Culture and business collaboration is a ‘win-win’ for North-east Scotland

AS is the case right across Scotland, the North-east faces ongoing budget pressures that make getting local cultural projects off the ground a growing challenge. More and more, cultural organisations are turning to alternative sources of funding to make those projects happen.

In particular, forging partnerships with local business is becoming an increasingly important avenue for the cultural sector to explore. A recent Arts & Business Scotland survey of cultural organisations from across Scotland found that, on a scale of zero (not at all) to ten (crucial), Scotland’s cultural sector rated collaboration with business as 7.6 today, rising to 8.3 in three years’ time.

Just over one third of cultural organisations responding rated the importance of collaboration with business very highly today, rising to more than half who predict such collaboration will become “crucial” or “near crucial” for their organisation in three years’ time.

There are equally good reasons for the business community to take a closer look at future opportunities to collaborate with the cultural sector. Results from the latest Scottish household survey show that the Scottish population has never been more culturally engaged. In a competitive labour market, employers are increasingly seeking to attract talent to their locality based on general quality of life – including the quality and variety of the local cultural scene.

It is therefore in many businesses’ own self-interest to do what they can to support a vibrant cultural sector within their local community, providing greater opportunities for their own workforce to enjoy improved wellbeing and quality of life through cultural engagement.

Furthermore, a recent public opinion poll found that more than half of Scots would be more likely to buy goods and services from a business if they knew that business was sponsoring cultural activity within their local community. Supporting culture isn’t just nice to do. It makes good business sense as well.

With the specific aim of promoting greater collaboration between business and the cultural sector, Arts & Business Scotland recently launched the Culture & Business Fund Scotland, which matches business sponsorship of cultural projects pound for pound and is funded by the Scottish Government via Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.

Over the last decade, the Fund’s predecessor, the New Arts Sponsorship (NAS) Grants Programme successfully invested almost £300,000 across 29 individual arts and heritage projects throughout the North-east of Scotland. This included “Granite”, a specially commissioned piece of event theatre preceded by a six month community engagement programme that, in late 2015 and early 2016, successfully engaged with more than 25,000 people across the city of Aberdeen. The NAS Grants Programme provided match funding for Deloitte’s sponsorship of the project.

Through the Culture & Business Fund Scotland, we want to encourage many more such successful partnerships between local businesses and cultural organisations across the North-east. By making the region more culturally vibrant and improving local community wellbeing into the bargain, cultural organisations and local businesses alike have much to gain from closer collaboration.