Businesses enlivening the arts is a winning combination for Atlanta
By Guest Columnist DAN REARDON, CEO of the North Highland consulting firm
The financial health of Atlanta’s arts community has taken a significant hit over the past few months.
Last October, Georgia Shakespeare went out of business after 29 years due to financial woes, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians were locked out in a contract dispute due to years of operating below budget.
What does it take to keep the arts alive in Georgia?
In addition to providing funding, which these organizations certainly need to operate, business leaders across the state can bring their knowledge and expertise to help these organizations do more than survive: to empower them to thrive.
Additionally, Georgia’s national ranking per capita for state arts support is next to last in the nation, according to Georgia Council for the Arts.
Atlanta is also a little different than the broader U.S. when it comes to funding. Here, corporate giving is the backbone of support, as opposed to individual giving, which is dominant in other large cities. The Council also reported that creative industries in Georgia represent more than 12,000 businesses employing nearly 200,000 people and generating $29 billion in annual revenue. Economically, we are making a huge mistake if the business community does not step in and help our arts community.
Arts organizations in Georgia and nationally rely on financial investments from both individuals and corporations to thrive. Volunteering time in the arts and experiencing its culture is also a simple and highly effective way to make this possible. Networking and connecting with creative minds results in new solutions, opportunities and valuable relationships. It’s a way to get involved in your passion and see how your business learnings can be applied outside of the office. I knew that I didn’t have the skills to be an actor or singer, but that didn’t stop me from finding a way to get involved in a cause that I was passionate about. It was incredibly rewarding to see success and know my efforts helped (and I left the acting to the professionals).
Further, the Atlanta economy needs a strong cultural scene to help attract and retain top talent from around the world, and a rich cultural arts scene significantly contributes to the economy, tourism and the quality of life. People want to live and work in a city with a vibrant arts community.