Why The Arts Are Good For Business

Focus on creative efforts fosters community relations.

What's the connection between a manufacturer of electrical and metal products and the art of the U.S. Southwest, a German dance troupe, and a symphony? In the case of Cooper Industries Inc. of Houston, these are among the charitable causes to which it donates $3 million annually. "Cooper has made a strong commitment to make certain that all arts in Houston and in operations around the country are vibrant," explains Judith A. Jedlicka, president of the Business Committee for the Arts Inc. in Manhattan. The $3.8 billion corporation makes the investment to help nurture creative energy among employees who are able to meet artists, listen to the symphony, and watch dancers. By no means is investing in the arts a U.S. phenomenon. In the UK, Arts & Business, a London not-for-profit with 350 members, arranges partnerships between corporations and museums, theater groups, and other cultural organizations. Collaborations include Matsushita Electric Europe (HQ) Ltd. and the European Union Baroque Orchestra. Matsushita exclusively sponsors the preprofessional baroque orchestral group that gives experience to Europe's rising student musicians. The Japanese corporation's sponsorship allows the orchestra to promote the best educational programs for members, including a chance to collaborate with top musical directors, give foreign performances, and work on researched repertoires. The payoff for Matsushita? The orchestra's ties to the European Parliament and Commission provide executives access to officials and other decision makers.

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