Ways of seeing
The business landscape is being changed through the positive impact of art in the workplace, writes Colin Cardwell
ART and business have gone together like oil and canvas at least since the days of the High Renaissance – but the palette has changed radically since the Duke of Milan reached into his back pocket to keep Leonardo da Vinci on side. More recently, the founding of the Courtauld Institute of Art in the 1930s brought politics and serious industrial muscle together to wrest art away from the privileged rich.
It’s a concept that has been continued and extended by Arts & Business Scotland, which earlier this month celebrated its 20th anniversary with Art in the Workplace, an exhibition in Glasgow’s Clydesdale Bank Exchange building that drew together works ranging from landscapes by James McIntosh Patrick to a George Wyllie bronze and a tapestry by Ann Gillies.
For Barclay Price, director of Arts & Business Scotland, having art in the office, canteen or factory is not just purely decorative. “It’s a positive factor in staff morale and an effective way to emphasise the quality of a company’s brand and, potentially, a sound financial investment.”
While the big Scottish banks and whisky companies have a long heritage of acquiring, sponsoring and promoting art, Art in the Workplace included pieces owned by a PR firm, a forklift truck supplier and a hotel group – disproving the idea, says Price, that business is not willing to support art at the cutting edge. “It’s beginning to recognise the benefits that art can have, as part of its corporate social responsibility,” he says.
With money from the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Arts Council (UK-wide Arts & Business turns £6m of government money into more than £100m worth of support for the arts) there is a clear imperative to convince the wider business world that art can speak their language and effectively deal with logistics, project management and even the rather crucial detail of insurance. The message, it seems, is getting across: Price points out that membership has risen by 40% in the past six months. Truly, the art of the possible.
From left to right, clockwise: Main picture: The Finnan Carrier, John Bellany Burness The Festival Fireworks, Alice Shaw Bank Of Scotland Secret Uncle, Michael Hill Johnson Elphinstone Group Hills and a valley, Angus, James Morrison William Grant & Sons Conversation Piece 1, John Brazenall Turcan Connell