We might work in the arts field, but our day-to-day work looks like any other business. We stare at Excel charts, spend hours on conference calls, write reports, and try to find the bottom of our never-ending email inboxes. Like every other industry, our work only succeeds if we are creative and innovative, if we try new things and look at old problems in new ways. As arts administrators, we are well versed in the role the arts can play in bringing creativity to the workforce—but we don’t always put this into practice.
However, this summer, we reminded ourselves of the importance of the arts and creativity to our daily work. Our inaugural Johnson Fellow, artist Tanya Aguiñiga, led Americans for the Arts’ New York office through a collaborative felting project. As a group, we explored the creative person that is inside of all of us and doesn’t always get a chance to escape at work. We had the opportunity to collaborate on a design process and experiment with new ideas and techniques. The project took us out of our usual way of working and collaborating, and it made us think about things in new ways. And, in the end, we created a piece of art that represented each of us individually and as a group.
No matter what industry you work in, Americans are seeing the value of creativity in their jobs. From our recent public opinion poll, Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018, 55% of employed Americans agree that their job requires them to be creative. And an even larger percentage, 60%, believe that the more creative and innovative they are at their job, the more successful they are in the workplace.
And how are they finding their inner creative spark? For many businesses, the answer lies in partnering with the arts. Our recently released Business Contributions to the Arts 2018 Survey, conducted in partnership with The Conference Board, asked business leaders if the arts contribute to stimulating creative thinking and problem solving—and 53% of them agreed that it does.
These trends align with the report Ready to Innovate, conducted ten years ago by The Conference Board, that explored the role of the arts in building creativity in the workforce. The report, aimed at business leaders, concludes, “The arts—music, creative writing, drawing, dance—provide skills sought by employers of the third millennium.”
When asked about their current challenges, CEOs interviewed by The Conference Board talked about the importance of creativity and innovation. Less than 10% are extremely satisfied with their organization’s ability to innovate. These CEOs also said that as part of their long-term vision, the want to emphasize creativity and innovation as a part of their corporate values.
That might sound a little grim—but there are great examples across the country of businesses engaging with artists and arts organizations to bring creativity into their workplace.
At Milliken, employees are surrounded by art throughout their campus and in their day-to-day work. They even integrate art into their training sessions and encourage artistic endeavors through an employee band. CEO Joe Salley reports, “Innovation, art, and design are the heart of our corporation, and are inherent in our training. The arts open our minds to the seemingly impossible and help us think with fresh perspectives, which is what our nearly 7,000 associates worldwide do every day to bring the Milliken spirit of innovation to life.”
Hallmark’s #my5days program offers five work days per year for creative employees to renew, explore, learn, and think differently about the world and work around them by participating in their creative pursuits. According to CEO Don Hall, “As a creatively based company, Hallmark sees the arts as a source of renewal and inspiration for our employees and our business.”
Like our own experience, like that of Hallmark and Milliken, businesses and their employees are valuing creativity and innovation more and more as an integral part of their work experience to inspire new ideas and new ways of working that impact the bottom line. We want to provide the data and best practices to inspire even more businesses to engage with the arts.
Photo: Staff in the New York office making art with Tanya Aguiñiga
This blog originally appeared on ArtsBlog