The importance of business in the arts - Linda Crooks, Traverse Theatre
An appraisal of the relationship between the two spheres
The call for business involvement with the arts in Scotland has been proclaimed loudly over the past 25 years by Arts and Business Scotland and the response has been impressive. Arts and Business have played a key role in brokering arts/business relationships, helping shape business perception of the possibilities available to them through working with the arts. They have also helped the artistic communities confidence in dealing with the corporate world and to develop arts businesses with the benefit of top-drawer business expertise.
The role of Arts and Business has evolved as arts organisations have become more business-minded but most significantly more recently as the economy has changed. Clearly, the partnership between the creative and the business communities is challenged by the straitened economic circumstances we now all face. This is precisely why now is the time for the business community to look to the arts for inspiration and innovation – the arts lead us to open our minds and think about our lives differently. The arts are all about creativity, and we only have to look to market leaders to see clear evidence that business investment in innovation and creativity is a sound business strategy. The arts bring diverse groups together who can learn from each other, no matter what sector, experience or background. We are doing this from an international level to local. We are an essential part of the solution.
The Traverse Theatre has benefited from excellent business partnerships over its’ (coming up for 50 years in 2013) life span. The Traverse has made a difference in that time, not least by launching the careers of some of Scotland’s most significant theatre, television and film talent during that period. There have also been important community projects – notably our OutWrite prisons playwriting programme, supported by Scott & Co.
OutWrite gave inmates from Polmont prisons the opportunity to work with theatre professionals to write and develop their own plays and then have them performed by professional actors in front of a live audience at the Traverse Theatre. Feedback from participants in the project was extremely positive: ‘I now know I can script write when I never thought of it before. Plus now my Mum and family are even more proud of me for doing it and doing a lot of things including this that can change my life,’ said an inmate, aged 16 at HMYOI Polmont. The external evaluation also had a positive conclusion:
‘The findings show that the OutWrite project had a positive impact on Young Offenders in HMYOI Polmont, in particular in giving them a sense of achievement that has changed their own perception of their ability to see a project through and succeed through their own engagement, persistence, and determination. This project has encouraged them to reflect on their own lives and hopefully has enabled them to consider alternative options on their release from prison,’ said Ruth Facchini, one of the Polmont education staff.
If businesses can be stimulated through their involvement with the arts, then it’s ultimately good for business, the economy and our society.