For most companies, arts-led CSR strategies are the exception rather than the rule, with most focusing on areas such as community, environment, diversity and so on. Although clearly areas which deserve the attention of business – to exclude the arts as an enabler of these strategies is short-sighted. The arts could and should be integral to building awareness and support of an organisation’s CSR strategy and in engaging the stakeholders in the widest possible sense.
Artists have long been associated with the challenges of responding to the world around them, to develop work that is inclusive rather than exclusive, to provide an alternative literacy to people without a voice and, where relevant, create links between communities who may never otherwise interact. The skills, knowledge and creativity of the arts and artists in this respect are a key tool in enabling businesses to build an effective CSR strategy.
Not only can the arts enable businesses or individuals to understand their cultural, social, political, economic and natural environments, they can work with business to develop creative ways to address these issues.
Once devised, a major challenge for companies is to engage staff in the new CSR programmes. Those who lead the area of CSR are naturally passionate about the impact on organizational behaviour and the opportunity for change, but does it go beyond them into the wider workforce? We believe the arts can play a role in bringing CSR concepts to life, and ensure engagement by the wider stakeholders.
Many factors compete for our attention in the workplace, and CSR is just one of the messages that you might hear amongst the chatter of corporate communication. If we are to become engaged in a process or activity we must find a way for it to compete and, potentially, complement this culture. This is what the arts seek to do on a daily basis and, in its many forms, art is entertainment.
We believe that the arts have the ability to bring an alternative perspective and a voice to many CSR initiatives and, critically, allow businesses to differentiate their CSR agenda from others to their internal and external stakeholders.