Business and the Arts: A Creative Partnership
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 15 Oct 1987, p. 47-54
Edinborough, Arnold, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
A review of the Arts in Toronto. A look at Canada's cultural history. The founding of Canada's major arts groups. A review of how the major arts groups are funded. Some pioneering schemes at The Council for Business & the Arts. How and why such programmes work. The role of business in the Arts. What they have done, how and why. The aims of government, public and business alike: to revel in our present artistic diversity, quality and depth …"
Date of Original
15 Oct 1987
Language of Item
Copyright Statement
The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
Empire Club of Canada
Agency street/mail address:

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
Arnold Edinborough, President, The Council for Business & the Arts in Canada
October 15, 1987
Chairman: Ronald Goodall, President

Ronald Goodall

This week has been designated Toronto Arts Week recognizing the significant contribution made by the arts to life in Toronto. Today, The Empire Club salutes the arts.

The arts have a profound and everlasting effect on all of us and play an important part in our daily lives. We relieve everyday stress by reading a good book, playing the piano, or listening to music. By music, of course, l refer to that written by the company that includes Mozart, Verdi and Gershwin and not to the screaming of an electric guitarist who, I theorize, has caught his or her fingers in the strings of the guitar.

We are entertained by the magnificent voices of the opera, the intrigue of the theatre and the graceful movement of the ballet. We marvel at the delicate lines of a painting, the reality of a sculpture and the imagination of a native craftsman.

The arts flourish in Canada and Canada has produced artists-writers, dancers, actors, painters-of international acclaim.

We are fortunate today to have with us a man who really knows the arts, Arnold Edinborough. Mr. Edinborough was born and educated in England. His education was interrupted by the Second World War. He served in North Africa and Italy, rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Artillery and was awarded the Military Cross in 1945. His education was then completed by obtaining a Master of Arts degree at Cambridge.

Mr. Edinborough has taught at Queens University, Kingston; has edited the Kingston Whig Standard and Saturday Night magazine; has authored four books; and chairs, or plays an active role in, a number of organizations connected with the arts. His honours include the Order of Canada, the Silver Jubilee Medal and two doctorate degrees. Remarkably, he has found time to be married and raise three children.

Our guest speaker is a member of The Empire Club and has addressed the Club on two other occasions: on March 17, 1960, the address was on the subject, "Sex and Violence on the Bookstalls." He proclaimed, °I am not an expert on dirty books;' and implored us to remove the published trash that unfortunately is still with us today.

On November 14,1974, the sequel was "The High Cost of Leisure;' which did not relate to the earlier address but dwelt upon the need to assist the financing of the arts.

Please welcome Arnold Edinborough, President of The Council for Business & the Arts in Canada, who will address us on "Business and the Arts: A Creative Partnership."

Arnold Edinborough

This week Toronto celebrates the arts. But "the arts" means different things to different people.

A government survey recently arrived at the municipal office of a village in B.C. and asked about the state of the arts in the village, how they were regarded and how they were funded. The village clerk replied: "We are pleased to advise we have four Arts here: Art Johnson, Art Morgan, Art Williams and Art Slinger. They are all pretty well regarded, except Slinger who gets quarrelsome when he's had a few. The first three are all on old age pensions. Slinger, like the rest of his family, is on welfare."

If our city clerk were to answer the same request he would doubtless put Art Eggleton at the top, who is funded by us all to do such things as declare this Celebrate the Arts Week.

And what do we celebrate here in Toronto? What are the arts we celebrate?

First, a symphony which has just been as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far west as Vancouver, playing to people who've never heard a full symphony orchestra before.

Next, an opera company which has just completed the first weeks of its season with Verdi's La Forza Del Destino, beautifully sung and imaginatively staged, and Wagner's Tristan and Isolde which, as I did not see it, I cannot speak of since my opinion would almost certainly not agree with our daily newspaper critics.

Then, the National Ballet Company which got rave reviews in London this summer and will perform in California this next spring for three weeks.

And that's only the big three performing arts groups.

In theatre we have CentreStage-Toronto Free, Tarragon, Passe Muraille, Actor's Lab, and a dozen others. In dance, a whole festival all through the winter at Harbourfront. In music, the Mendelssohn and at least four other choirs, a clutch of chamber groups, plus a pops orchestra and CJRT's own symphony.

In the visual arts, we have a refurbished Royal Ontario Museum gradually opening more and more superbly designed new galleries, an Art Gallery of Ontario, which is about to embark on the last phase of a multimillion-dollar expansion, and a thriving, competitive art market in two major auction houses, the Yorkville area, and Queen Street West.

We constitute the second-largest film audience on the continent and there is not a new building rising in the city which does not have a specially commissioned sculpture outside it on opening day.

All this activity in the arts is relatively new. In fact, the babyboomers, the yuppies, are the first generation to grow up with these cultural riches.

Now it is a perception by many of those under 40 that that activity and cultural choice has been made possible by government funding; that whereas the rest of the world thinks of B.C. as Before Christ, we think of B.C.C. as Before Canada Council, a time just as barren in Canada as the Dark Ages B.C.

This is far too simple, and certainly not a valid interpretation of our cultural history. Long before the Canada Council, concerned and cultured Torontonians, and Canadians in other cities, had founded the major arts groups which are still the flagships of our cultural enterprise.

The Toronto Symphony was founded-refounded in factin 1923. The Canadian Opera Company in 1950. The National Ballet in 1951. The Manitoba Theatre Centre was founded in 1953, as was the Stratford Festival.

Of the top 10 performing arts groups in this country, which between them entertain more than a quarter of all the people who go to professional theatre, ballet, music and dance in a season, eight were founded before the Canada Council or the provincial arts councils were in place, or, for most of them, even planned.

So who founded these groups? Enthusiastic volunteers, businessmen mainly. Businessmen reacting to an idea of a visionary like John Hirsch in Winnipeg or Tom Patterson in Stratford.

And, of course, their wives. For the first 40 seasons of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the women's committee raised more money than the board, which consisted of men.

So when people say that business has only recently become involved in funding the arts, they are wrong. Colonel Gooderham at the TSO, Sir Edmund Walker at the ROM, Vincent Massey and Leonard Brockington at Stratford essentially provided the financing of those institutions at the start, either themselves or through their friends.

What is the situation now? If we take the CBAC sample of 139 performing arts groups in the country with a total revenue close to $200 million, just over half the revenue comes from box office (52 per cent); a third comes from government (34 per cent); and a substantial 12 per cent comes from private donations: a percentage which amounts to some $22 million.

In the visual arts, the picture is different. Private giving is low because most museums, and many galleries, are funded directly by provincial or municipal authorities.

But the great contribution from private and corporate sources is in money for special exhibitions and the donation of works of art. In fact, in 1986-87 Canadian art galleries were given sculptures and paintings valued at over $10 millionmore than double the cash all the 30 major art galleries had allocated for acquisitions.

As an aside, the CBAC statistics commented that if the 30 galleries had pooled all their operating revenue-every nickel of it-they could just have managed to buy Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" at Christie's auction earlier this year.

So corporate and private donations are absolutely essential to our cultural life, and in the past 10 years the corporate community has accepted this fact. To show their acceptance, they have done three things.

First, they have volunteered their people to serve on arts boards and to bring business expertise into the marketing, promoting and publicizing of arts groups. They have offered their skills in accounting, budgeting, computer design, cost control and technological applications of all kinds.

In a scheme we have pioneered at The Council for Business & the Arts called The Young in Art, young, middle-management people are encouraged to volunteer for such board involvement. What we do is ask a group of chief executive officers if we can have access to their middle-management to ask for volunteers. We also survey the smaller arts groups in the city and ask them what skills they are looking for.

We then choose a batch of businessmen with these skills and give them a day-long orientation on how a board works, what problems they are likely to meet and how the art world differs from the corporate world. We also talk to the arts groups to warn them not to ask too much of their new-found talent until they have got the feel of things.

Then we have a referral evening-what I call rather bluntly, a hiring fair. Each arts group brings its chairman and general manager, plus brochures, and sets up a table. The business people then move around and chat until, two hours later, we ask each side to pick its prospects. To our great surprise when we first did it in Toronto, most people picked the organization which in turn had picked them.

So some 50 or more young executives are now serving on some 30 arts boards in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto-with the scheme due to be launched in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal and Halifax/St. John's in the next six months.

Why do CEOs allow this, knowing they will be losing staff time? Because it is a broadening, sharpening, exhilarating experience for their young executives. It gives them responsibility much more quickly than a corporation could. And it is an enriching business experience which makes the volunteer a better manager in his,own office than he would otherwise be. That's the first thing business has done.

The second is to enlarge corporate donations budgets and open them more to culture than they have ever been before. Social service-United Community Fund-still gets a large chunk of the money, plus universities, hospitals and research facilities. But the amount to culture is climbing, especially in those cities like Hamilton and London, where there are only two or three major employers. Stelco and Dofasco in Hamilton; London Life and John Labatt in London.

The third thing is to undertake major sponsorships of arts events. The money for this comes from marketing budgets, not donations, and when most companies' marketing budgets, especially in the retail area, are 20 or 30 times greater than donations budgets, the stakes are higher.

The objectives of a sponsorship have to be clear. They must help to fulfil the corporate marketing plan. Sometimes that plan is very closely allied with the sponsorship.

American Express, for example, offered a small donation for every use of its card in Vancouver, to help fund the Vancouver Partnership, and extended the scheme nationwide to help the National Theatre School, the National Ballet School and the National Youth Orchestra. Pennies per signature added up in the end to $25,000 for each organization. It also meant increased use of the American Express card, at a time when, what with Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club, too many people were leaving home without it.

It is the marketing aspect of sponsorship that has brought business to the fore again in the arts. It is in fact the success of sponsorship which makes people believe business is involved as never before.

And the very large sponsorships do get a lot of attention. No one at Expo 86 last year could be unaware that the Royal Bank was Expo's banker and principal supporter of the Arts Festival. The initial outlay was well in excess of $2 million. But the only place to buy a passport for Expo 86 anywhere in Canada was the Royal Bank, which also retailed the commemorative coins and medals.

Similarly, another $2 million or more was given by PetroCanada to the Olympic Organizing Committee in Calgary so that it could spend another $4 million probably on organizing Share the Flame which is itself a beautifully crafted, superbly handled campaign, part sport, part arts and all business.

Next month the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be doing a multicity tour in all four Atlantic provinces. Evelyn Hart, David Peregrine and the rest of that immensely talented group will bring ballet of a quality rarely if ever seen in places like Glace Bay, Gander, Wolfville and Corner Brook.

It is billed everywhere as the du Maurier Tour of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. It will cost du Maurier an initial cash contribution of some $150,000 for the design, rehearsal and mounting of the program. Twice that will be spent on promoting it. And at this juncture in du Maurier's fight with the government, that is exposure well worth the money.

Similarly, Royal Trust has its name on the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble's tour of the Maritimes and Northern Ontario. The Toronto Symphony shared top billing on its poster with Guaranty Trust, for its recent highly successful Canadian Odyssey. Without the very substantial monies thus supplied, neither tour would have been possible.

What's in it for business, though? Why spend shareholders' money in such quantities on the arts?

For several very good reasons.

• The alliance of a business with a very successful, highly regarded arts group not only reflects the good taste and good judgment of the corporation, it shows that it is concerned about the quality of life in every sense, and supports creativity. We are a trading nation, and creativity is the cutting edge of successful competition.

• The provision of such cultural quality and variety as we now have in this country makes us a nation known outside its borders for a sophistication and energy which is often denied us in the foreign press.

• The existence of such dynamic groups in Toronto as I mentioned at the start of this talk has kept our downtown vibrant, alive and relatively crime-free. It has therefore kept property values up and insurance rates down.

The plurality of funding which business ensures by adding its 12 per cent to the governments keeps arts groups much more in touch with their public than solely state-aided groups would be-and it keeps the prices down to reasonable limits.

Of course we have arguments about the actual motives of business from those who would prefer to think of art as something pure and not necessarily communicating to the public at large.

Of course we have arts groups and artists-a very few, I think-who think the world owes them a living. But the polarity of such discussion is much less now that business is opening up when governments are closing down.

The aim of all, surely-government, public and business alike-is to revel in our present artistic diversity, quality and depth, a diversity, quality and depth which indeed we should celebrate, not only this week, but every week of our richly endowed lives, in Toronto and across the length and breadth of this exhilarating land.

The appreciation of the audience was expressed by Arthur J. Langley, a Past President of The Club.

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.


Business and the Arts: A Creative Partnership

A review of the Arts in Toronto. A look at Canada's cultural history. The founding of Canada's major arts groups. A review of how the major arts groups are funded. Some pioneering schemes at The Council for Business & the Arts. How and why such programmes work. The role of business in the Arts. What they have done, how and why. The aims of government, public and business alike: to revel in our present artistic diversity, quality and depth …"