How art can help yield long-term returns in business

Art can help inspire new ways of thinking and prompt creative ways of solving complex business challenges

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The Covid-19 pandemic has financially strained businesses around the world and many are cutting back on expenses.

Although tightening belts is an effective strategy when times are tough, there are other pressing issues that organisations are facing.

Business leaders must now navigate economic landscapes where customers look at an organisation’s contribution to society through its corporate social responsibility projects, as well as the products and services they offer.

Nearly 88 per cent of consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports social and environmental causes, a 2017 study carried out by Cone Communications on corporate social responsibility in the US found.

Another survey by the organisation in 2016 showed that 64 per cent of millennials look at a company’s commitment to society and the environment when deciding where to work.

With more customers demanding organisations to be more socially and environmentally responsible, supporting artists and local art movements, helps in positioning organisations to meet these requirements.

One way to do that is by purchasing works by local artists and displaying them in the company, or by sponsoring art events that help raise awareness about local artists. Another way is to organise art workshops by local artists to help spark employees’ creativity, while financially supporting the workshop facilitators.

Whether it is by displaying works of art made by members of the local community, or providing museum and art exhibition tickets to employees, or sponsoring a local art event, investing in art makes business sense.

Investments in art may not yield a quick and direct measurable return on investment but research shows that it provides solid advantages that yield returns in the long run.

Reading or seeing works of art, and reflecting on them briefly enhances creative thinking and innovation, according to a study published in the Journal of Business Research.

“If you enrich a space people feel much happier and work better; a very good way of doing this is by using art,” Dr Craig Knight who studied the psychology of work environments for over 16 years, wrote in an article published in The Guardian.

Many global businesses already appreciate the value that art brings to their organisation and to the community.

Deutsche Bank has the world’s largest collection of corporate art with more than 60,000 artworks in 40 countries.

UBS Group also has a collection of 35,000 works from young artists, from the countries where the bank operates — a great philanthropic touch.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt from my journey of appreciating art, it is that it always helps us look at things from a different point of view and think outside the box, while uniting people.

When organisations incorporate art in their corporate culture, and provide their employees with the opportunity to visit museums and art events, it helps to bring employees closer through shared experiences and encourages them to view matters differently and ultimately come up with creative solutions to complex business challenges.

As we navigate new business landscapes in a post-Covid world, we need art to help inspire new ways of thinking.

Art provides an organisation with a cultural dimension and that can enhance its brand image and yield returns in the long run.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: May 16, 2022, 6:00 AM