Why involving artists in community partnerships is good for business

In the legend of Theseus and Ariadne, Ariadne provides Theseus with string to find his path back out of the Labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur.

Today, companies are being increasingly required to cross the chasm and share their wider purpose in the full light of day. A key opportunity to do this is through better defining, articulating and implementing their community engagement story. However, to do this effectively they first need to get their house (both below and above ground) in order before approaching their Ariadne.

Now to give due credit most companies are not starting from scratch. There are numerous threads of social good including with sponsorship, waste recycling, employee (payroll) giving to name just a few. It’s just that these initiatives are often tangled, hard to articulate and therefore difficult for their audience to discern.

Even for those that have ‘doing good’ in their DNA there may require some unraveling before they can move forward.

Artists are well positioned to hold the needle and guide you to tell your story. Angela Green’s MBA research shared how the genesis of an art project was not dissimilar to the business creation process.

Both need to launch a solution, build a team, and reach an audience, all with limited resources. Artists are practiced exponents of forming, shaping and directing the ultimate agile team.

Artists are also the heartbeat of the community. They not only see the need to change early but they are the muse that inspires new ways of exploring age-old problems. They are well placed to guide an authentic match of community and business partners. 

CreativeHQ secured their inaugural Artist in Residence to help the incubator better assess and prepare entrepreneurs in their early stage ventures. Leo-Gene Peters workshops resilience and self-awareness. These characteristics are key to both business and ongoing success as an Artist and/or Entrepreneur.

Story (and engagement) is also becoming more participatory with the example of Leo-Gene’s A Slightly Isolated Dog in a non-confrontational joyful experience. Companies need to define whether their engagement is to appeal to an internal and/or external audience. The first offers personal development opportunities and impact for both organisations. Done well the latter can also tap those elements.   

Chapman Tripp and Deloitte are long term sponsors of Circa Theatre in Wellington. Professional services firms understand the need to be around creative thinkers as well and it turn provide thought leadership to their customers. Longevity of support creates new stories such as Chapman Tripp annual Wellingtonnovation event which showcases diverse Community thinkers at Circa.

Howard & Co in Auckland recently hosted a lunch with business leaders. The key takeout (assisted by Dionysus/Bacchus) was that regardless of which community is best aligned to the company’s purpose (e.g. environment) that artists and producers had a role to unlock / divine the narrative.

In two follow up discussions from the lunch leaders want to involve artists to unlock their story – even if the strategic choice for their community partnerships may not be with an arts organisation.

Every company wants to find its own Ariadne. It however benefits from engaging a muse to select what type of partner will guide it to emerge from their labyrinth. Dionysus raised Ariadne from Hades to become his partner. Missing this opportunity, well that’s just bull.


Giddy Up connects business and community through sustainable and strategically aligned partnerships. We are artists and producers who capture the essence of each business to then match it with its optimal community partner.
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InsightsBrian Steele