Is Public Art Right for Your Business? 6 Things to Consider

Public art changes neighborhoods. It engages and empowers those who encounter it in their everyday lives. And it can be great for your business.

Four years ago, our client Jiffy Lube of Indiana embarked on a long-term, state-wide, public art project. Green Loop collaborated with the Arts Council of Indianapolis to spearhead and manage it along the way. Since then, we’ve received quite a few questions on why and how to invest in public art and how to maximize the investment. 

This is the first part of an ongoing series where we’ll share our experience and best practices to see a public art project from start to finish. 

Incorporating art into your business and marketing strategy is thrilling and so very worthwhile. Note that we use the words “invest” and “investment” more than once throughout this article. Quality art that makes the desired impact on your business isn’t cheap. If you’re going to invest, make sure you plan ahead and think through the details. 

Ask yourself these questions to help you understand if a public art project is right for your business: 


Is Public Art Right for Your Business? 6 Things to Consider


1. What do you hope to achieve? 

Manage your own expectations first and foremost. Think about how you define the success of the project? Is your entire focus on your bottom line? While that’s certainly important, it shouldn’t be the sole driver. Gaining a unique competitive edge and building market share is a distinct possibility. According to the Americans for the Arts’ pARTnership Movement, “45% of companies say that partnering with the arts offers networking opportunities and the potential to build market share.” (Business Contributions to the Arts: 2018 Edition)


2. Who will benefit from this art? 

Your employees, neighbors, and communities all win here. In 2016, the Adobe State of Creative report showed that 76% of companies that invest in creativity have happier employees. Some neighborhoods and communities have even associated public art initiatives as one of the reasons they’ve seen decreased crime rates

A commitment to the arts can boost brand recognition and your company’s reputation, too. As you work through the process, the element of storytelling comes into play. Teaming up with marketing and PR partners helps you craft and broadcast your art efforts, who they’ll impact, and why you’re doing them. 


3. Can you afford it? 

Art done well and properly is not a small investment. Depending on the size of the wall and the experience of the artist, murals can range anywhere from $3,000 to tens of thousands of dollars. Want to cut corners and save a few bucks? Don’t. Remember that this is how artists earn their living. Their time, skill, and experience is valuable. 

In addition to the cost of the mural itself, consider additional cost factors such as engaging an arts organization and marketing team for support. 


4. Who will you team up with for your endeavor? 

Artists! DUH! There are a handful of other folks who will play a key role in making your project successful. A project manager, an artist liaison or local arts organization, marketing and PR leads, and a building and maintenance manager will all work together with you and the artists. 


5. Who are the key decision-makers? 

You’ll need to have early buy-in from the building owner and your finance team, to name a few. Not a key decision-maker yourself? Gather data points to help make the case to the higher-ups The pARTnership Movement, created by the Americans for the Arts, is filled with valuable chunks of data on the impacts of public art and business, employee engagement, and much more.


6. Where should you start? 

Keep in mind that public art, like all great marketing, is part of a long game. We recently met with Randy Oostra, the CEO of ProMedica and the person behind reviving the City of Toledo through art, placemaking, and economic investment. While most of us aren’t working to revitalize an entire city, starting small and working your way up is the way to go. “Build upon small or individual projects. Showing momentum allows you to build over time, encouraging advocacy and excitement along the way,” he shared. 


Additional Resources 

Our friends at the Arts Council of Indianapolis created a Public Art Toolkit that serves as a solid resource for understanding and planning public art projects. If you’re a numbers person, the pARTnership Movement, created by the Americans for the Arts, is filled with valuable chunks of data on the impacts of public art and business, employee engagement, and much more. Want to brainstorm your public art idea with us? We’d love to hear about it. Send us a note and let’s meet for coffee. 

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