Impact in Arts and Culture

The issue

Personal creative expression is a fundamental human need, and can create and safeguard human dignity. Art can express things that can’t be put into words. There are many powerful examples of people who live in difficult circumstances, whose freedom is restricted for instance, finding other forms of self-expression through art and culture.

In less extreme circumstances, art and culture has a relatively basic function, providing personal and community benefits. On an individual level, it can inspire and encourage change - for both artists and the public alike. At the level of society as a whole, art can bridge divisions and establish links between individuals and groups. There are many examples of the economic upside of Arts and Culture for cities more broadly.

Triodos Bank’s vision

A lively cultural sector cannot be fully dependent on government subsidies and must develop a range of forms of finance. So Triodos Bank wants to be a catalyst for this kind of cultural entrepreneurship.

Triodos Bank wants to invest in artists, institutions and cultural entrepreneurs building important bridges with society. Their work should be both accessible, innovative and challenging. Triodos Bank believes it is essential that institutions link artistic standards with broad accessibility. In this way, art becomes an investment in the vitality of society as whole, from countries, to cities, towns and local neighbourhoods.

Meaningful links to society can be established in many ways. Not just by appealing to a broader public, but also by cultural institutions entering into relationships with other parties, such as, businesses, social institutions and banks. And connections can be made in other ways, like professional performers joining together with their amateur contemporaries.

Triodos Bank is a pioneer financing arts and culture. It invests in innovation and development. Even entrepreneurs who only establish a relationship with quality of life to a limited degree - the usual criteria for Triodos Bank finance – but who demonstrably have a serious intention to strengthen that relationship, are eligible for finance. This may for example mean that Triodos Bank decides to collaborate with a music group that focuses primarily on a small, regular audience, but at the same time is working seriously on achieving broad accessibility. It may also mean that it finances a theatre that generates most of its income from popular productions, and subsequently uses part of those profits to produce less mainstream performances. Assessing the intentions of entrepreneurs is a complicated process that is difficult to detail in measurable criteria. That’s why Triodos Bank maintains a permanent discussion about the assessment process and decisions on finance. Triodos Bank enters in to sustainable, long-term relationships with entrepreneurs. It is important then that the entrepreneur chooses Triodos Bank for more than financial reasons alone. A long-term relationship gives the bank an opportunity to make a real difference, and to cooperate in partnership and contribute ideas to help an entrepreneur achieve his or her goals in the long-term. In that process, Triodos Bank’s network offers clear added value. It brings entrepreneurs together, in an environment of trust, to enable them to learn from one another.

It goes without saying that in deciding whether a project is suitable for finance, an assessment of creditworthiness is also crucial. Only entrepreneurs who represent a responsible investment, from a financial perspective, are eligible for finance. However, considerations about finance and content are brought together in Triodos Bank’s deliberations. This makes good sense, not least because a cultural entrepreneur capable of producing socially-relevant work has a greater chance of attracting more interest, and therefore a better financial result.

So what does Triodos Bank do about it?

Triodos Bank has invested in the cultural sector for many years. Over the past thirty years, it has established a sound reputation for financing individual artists, artists’ collectives and cultural institutions. For many banks, artists represent too great a risk to issue a loan or credit. But this view is not justified in Triodos Bank’s experience.

At 31 December 2010 Triodos Bank has financed 628 Arts and Culture projects. The number of people attending an event is not the only measure of its merit, but is it an indication of the scale of the impact of Triodos Bank’s cultural finance. During 2010 Triodos Bank finance helped make it possible for 3.2 million visitors to enjoy theatres or museums across Europe.


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Amounts in thousands of EUR

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Anne Theresa De Keersmaeker – P.A.R.T.S & Rosas, Belgium (photo)

P.A.R.T.S. & Rosas, Belgium

contemporary dance school
& dance company

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