February 22, 2016

Emily Shepperd: On the impact of the arts on society

Emily Shepperd

Emily Shepperd, Chief Operating Officer – EMEA, BNY Mellon


I had the pleasure of visiting a new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London last week, Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse.

The exhibition is sponsored by BNY Mellon and while exploring the fascinating range of paintings on display, I reflected on the role of corporate arts sponsorships and the value of culture to society.

The economic impact of creative culture is frequently discussed. Indeed businesses in Britain’s arts and culture industry are reported to have generated an aggregate turnover of £12.4 billion in 2011. But I think it is important to note the societal impact of the arts too.

I believe there is a strong correlation between cultural engagement and personal and educational fulfilment.

According to Arts Council England, participation in culture is significantly associated with good health and high life satisfaction. Museums and other cultural institutions are often at the heart of our cities with the potential to reach and inspire large and diverse parts of our society. Moreover, structured arts and culture have been shown to improve the cognitive abilities of children and young people.

In many ways, I think a museum or gallery is both lecture hall and laboratory, a place where we can learn about and investigate ourselves and our world, as well as a place for reflection and enjoyment.

Exhibitions help exercise how we think with both our left and right brains, something which is increasingly important. Today’s rapidly evolving global economy demands a dynamic and creative workforce; people who see things differently and are open to exploring new ideas and concepts.

As Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, once said, and I concur, “the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement.”

With philanthropic and government support for the arts under duress, it is all the more imperative that corporations support the vital work of museums and cultural institutions.

This is why BNY Mellon continues its longstanding heritage of supporting the arts.

Public access and education are core components of BNY Mellon’s program of arts sponsorship, which the Royal Academy shows continual commitment to as it strives to engage with the broadest possible audience.

It is our hope the impact of the Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse exhibition reaches far beyond an appreciation of the art’s beauty to inspire all attendees in their lives and work.

To learn more about the exhibition click here.

The exhibition runs until April 20, 2016. If you are visiting London during the time of the exhibition, tickets are available online via this link.

To join the discussion about the exhibition on Twitter, please follow the hashtag #ModernGarden