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Corporate responsibility, arts funding and community cohesion

I probably missed the meeting, but I’ve not previously heard the argument that “arts funding is closely linked to community cohesion”, put as vociferously as it is in the UK right now.

As I write Sir Nicholas Hytner, director of London’s National Theatre, is on Sky News making the case that community cohesion and arts funding are intrinsically linked.

The film director Danny Boyle also spoke out on Sky News and is demanding to meet the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, to discuss regional arts funding and the links with better communities, creativity and the innovation economy.

Typically the corporate responsibility community, such as it is, looks down on philanthropy, under which arts funding would typically sit. 

I wonder if now the links with human well being are better made, whether this will mean a further rise interest in the idea of business philanthropy being “strategic” rather than simply handing out cash or grants.

If that’s the case, that is, on balance, a good thing. If there is research to support it, companies may now be able to make more of a case for arts funding as part of a genuine contribution to society, rather than merely PR.

If there is not research to support it, then there’s an opportunity for companies to work with, say, an academic institution to help make the case. 

I’m sure that’s been done. A cursory Google search shows that it has been. See here, for example.

But of course, more can always been done, and better publicised. 

Do so would perhaps provide a way for companies to link philanthropic activities and social impacts that little bit better. That could only be a good thing.

 (On a slight but relevant tangent, when a friend of mine was helping a mining company reduce accidents and develop a culture of safety in African mines, the team used community songs and adapted them to include safety messages, then made sure they were sung in the mines. It worked, as far as I know. Cool eh?)