The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the importance of culture in people's lives and health, its integrating and cohesive capacity, but also made its social value evident. What has become an enormous potential for the "impact" economy, the one that seeks to contribute to solving social and environmental problems and that understands that actions and investments are levers for it.
Two of the authors of the report The Value of Culture explained it this Thursday in Barcelona. The role of performing arts and classical music in the impact economy, which was presented within the framework of the events that the Fundació Catalunya Cultura celebrates at Casa Seat. Cecilia de la Hoz, partner in the area of strategies and transactions at Ernst
"We are experiencing an impact economy boom. If we go back to the fifties -says De la Hoz-, the decision that made you opt for one investment or another was profitability. Then the profitability-risk binomial was introduced, and we understood that the higher the risk, the better the return had to be demanded. But now we are talking about return-risk-impact. The return that is required of an investment is not only based on risk but also on the impact it will have. Investment funds They're looking for more than just profitability, they want to see how much impact it's having on society."
And now is a fabulous time for culture, warn economic experts, as it can be an attractive sector for companies. Not only does it have the potential to be profitable and attractive for investment, but beyond the 2.4% of GDP generated by this industry in Spain, which also accounts for 3.5% of employment, "its social impact is very high" .
The report in question analyzes the areas in which culture has an impact. First, it helps to improve the quality of education. "We have analyzed a lot of studies that support it. One of them demonstrated the high correlation between students who participate in artistic activities and the academic performance they present," says Sánchez Abeal. It has another impact on employment, because in an era in which technical skills are already easy to transfer, creativity, a sense of collaboration, and a critical sense prevail.
It is also proven that culture improves health, going to artistic events is considered almost a therapy against mental health problems. On the other hand, artistic activities are at this point a mark of integration into society. And finally there is an impact on happiness. And it is already known that the happier a person is, the better he performs at work...
What has to happen for economists and investors to get closer to culture? "We are at a key moment for culture, as it was before for health and education. Sectors all of them dominated by the public sector, with vocational professions, both doctors and teachers and musicians, in which there are great barriers to entrance, since the training is long, and they also generate a positive impact on society. And culture is right now in the awakening phase", the authors of the report point out.
The sponsor who only thinks about the impact of its logo at the entrance of a show is already part of the past. Today what interests him is the impact that said event will have on society. Which also redirects responsibility towards cultural entities that have homework to do. First, equip yourself with parameters and systems to measure that impact and its growth vectors. And knowing how to transmit these metrics to those who must assess them in order to offer these products to the business world. Which is still a challenge for the artistic sector.
In this sense, the report concludes that the performing arts and classical music have a great opportunity to be more strategic, have more sustainable models and attract more financing in the new paradigm of the impact economy, "but that requires a strategic plan of action that aligns all the agents of the sector".
In this adventure of putting cultural organizations and companies in contact, there is a demand for mixed profiles, that is, professionals who master both administrative and artistic language. And the public administration is key in the process, they say, implementing a patronage law, cultural accelerators, etc.
The Catalunya Cultura Foundation, whose purpose is precisely to foster this communion of the business sectors with culture, organized a debate in this context. The corporate vice president of Moventia, Sílvia Martí; the partner of Sustainability Strategy in Attalea, Alicia Rubí; his counterpart in Miura, Esther Sarsa, and the manager of the Free Theater Foundation, Valeri Viladrich, will participate in the discussion.
The latter recognized that the cultural sector "has a hard time" relating to the private business sector. "There has been talk for a long time that we need a change. This report gives us a clear idea of which part needs to be changed. There will be two types of cultural organizations, those that are conformist and do not advance, and those that put these aspects at the center of their strategy. The risk of not knowing how to explain to society how these organizations have a positive impact on it is that they end up being irrelevant and others come and replace them. All cultural organizations have to take that step".
For Rubí, culture should see the private sector as its partner, not just as a source of financing. "Culture is an axis that companies, by supporting it, can support themselves. The tourism sector, for example, enriches its offer by including culture. And this study emphasizes the idea of the experience with culture. 'Culture is what makes London London', says the motto of the City Council of the English capital. Well, that is an example of partnership and sustainable development: it is not about just saying 'give me' but working together for a shared goal."
Regarding what should happen in the cultural sector to be attractive for investment, Sarsa recalled the idea of impact investment. "Both culture and health and education are sectors in which one party calls for philanthropy, because they will never respond to profitability. Then there is philanthropy, which consists of making an investment knowing that I will possibly lose it, and then there are the that they have to measure the impact to account for the money received. And there you have to first set an objective, what impact do I want to cause".
"It is true that cultural projects need metrics. But companies have to carry it in their DNA, they have to believe in the contribution, investment, sponsorship of impact. If you believe in this, you can bet on culture", recalled Sílvia Martí . "Companies are always seen with that purpose associated with sharks, but those that participate and believe in it have their own budget and allocate a part of the profits to social actions and social return. Being pigeonholed in this way is also complicated."