Economic Forecast: Arts a key role in business and education

Dr. Guillermina Gonzalez

Businesses constantly seek to create a competitive edge for their products and services that will increase the return on investment for their organizations. And the arts can help deliver better business results.

Americans for the Arts recognized the trend that connects the arts and businesses years ago and, as a consequence, launched its pARTnership Movement, identifying eight reasons for businesses to partner with the arts. From there, we can detect three art-business trends emerging in 2015.

First, companies will increase the hiring of creators, empathizers, pattern recognizers and “meaning makers,” as Daniel Pink predicted in A Whole New Mind. Second, companies will increase their support in arts-education initiatives, where sciences and the arts complement each other. Third, companies will support “creative placemaking” initiatives, where local economies benefit by the inclusion of the arts as economic development engines.

The need for the U.S. to regain its competitive edge in increasingly globalized markets brings us to predict that presidential candidates will include the arts as part of their political platforms from two distinctive angles: funding for the arts and arts education.

Today’s business environment demands innovation and creativity to draw inspiration and nonlinear approaches to business problem solving. Businesses will see the merits of including the arts as part of their business plans to regain competitive edge.

The arts have always been the springboard of creativity and innovation. The workforce of the future is educated at an early age. Kids should get an arts-infused curriculum that will enable them to become the inquisitive, creative thinkers described by Pink. As a consequence, organizations realizing this will increase their support to initiatives and curricula that clearly incorporate the arts.

Engaged business leaders are part of the community they live in. They are interested in dynamic schools, communities and economies.

Artscape, a not-for-profit urban-development organization, defines creative placemaking as the field that leverages the power of the arts, culture and creativity to serve a community’s interest, while driving a broader agenda for change, growth and transformation in a way that also builds character and quality of place. Organizations, therefore, will see in creative placemaking the right strategies to improve community well-being and prosperity, while also fostering conditions for cities to define, draw attention to, and distinguish themselves on a global scale—in other words, the kind of communities they want their employees to live in.

The increasing importance of the arts in schools and communities will force Hillary Clinton for Democrats and Jeb Bush for Republicans, as their parties’ candidates, to incorporate the arts in their political platforms to increase their palatability to voters. Clinton will propose a substantial increase for the National Endowment for the Arts, while Bush will opt for making the arts a part of a comprehensive education overhaul.

Overall, we will see the arts becoming a prominent component of our daily lives in 2015. This is a fantastic prospect.

(Dr. Guillermina Gonzalez is the executive director of the Delaware Arts Alliance and the chair of the Americans for the Arts’ State Arts Action Network.)

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