Business Contributions to the Arts: 2018 Edition is the second edition published by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts of the annual study. Conducted in the summer of 2018, the survey garnered 132 responses from small, midsize, and large U.S. businesses, 123 of which made a philanthropic contribution of some description in 2017 and are therefore included in this report. Here are some of the findings:
Business support for the arts is increasing. Nearly a quarter of companies expect to increase their funding for the arts in the next 12 months and only 7 percent expect a decrease. These increases will likely be driven by increased overall philanthropy budgets.
Creativity continues to drive business engagement with the arts. More than half of respondents overall (53 percent) reported that arts support contributes to stimulating creative thinking and problem solving. This aligns with data from Americans for the Arts’ recent public opinion poll, Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018, where 55 percent of employed adults say their job requires them to “be creative and come up with ideas that are new and unique.” An even greater proportion (60 percent) say that the more creative and innovative they are at their job, the more successful they are in the workplace.
The arts improve the economy and quality of life in communities. 79 percent of companies believe arts improve the quality of life in their community, and 63 percent of companies believe the arts contribute to the economy. Similarly, our recent public opinion poll found that 68 percent of Americans say the arts are good for the economy and support jobs.
Businesses are looking to the arts for their diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. 36 percent of all companies partner with the arts as a way to address diversity in the workplace. When looking at companies with over $25 billion in revenue, this increases to 50 percent of all companies surveyed. Additionally, 42 percent of all businesses say the arts provide an avenue to address challenging conversations in the workplace. This is an upward trend from past surveys.
Employees want to be engaged with their jobs and their communities. 63 percent of companies promote board service at arts organizations, and 60 percent of companies provide opportunities for their employees to volunteer at arts organizations on company time.
Arts education is a priority for businesses. Arts education programs are the most common area of the arts field supported by companies, with 69 percent indicating involvement in such programs. In addition to arts education, music, visual arts, theatre, and culturally specific arts organizations all receive support from more than 50 percent of companies.
When it comes to measuring impact, there is room to grow. 55 percent of companies do not measure the social impact of their arts support. This is an area for growth for arts organizations as the business community continues looking for data and a return on investment on their community partnerships.
A version of this post initially appeared on ArtsBlog