By Bernie Petit
A recent Huffington Post Arts & Culture blog touts the arts industry as “The Private Sector’s Secret Weapon.”
“At the end of the day,” it reads, “if we want the best employees, we have to provide them with the best opportunities to become artistically and culturally involved in and out of the office.”
It speaks directly to the value of businesses building relationships and partnering with cultural organizations in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, said Arts & Science Council Interim President Robert Bush.
“The arts and science and history community here has enormous impact on citizens from education to leisure time activity,” Bush said. “People tend to use the services of businesses that connect themselves with very positive community-based work. There’s nothing better than connecting with an arts, science or history organization.”
Aligning with cultural organizations can help businesses attract and retain top talent in a competitive job market. In some cases, it can draw other businesses to the area – the blog points out that Dallas “lost its bid for relocation of the Boeing Headquarters to Chicago because it could not compete culturally.”
While connecting to the cultural community can seem like a chore for some companies, it doesn’t have to be. Bush took time to answer a few questions about how businesses can help bridge those relationships locally and why it’s important to do so. His responses are below.
How can companies build better relationships with cultural organizations?
Bush: There are a number of ways. You can run an employee campaign for Arts & Science Council and learn all about ASC and the groups that we support all over Mecklenburg County. If you have a specific passion for one kind of art or science or history organization, you can get involved there as a board member or volunteer or encourage your employees to do an employee project with that group. Or you can just become an active consumer of arts, science and history programs in Mecklenburg County.
What role do the arts, sciences and history play in creating a workforce that is attractive to businesses?
Bush: Mecklenburg County already has a large employee base in the for-profit and non-profit sectors that are creative jobs. In fact, over 14,000 people in Mecklenburg County are employed by businesses that would be classified as creative, much like the information on industrial designers and engineers. Those 14,000 people represent 2 percent of the entire workforce of Mecklenburg County as well as 5 percent of the businesses in Mecklenburg County, so creative employment is already here and it’s not going away. These are mostly small businesses that employ locally and the dollars stay in this community as do the jobs. It’s not just if you’re a painter or a sculptor or a musician. You may work in the printing industry, you may work in the advertising industry, you make work in broadcasting, you may work in the media with literary issues, you might be a photographer that takes pictures at weddings. Those are all creative jobs that require the individuals that are in those jobs to pursue professional education beyond high school and how to do their jobs, so it’s a very important part of this economy already.
What is the value of businesses partnering with cultural organizations?
Bush: It’s a win-win on both sides, the non-profit benefits from being connected with businesses but we think that even more it’s a win for the employees and the image of the organization.