Since the start of our chief arts officer campaign we have had a very positive reaction. A promising sign is that many companies are already committed to working with the arts, albeit on an ad-hoc basis. Sponsorship executives, events managers, HR professionals, corporate social responsibility execs and communications directors value the arts as a positive influence on their overall responsibilities. There has also been positive feedback from agencies working across these fields.
People can see the direct and indirect benefits, but on a day-to-day basis they may be too busy. It’s not surprising – they have many other deliverables to focus on. This is why the CAO needs to be a standalone role, working with managers and directors across different departments within a business. The CAO should take responsibility for their own deliverables and help those who would like to try something “creative” or different, but are under too much pressure to work laterally, let alone think laterally.
Other departments, such as finance, IT and operations, would also benefit from collaborations with the arts, whether via HR, internal communications or in their own right. Surely having someone to work with them all and manage the process would be beneficial.
Encouraging the arts to collaborate with business will, in the short term, open up new revenue streams, but offering staff members to arts organisations on secondment, in a similar way that some law firms do, will also encourage greater, long-term commercial dynamism in the arts.
The second issue of Artworks Journal, published September 2013, looks at architecture. It is a discipline, which has a clear focus on business objectives, including budgets, efficiency and specification criteria, at the same time as paying equal attention to human interaction, environment and sustainability, as well as functional and aesthetic design. An architect has to take many considerations into account, which is a good example of how the role of chief arts officer should work within a business.