Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Be Very Afraid

It wasn't all good news at  BASA’s (Business and Arts South Africa) presentation of the research they have conducted into corporate sponsorship of the arts. It was presented by Michelle Constant, its CEO, and was surprisingly short: the bulk of their findings can only be gleaned for a fee. I know they need the revenue but not sure how that serves both the business and arts community, especially considering Constant’s observation that there is very little research available on the arts. None of their findings were really surprising either: for example the business community believes that arts organisations are disorganised and not proactive enough – in other words they have a negative view of this industry. Through their research BASA also established that there is a clear division between what corporates view as social responsibility programmes and marketing initiatives (no surprise there either) – Constant believed that corporates could market their brand while sponsoring social responsibility programmes. The main problem that I have observed is that the kind of endeavours that companies consider as social responsibility projects tend not to be “high art” activities for obvious reasons; if they sponsor an event that is simply an art for art’s sake project then it is not seen as uplifting to society. The view that business appears to take is that supporting art and artists is in itself not perceived as being “socially responsible” .