Business and Arts NL: What They Do and Why They’re Doing It

“Our services improve the operational capacity of the arts sector, maximize the benefits of arts giving, and broker compatible partnerships.”

Business and Arts NL was created to foster mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and artists in Newfoundland, and to advocate the perks of these unions.  

Their ultimate goal is to create a partnership between these two sectors based on open communication and appreciation of each area’s expertise.  While business possesses organizational, legal,  and financial savvy, the arts foster imagination, creativity, and innovation.  Weaved together, these skills can give any individual or organization the edge it needs to thrive.

The group was established by Peggy and John Fisher of Fisher’s Loft fame. The way John tells it, Business and Arts NL came together upon his realization “that we needed the business sector to become far more aware about the arts in their many forms, and the role they play in the economy and society in general.”

This revelation came to him back when he helped the local literary journal Riddle Fence get off the ground. Riddle Fence is a fabulous full-colour quarterly sharing the literature and visual art of both local and non-local artists. “While we were able to raise some $40,000 from various sources, I ran into a wall of disinterest on the part of business. They had little to no idea about literary arts in general, and the cultural role of a literary journal in particular.”

Business and Arts NL has launched a number of initiatives which address “the all important two way street. BUSINESS TO ARTS; ARTS TO BUSINESS.” As their website states, “Our services improve the operational capacity of the arts sector, maximize the benefits of arts giving, and broker compatible partnerships.”

“Our services improve the operational capacity of the arts sector, maximize the benefits of arts giving, and broker compatible partnerships.”

Their Brokering Service is a key element of partnership building: it matches private sector players with those in the arts community.  Brokering, says General Manager Amy Henderson, is the really exciting part of what they do. “We want to be the go-to organization for facilitating any and all innovative ideas that bring these two sectors together. Whether a business is looking for help coming up with a really great employee appreciation event, a new branding idea, or wants help identifying an arts organization whose values match their own, we are here to help make these ideas come to fruition.”

Amy says they’re really excited about launching the Arts to Business Directory of Creative Services in July. “Local artists and arts organizations have pitched 60 projects to be included in various categories, such as Demonstrating Customer Appreciation. This catalogue will be launched as a searchable database on our website, and is designed to help foster interaction between the creative and private sectors that is win-win.

Regular Business & Arts NL seminars provide information on several areas including, why the arts and business should be combined, building and maintaining effective sponsorships, and copyright and intellectual property.  Lawyer John O’Dea has been involved with the organization from the start. He recently received the NLAC’s “Patron of the Arts” award. As for John, he was shortlisted for a similar award himself at the 2015 Excellence in Visual Arts awards. These are successful businessmen with a solid vision for how the Arts and Business sectors can benefit from one another.

The next project they will launch is called Business Volunteers for the Arts, which fosters private sector support of the arts by offering pro bono legal, accounting, and marketing assistance to arts members. “So far, 430 hours of help have been pledged by professionals across the province,” says Henderson, “and that number is growing. We will also offer a series of 10 seminars next year, dealing with popular areas of concern in arts management, including developing a marketing plan, using social media, bookkeeping and taxes, grant writing, etc.”

They’re also responsible for the piano at St. John’s International airport. It’s part of an internationally implemented idea known as Come Play with Me. Each piano is decorated by a local artist and placed in a public spot where those passing by can stop and play for a while, to amuse those around them.  The one at the airport was decorated by local artist Justin Fong.

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