Banks mobilize to support artistic communities affected by Covid-19

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By Karen Epper Hoffman

BBusinesses large and small have long maintained close and supportive relationships with local and national arts and culture. Indeed, financial institutions have played a key role not only by financially sponsoring, but by supporting and actively participating in numerous artistic and cultural initiatives, including by constituting their own art collections. Erica Opstad, Community Affairs Manager for national programs at the US Bank, has spent more than two decades leading the distribution of grants to the arts. She considers the arts and culture to be an essential pillar of the bank’s support to its customers and employees. “It’s about focusing on philanthropy,” Opstad says. “Art institutes are small businesses and make a significant contribution to [their]city ​​or town. ”

Bank of America has long played an important role in creating and lending its own art collection and in supporting arts and culture across the country. Rena De Sisto, global framework for arts and culture and women’s programs at Bank of America, says that in addition to exhibiting paintings and sculptures in the bank’s 800 facilities, the bank has loaned its art collection to 150 exhibits over the past decade. Bank of America has 50,000 pieces in its private art collection, from posters and prints to expensive works.

“We very often receive calls about our art collection,” explains De Sisto, “adding that the bank has often co-organized exhibitions at the Gantt Center in the city of the bank’s headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Nassau County Museum of Art on Long Island and museums in Milan, Seoul and Dublin.

Sally McCrady, President and President of the PNC Foundation and Executive Vice President and Director of Community Affairs, PNC Financial Services Group, oversees the Pittsburgh region’s support for arts and culture, including PNC Performing Arts, a multi-million dollar fundraising initiative designed to support visual and performing arts organizations and make the arts accessible to all audiences. Since 2009, PNC has awarded more than $ 18 million in grants to cultural organizations in Central Ohio, Southeast Florida, Greater Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey, Delaware and Greater St. Louis.

Some financial services institutions have been sustaining their artistic habit for decades. Take Royal Bank of Canada (RBC): The Toronto multinational has been building its own private art collection since 1929, according to Corrie Jackson, senior curator of RBC’s art collection. In 2003, RBC has expanded its already extensive collection include the work of more emerging artists and support museum residencies and other artistic programs through the founding of the bank. “It really became the moment when the collection really resonated with the art world as a whole,” Jackson said. “There is a realization that supporting the work of living artists [makes for]a more contemporary collection. It becomes a catalyst for conversation.

Roughly 90 percent of 5,000 or more parts RBC-owned works of art are on display at RBC offices in 15 different locations around the world, with a significant portion of the US-based art collection being moved to a new space that will open in 2022, notes Tricia Heuring, coordinator of RBC US Wealth Management at american bank collection. The parts installed in this american collection, which will be based in Minnesota, will all focus on “the human figure and human connection, ”she adds, with the bank rotating various works to“ change the dialogue ”as the exhibition evolves, Heuring adds. In this way, banks such as RBC are not only trying to “improve the workplace” for their employees, but show how the country’s experiences over the past year are reflected in modern art. “That’s how people feel,” she adds. “These are the times we live in.”

Banks often work closely with museums or other established art fairs as active sponsors or supporters of their exhibitions. UBS International Bank did not only collect contemporary art for more than six decades, a collection which includes more than 30,000 works by artists from 70 countries The Swiss bank is a partner of the famous Basel Art contemporary art exhibit for 28 years, also actively supporting the fair’s U.S. exhibit in Miami Beach for the past two decades, said John Mathews, head of high net worth clients for UBS Global Wealth Management Americas.

“The mission of our collection is to acquire and conserve works of art in the communities where we operate, purchasing in the primary market to directly support artists and galleries,” says Mathews. He adds that the bank lends works to art museums and cultural institutions, such as that of Ed Ruscha current solo exhibition in the artist’s hometown of Oklahoma. To make art more accessible, UBS launched its own art gallery in 2019 at its New York headquarters.

And cultural support and awareness isn’t just reserved for the world’s largest financial firms. Based in Kansas City, Missouri Lead bank, with $ 700 million in assets, has waned its engagement in the arts for many years now, said CEO and Vice President Josh Rowland. Renamed in 2008, the previous Garden City Bank “needed a reboot and recovery after emerging from the financial crisis,” Rowland said. “We had the opportunity to rethink what the bank was doing. “

The bank and the Rowland family, majority shareholders, have been involved in the Kansas City performing arts scene for decades. The bank has become more active in its support for the city symphony, and the Kansas City Art Institute, and more recently launched an emerging artist in competition. “As a community bank, [some think]we don’t have millions to spend on art, ”Rowland says. “But we have a mandate to act reactively. These artists are small entrepreneurs, who [are]an economic engine for travel, entertainment and other services. This is critical now that the quarantine is drawing to a close.

Indeed, many art-supporting banks view their sponsorship of local art institutes, symphonies, events and young artist programs as essential to strengthening their local economies, especially at this time with so many businesses hit hard. by the pandemic. “It reflects our investment in the community in a direct and specific way,” says Jackson of RBC.

Jackson’s team and their counterparts in other locations are carefully examining how employees and customers “move around the space” where their art installations are located. They meet with customers and employees to get their feedback, and the bank’s cultural teams try to build a “very diverse” palette of artists from different places, origins, ages and ethnicities. Heuring adds that RBC Minnesota Collection Mount Next Year was designed “not just to be aesthetic” but to feature more artists who are women and people of color.

“We are all still navigating how the artist communities have been affected by COVID, how their audience and their revenue streams have also been affected, ”adds Jackson. “All of this is changing more than ever. “

Bank of America’s De Sisto agrees that part of their program’s mission is to “help museums get through this difficult period. Thinking outside the box to offer art outlets during the one-year quarantine, the bank recently introduced its Moment masterpiece program, where online viewers can virtually visit vast and varied art collections. For art institutes, this is a compelling publicity and the bank has also helped partners in the arts community find new ways to charge for its offerings online, easing the shock of lost ticket sales.

“We work with them, side by side,” says De Sisto. He adds that until recently, digital offerings largely cost museums only, and do not earn them much. “We want to see the local economies do well. And the arts are intrinsic to the health and vitality of our communities.

A frequent contributor to the ABA Banking Journal, Karen Epper Hoffman has written about the financial industry and technology for almost 30 years. His work has been published in American Banker, The Wall Street Journal, PaymentsSource and others.

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