Art as status symbol and game-changer

Art as status symbol and game-changer

Deeping Creative Practice: a new programme.


16 December 2019

Deeping Creative Practice: a new programme

When thinking of what skills might be needed within an organisation, artistic practice may not be the first thing that comes to mind. 

A traditional association when thinking of art and organisations is when companies collect artwork to be displayed within their buildings as status symbols or stored and hidden from public view. Deutsche Bank, which amassed 70,000 pieces, or Rothko’s corporate work come to mind. Or business-sponsored exhibitions such as BP’s often controversial sponsorship of the British Museum.

However, historically and today, many of our most treasured artworks (eg the Sistine Chapel and the Angel of the North, commissioned by Pope Julius II and Gateshead Council respectively) would not exist if they had not been paid for by those in power.

Art in the workplace can also stimulate, restore and inspire, making the working environment an enjoyable place to be and providing an opportunity to promote local, lesser-known or new artists. Enriching the working space can also mean a boost in productivity and lower stress according to The Guardian and Dr Craig Knight, who has been studying the psychology of working environments at the University of Exeter.

At the Tavistock Institute, we believe that art (in its broadest sense) has a potent and meaningful part to play in organisations, through helping people to make sense of complexity and work creatively through organisational dilemmas in new and challenging ways.

In an increasingly complex world, new approaches are needed to help make sense of difficulties and ambiguity in order to come up with solutions to challenges in organisations. Creative practice, be it craft/ artisanal, theatre, embodiment, film, drawing, happening, fine art, etc., has a pivotal part to play in helping people bring about real change in their environment.

In 2020, we will be beginning Deepening Creative Practice, a transdisciplinary programme in five seasons that encourages participants to explore themselves and unlock their inner creativity through a rigorous arts-based learning programme, culminating in a public manifestation or happening relating to their work.

Through this programme, which will be co-curated by both faculty and participants and include interventions from professional artists, we help participants to thrive and grow in their workplace/community through experimentation and reflection. The programme, which will steadfastly remain emergent, and therefore full of potential, interweaves arts and social science to create a learning experience that cannot be found anywhere else.

We are not alone in recognising the value of an arts-based approach. There has been a movement of organisations that integrate arts into their work and explores what an arts-based approach can do for them. Initiatives such as:

  • Vital Arts: art projects at Barts Health NHS Trust, aiming to improve the environment of the hospital as well as patient and visitor experience.
  • Map Consortium: an organisation that works across a range of sectors, using an arts-based approach to help their clients build trust and humanise their workplaces and environment.
  • SLAM: uses the arts to lead to positive outcomes in mental health and wellbeing.
  • Arts and Business: in Northern Ireland, connects businesses with arts members, local communities and thought leaders from different sectors, in order to give them a differentiated, competitive edge.
  • Theatre, Performance and Society: a series of interviews discussing the role of theatre and performance in culture.
  • Koestler Trust: the UK’s best-known prison arts charity which encourages people in the criminal justice system to change their lives by participating in the arts.
  • Hospital Rooms: for all people in mental health wards to have the freedom to experience extraordinary artworks to provide joy and to stimulate and heal.
  • Theatre of Business: transforming business culture through theatre training

We hope to contribute to this wider movement through encouraging others to experiment, play and learn (and maybe even rebel?) to bring about real and lasting change.

Rachel Hastings-Caplan, Researcher, TIHR

Applications for the Deepening Creative Practice are now open.

If you would like to receive a brochure about the programme, have any questions or would like to speak to one of the programme Directors, please contact Lucy Walker l.walker@tavinstitute.org

We welcome conversations, your ideas, thoughts and questions about the programme.

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations | 63 Gee Street, London, EC1V 3RS
hello@tavinstitute.org | +44 20 7417 0407
Charity No.209706 | Design & build by Modern Activity