Why corporations support art


Arts Correspondent
Corporations have been associating themselves with the arts industry as they can achieve one or more of their corporate social responsibility objectives by investing in the arts.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an initiative by an organisation used to take responsibility of the company’s effects on environmental and social well-being. An organisation’s support of art can project a good image of the organisation as it shows its support of other fields to the rest of the community.

The Princeton Alumni states that  companies in different fields should see their involvement in the art industry as a way of improving their working environment or a way of enhancing their public image — “they should also see this as a way of gaining a sense of broader cultural objectives and keeping in step with the modern world”.

This form of CSR is also of positive impact to Cultural Institutions as its involvement helps aspiring artists establish themselves to the competitive world.

Businesses are not obliged to support art and if they do, it is not because they find the art industry important, instead it is because it is vital as the act meets the company’s objectives. If the company intends to amplify their audience then it will seek other techniques that will be of assistance towards attaining a larger audience.

Pogrebin (2007) states: “When companies do support culture, they are increasingly paying for it out of their marketing budgets, which means strings are attached to the funds — from how a corporation’s name will appear in promotional materials, to what parties it can give during an exhibition, to the number of free or discounted tickets available to its employees.”

This means companies can still support art at the same time using this as a technique of marketing their own brands and products.

Since art galleries and museums attract a certain type of audience different from that of the organisation, their sponsorship or partnership can generate an even bigger audience for them.

Arts and Business (2009) states that if a company has concern in enhancing its public image through art sponsorship, they will probably be concerned about press coverage and acknowledgement in whatever contribution they could have placed.

Also companies view support of the arts as a source of developing gratitude and understanding of diverse perceptions and cultures in the workplace, and the rest of the community in general.

Partnership of the arts and another organisation can have a positive impression on the development of local communities and social networks. A business relationship is created between the two and can even foster better business relations in the future.

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe has managed to secure a convenient relationship with PPC cement a leading cement producing company.

Their involvement with the gallery and its events has created a partnership and has played a major role through their considerable support and sponsorship during prominent events such as the International Conference on African Cultures (ICAC2017).

With public sponsorship becoming infrequent, the private sector income becomes even more essential in creating more business relationships.

Last year PPC collaborated with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe to host PPC Imaginarium competitions in Zimbabwe. The competitions have been running in South Africa since 2014 and PPC has shown the commitment it has towards the art industry. Spedding (2012), states that business sponsorship remains a dynamic source of funding for many in the art industry.

It is important to also note that the involvement of corporations in the arts can have a significant economic impact on local communities. Their sponsorship and partnership with local galleries, art studios and artists can uplift them financially. Aspiring artists usually lack capital to start their businesses, however, through opportunities that are presented by sponsors through events such as the PPC Imaginurium competition they can expand the scope of their work.

The PPC Imaginurium competition serves as an example of different opportunities that are presented to the artists showing how different corporations are now supporting the art industry.

One of the latest developments in this day and age is the engagement of the corporate world with the art industry.

A number of recognised organisations are beginning to associate themselves with artists as this is not only beneficial to their public image but is a form of Corporate Social Responsibility, which helps with positive social impact to the community.

Another way artists have managed to be elevated financially is through the Zimbabwe Annual Art exhibition (ZAAE). It has allowed talented artists to exhibit their works and be given the chance to share their artistic ideas with the rest of the community.

The Zimbabwe Annual Art exhibition provides space for artists to enter and have their works exhibited for two months. The ZAAE has in the past been funded by corporates who wish to grow their art collections as well as support artists.

When corporations begin to support art, it reflects on how they are willing to go beyond business as usual, as they try to relate to the society and some of the challenges it faces.

Their support of art institutions can be seen as a way of working towards improving their sustainability through the provision of investments aimed to form concrete profits like increased revenue for local businesses, improved education and social interrelation.

Stern (2014) states that companies find themselves supporting the arts in ways that benefit the community as art contributes to the quality of life. It also presents educational opportunities such as the National Gallery School of Visual Arts and Design.

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe has an art school and art studio that offers a wide range of programs to art students. Some of the former students have gone on to exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

The Venice Biennale is the ultimate showcase of contemporary art and artists who exhibits at this platform get exposed to art appreciators and collectors from all over the world.

Above all, it is important to note that a company’s recognition of the importance of art and investment in art is a way of promoting positive social outcomes and vitality to the community can have implications on its future employees.

As stated by Stern (2014): “It is commonly known that the next generation workforce wants to work for companies that give back to their communities and society.”


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