsos poll on behalf of Americans for the Arts. It revealed that 72 percent of American adults say they attended arts and cultural events in the past year, People’s participation grew slightly from 68 percent in the organization’s benchmark 2015 survey. Respondents most attended living exhibits from zoos to gardens, followed by historic sites and musical performances.
Millennials outpace older generations in attending living exhibits, theater and dance performances, and visual arts and crafts shows. One area they do not; historical sites where Baby Boomers are more likely visitors.
People in the U.S. also are increasingly arts makers. About half of respondents take part in artistic activities, including painting, photography, sewing and playing a musical instrument.
One of the fastest-growing art forms is poetry, per the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts. It showed that over five years, adults reading poetry grew by 76 percent. Driving that growth are 18- to 24-year-olds, women and people of color. Meanwhile, brands from Apple to Samsung to Microsoft have built ad campaigns around rhymes and spoken word. Also, the rise in “InstaPoets” or poets who write and promote their work on Instagram, has fueled poetry’s rise by making it more accessible and hip.
The business case for artistic engagement
“Overall, participation, engagement and attendance of the arts is strong and probably getting stronger,” says Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy for Americans for the Arts. “There are a lot of ways the public is engaging in the arts. Conversely, the arts are making arts and culture more available to the public.”
These results are good not only for communities but for businesses looking to engage consumers and boost their employee creativity. “Savvy arts organizations have gotten good about understanding where people want to be and how they want to experience the arts,” Cohen adds. Seventy percent of respondents in the Ipsos survey say they’ve had artistic experiences in non-traditional settings.
Engagement beyond sponsorship and philanthropy
In 2018, businesses will lay out $1.03 billion in sponsorship spending for performing arts, orchestras and other art organizations, according to ESP Properties research. That is a 3.7 percent gain over 2017 figures, making it the largest year-over-year gain expected in more than a decade.
“Businesses are looking for ways to support the arts that also help them return bottom-line benefits,” Cohen says. “They’re looking to expand their brand and that may be a car company has its name over a museum exhibit.” There are other ways to connect, from employee engagement to community engagement, he says.
As companies offer volunteer days to employees to support nonprofits, the arts give cultural, social and educational benefits, Cohen says. Investing in the arts through corporate collections and memberships can boost employee creativity. More than half of the adults surveyed by Ipsos say their jobs need them to be creative. Six in 10 Americans say the more creative they are in their job, the more successful they are in the workplace.
The bottom line for arts and business
In the future, workers and consumers may need business to support the arts more if President Trump gets his way to cut arts organizations from the federal budget. In March, Congress nixed the Trump administration’s call to cleave federal agencies that support performing arts, public television, libraries and cultural and arts centers, by boosting federal spending for them. Perhaps it’s business that will need the arts even more.