At a breakfast panel forum of business leaders held on October 8, 2015 at the Microsoft Conference Center in New York City, Theatre Forward—a national network of theatres, companies and funders supporting 19 of America’s leading nonprofit theatres—released findings from its commissioned survey, Unmasking Business Success, affecting both the business and arts sectors.
Unmasking Business Success measured the impact arts engagement has on the development of skills which executives believe are essential for success in a competitive global marketplace. Americans for the Arts partnered on this survey.
The survey, which was conducted by Shugoll Research (a two time BCA 10 honoree), included senior executives from 200 corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies. The results illustrate overwhelming consensus that young people entering today’s workforce lack strength in key areas which arts education could help to develop.
- 92% of business executives feel young people are not well prepared to enter the workforce and be successful.
- When directly asked (aided), nearly 58% agreed that participating in the arts developed essential workplace skills required for maintaining a competitive edge.
- 89% responded they personally participated in the arts in some fashion, and a majority said the arts significantly contribute to their career success and the development of skill they use daily in their jobs.
As encouraging as the findings are for the arts community at large, other findings from the survey are more challenging. There is a disconnect in the minds of executives. Unprompted (unaided), only 8% made the direct connection between origins and affect.
The survey launch panelists included Joanna Coles, Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan; Diane Paulus, Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater; Luis Ubiñas, Advisor, Investor and Corporate Board Member; and the panel was moderated by James S. Turley, Chairman of Theatre Forward and the 2012 BCA Leadership Award honoree.
The panelists expressed that we are living in a new age of innovation where employees who can think creatively and communicate effectively are crucial to a business’s success. In addition to helping business leaders and hiring managers understand the value of employees with arts training, the panelists expressed the importance of ensuring equitable access to arts education for tomorrow’s business leaders. To ensure equitable access, the panelists suggested communicating data about the effect of the arts on hireability with government leaders and educators.