Arts & Business: creating partnerships for the future

April 01, 1999

So what is in a name?

The latest figures show that business investment in arts organisations and museums across the UK has risen again. For the first time such investment has topped £100 million, rising 20% to £115 million.


We have not taken sponsorship out of our title to marginalise sponsorship, but to emphasise the widening and deepening of the partnership between arts and business.


Our objective is to ensure that arts organisations and businesses work together on effective projects that pay benefits over the long term. Just as short-term advertising is often disappointing, one-off sponsorships often leave a bad taste in the mouth. We need to make the arts relevant to contacts across a business, embedding creativity into the heart of business culture, and this is where our mission is expanding.


Through the Placement Scheme and NatWest Board Bank, we have helped an army of over 1,000 business professionals to support arts organisations by donating their skills and experience to work free of charge on management projects. More recently, we have developed the programme Arts@Work, projects that use the skills, experience and creativity of arts organisations to help management development and training programmes within companies.


The obvious example of this is Allied Domecq and its relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The bedrock of the partnership is traditional sponsorship and RSC performances in the UK and abroad are clearly branded with the Allied Domecq name. But the business also discovered that it could tap the talents of the artists in far more creative ways.


As well as obvious extensions, such as performances in the company’s offices and factories, Allied Domecq has begun to explore ways of integrating the RSC into its business process. Using actors to explore management issues and map out future strategies for the company, Allied Domecq is able to visualise scenarios in ways that are far more vivid than written reports or discussions. Another business, J Sainsbury, commissioned a group of actors to work with their buyers on understanding the millennium bug.


So is this the future of partnerships between business and the arts? Well, we believe it is, and we are embarking on a journey to develop a sustainable future for such partnerships. Part of this journey is a change in the name of our own organisation. Since March, when we became Arts & Business, we refocused our work to show every level of business, from the human resources department, corporate strategy, marketing to the chief executives themselves, that the arts can have a profound effect on business.


This is why we have become Arts & Business. We are the “and” between the arts and business.


Colin Tweedy is chief executive of Arts & Business and can be contacted on 0171 378 8143 (


Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 45 – April, 1999