Young Professionals Put Heads Together for the Arts

by Katie Wilde

 

It's well known that our seniors are some of the biggest supporters of the arts - as attendees, business sponsors, volunteers, donors and advocates. But how do we ensure that support perpetuates throughout many generations to come? Business for the Arts is hard at work developing young professionals into that next generation of steadfast supporters. More than that, they're harnessing their ideas and perspectives to deal with a changing landscape of arts participation and consumption.

The annual summit brings young professionals, arts leaders and innovators, and artScene volunteers from across Canada gather to brainstorm ideas that can improve how business and the arts connect in their communities. Having put their heads together over the challenges and successes facing the arts sector in their cities, they bring the findings from the summit back home.

In 2014 they brought together forty leaders from across the country to discuss potential solutions to six issues that had been identified around next generation engagement in the arts.

 

1. Young professionals are too busy to engage in the arts

2. Young professionals find the arts intimidating

3. Young professionals spend time engaging on other social issues

4. The private sector does not value the arts and does not support it

5. Individuals/private sector donate to other causes

6. Young professionals do not have enough money

 

Some of the proposed solutions are briefly summarized below, but I encourage you to read the full report here: http://www.businessforthearts.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/RBC-Young-Leaders-Summit-Report.pdf Rest assured, it has pictures, graphs, stats, and plain English.

 

1. Young professionals are too busy to engage in the arts


Thoughts from the group included "Too busy" is an excuse. Creative solutions proposed included "leveraging corporate sponsorship to initiate an employee event around a ticketed performance their art partner is putting on", "Bring-a-Buddy Discounts" to expand audiences, and offering childcare.

 

2. Young professionals find the arts intimidating

They identified the issue that the "Perception of ‘art’ vs. ‘arts’ is different. People value ‘art’ but ‘arts’ are intimidating." Proposed solutions included:

  • "Make the arts more inviting by rethinking how to engage young people (appropriate style/ allow young people to create their content)
  • Connect different sectors, i.e. have an artist paint the car at a car show
  • Educate audiences on how to act in certain arts situations (theatre, symphony)"

 

3. Young professionals spend time engaging on other social issues

The drastic cuts to arts funding in 1988 was suggested as a factor in determining the priorities (sports and business) and later social engagement of generations X and Y.

Proposed solutions included:

  • "Create an arts value card that you receive when you volunteer and you can redeem it for certain arts experiences
  • Let companies’ HR departments (private/public/non-profit) value volunteering when recruiting and promoting
  • Make volunteering for the arts more fun than volunteering for other sectors
  • People need to see value from an early age
  • In Europe many arts experiences, including museums and galleries, are free, it should be the case for Canada"

 

4. The private sector does not value the arts and does not support it

"Arts is seen as a long-term investment and businesses want quick return or see immediate results which is very difficult for the cultural sector to produce" Proposed solutions included:

  • "Engage business without numbers – convince and show them the story behind the project to make arts easy to relate to on a level that is beyond what numbers can do
  • Stop competing against other sectors like health, at-risk youth or sports and work alongside those causes to show they can have a bigger impact when partnered together
  • Provide success stories or reports of past partnerships as examples of when the private sector got involved – businesses are more willing to invest when something similar to the proposed project has worked well
  • Convince businesses that what they are investing in is people and not just the project/arts as a general idea"

 

5. Individuals/private sector donate to other causes

Elitist Perception

"There is an issue of perception when it comes to philanthropy – arts are not needed and

when you donate to the arts, your money is going to an elite group. Arts is seen as a luxury,

people want to give to tangible, more obvious causes." The group also identified issues with demonstrating the value that arts can contribute to the personal growth of individuals and families. Proposed solutions included:

  • "We need to rebrand the value proposition of donation to the arts and make it tangible. Relating the arts to health, rehabilitation, youth, mental health, environment, etc., we demonstrate the instrumental social value of the arts.
  • Arts Organizations - Help build their capacity to educate and market the value of donating to the arts, through BftA. Allow them to be specific and tell their story, show the real impact, so YPs can see that art = change.
  • Provide Tangible Results
  • Kids who have music lessons have higher test scores
  • People involved in the arts have increased productivity
  • Arts participants make better leaders
  • Make time for arts, it relieves stress"

 

6. Young professionals do not have enough money

Students have little money or incentive to participate outside school, young professionals choose not to or aren't sure how to participate in the arts, and families can find it hard to get to or fit in at an event, especially those in the suburbs with young children. Proposed solutions included:

  • employers offering arts-based perks and group events
  • students afforded the opportunity to work for tickets, or get notifications on their phone of rush/discount tickets
  • outdoor and family-friendly activities for parents and kids

 

See the full report on the 2014 summit: http://www.businessforthearts.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/RBC-Young-Leaders-Summit-Report.pdf

And stay tuned for the 2015 report from the most recent summit which was held this past November. They brought together 150 of Canada's leading young professionals this time to meet in Montreal and focus on plans for Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017. The report isn't yet available, but ideas were flying back and forth on Twitter from attendees and long-distance followers, and give a sense of what's to come.

 

Sign up for e-news

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
 
city-of-guelph
ontario-arts-council
GCF logo horiz BW