Valuing Art-making

I’ve been browsing through articles today – and a couple caught my eye. First was about a study done on art-making by corporate executives, by John Bryan. Second was a post about when ballet dancers choose to retire, by Melody Datz.

The study about corporate executives was a little discouraging to me – after all, two-thirds of the respondents answered “No” to the first question, ending the survey altogether. But the second article reminded me that artists do not often enter a corporate workforce…many are starting their own businesses and companies, or looking for second careers that allow them to help others (nursing was one example in the article).

Should we expect the corporate world to value art-making? Do CEOs need to participate in art-making in order to value it? Why not ask CEOs the following questions:

  • Do you value art?
  • Do you consider art-making to be an indicator of creativity?
  • Are you creative?
  • Do you consider art-making or creativity when making hiring decisions?

Although the study seems to hint at the benefit of an executive’s art-making to his or her company’s bottom line, it doesn’t actually follow through with any sort of bottom line comparison of the CEOs who do and do not make art. I know that would be difficult comparison to make, but it still begs the question!

Mr. Bryan claims, “But while creativity is an attribute that is subjective and hard to identify, art maker is an objective attribute that is easily identified.” I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that statement. These days, so many corporate executives are enabling art by granting, sponsoring, and sitting on boards. Can we say that without them the art would still be made? Maybe. But as it is, it is often corporations and their executives that fund and lead arts organizations – is that not counted as making art?

The survey implied making art is a direct correlation to developing creativity, which is the basis of the increased bottom line performance statistic mentioned at the beginning of the “Art-Making” article. Can’t creativity be fostered through the enjoyment of art? Isn’t that what every arts org mission statement says anyway: “…to foster the enjoyment of <art form> and creative thinking and problem solving that results from <art form>”? (Oh, and if you are writing a new mission statement for your org, you’re welcome. I just saved you 12 hours of board retreat!)

These are a lot of questions, and I certainly don’t have the answers. It was just interesting to me that a study about art-making was so very specific in the definition that it likely didn’t account for any other arts participation at all. Maybe that was the point. Sometimes there is beauty in simplicity but this study was too basic for any real questions to be answered.

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