Business and the arts: Not quite wedding bells, but getting closer

Cupid in Tokyo_LucySG

An interesting theme I noticed when doing my MBA was the bringing together of business and the arts.

Unlikely bedfellows really. At least they are from the perspective of someone brought up around artists, writers and film-makers. Creative types and business-minded folk have traditionally had a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your point of view) disdain for one another. Completely different ideologies and politics, business people were considered to be 'the root of all evil', and artists 'naive and out of touch' (I'm simplifying of course...).

But the relationship seems to have matured. It's as though they finally realised they needed each other and, actually, can't really get by without one other.

Take strategic management, for instance. There is little point in having an organisational strategy and vision for the future, if no one working for the organisation can understand it. "A strategy not understood by those charged with implementing it is as bad, or even worse than, not having  a strategy at all". (See Stratography: The art of conceptualizing and communicating strategy). Increasingly, senior executives, strategists and internal communications professionals are realising the need to engage the skills of artists and designers to present their strategies and concepts in ways that help people visualise and understand where they are heading.

Take innovation and entrepreneurship -- again with the theme of creativity and business having to walk hand in hand. It is clear that generating creative ideas for innovation or new enterprises won't amount to much without the business knowledge to turn the ideas into reality.

The opportunity

One setting where these two disciplines could do with the help of Cupid's arrow is in our education institutions.

I have witnessed scores of young graduates coming out of design, performance and film schools with zero business knowledge as it wasn't incorporated into their studies. Considering that most of them have been trained in a profession that will require them to be self-employed, there is an opportunity for the education institutions to bring together their experts from both disciplines and equip these students with the skills they need to manage themselves and their creative talents as a successful, viable business. 


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Lucy Sanderson-Gammon, MBA, is director of Luminous Consulting Limited. She provides management and communications consultancy and short term contracting services, as well as business and career coaching and management communications training.