My vision for Vendini has always included giving back to the arts community and through a number of philanthropic initiatives we are striving to be just as creative and resourceful in our philanthropy as we are in developing our industry leading technology. That’s why we started “Vendini Loves the Arts,” our corporate giving program dedicated to funding non-profit arts organizations (read press release).
A lot of people tell me it’s great to support the arts, but aren’t there more important issues considering today’s economy? It’s a good question. In tough economic times, many U.S. companies are giving less to the arts. But at Vendini, we’ve increased our overall support of non profit arts.
According to recent economic reports, many companies report that they have jobs but can’t find qualified workers right now. Well, I believe that strong community arts programs help develop the skilled, quality workforce businesses are looking for right now. And there’s research to support my out-of-the-ordinary view. Studies show that communities and schools with strong arts programs lead to smarter and more creative workers. According a report from The Conference Board, 72 percent of business leaders say creativity is of “high importance” when hiring employees and a degree in the arts — music, dance, creative writing, drawing — helps give future employees the skills they need in the workplace. Art programs in schools have also been linked to higher SAT scores in all three areas of the test — math, reading and writing. Students who took four years of arts or music in high school on average score 100 points higher than those who study the arts for a semester or less.
I have to admit, supporting the arts motivates our current employees, too. We recently hired performance artist Ian Ross to do a piece in our corporate offices. All of us were enthralled as we watched him transform our lobby wall into a piece of art. It was an experience that inspired us as we watched its creation and continues to contribute to our creativity every time we walk through the lobby.
So, what are your thoughts? Are we crazy to support the arts in these tough economic times? Or crazy not to?