Manifesting the potential that exists between culture and entrepreneurship requires deeper mutual cooperation, writes Andrus Hiiepuu, the CEO of Elisa Estonia. As such, if we want business and culture to go hand in hand, we have to look beyond numbers and logos and find ways of making these two worlds flourish as one.
Culture enables consumers to ascertain and express their identity and affiliations. Through it, people are able to convey their world view, their values, their positions and their feelings. We all agree that the vitality of culture is a yardstick for the health of society. Since, in terms of population, we live in a small country, we must not neglect to think about how our culture can be preserved and what we need to do to ensure it.
A company’s contribution to support for culture largely depends on how important a particular form of culture is to it, what impact said form of culture has on society and how willing and able the company is to contribute to the field in question.
The contribution that companies make to culture must take the form of substantive mutual cooperation
Companies want more than to just financially contribute to the running of a particular event or action: they want to share, work together, get to know one another and discover what they have in common so as to benefit both going forward.
Among the relationships of this kind that we enjoy here in Elisa, we have long been a partner to Northern Europe’s only Category A film festival, PÖFF. As we are also involved in producing original content, our ongoing partnership with PÖFF is both logical and much needed – not only for us to keep on top of what the leading lights in the film industry are doing, but also in terms of invigorating Estonian film-making. And yet in the case of this sort of partnership as well we are not simply talking about logos on a website, but substantive cooperation: looking for opportunities that create value for both parties, such as premieres for Elisa staff, the debut of original series as part of the PÖFF line-up or discounted tickets for Elisa clients. This also requires both parties to be able to get the most out of such cooperation for themselves.
A one-off injection of funds on the part of companies, whichever field they are injected into, may help pull a project back from the brink, but it does not create a basis for a lasting and sustainable future. The strategy of companies for contributing to culture must be well thought through and carefully considered if everyone is to benefit from it.
Shaping a good reputation through active contributions to society is crucial to a company’s success
An attractive employer is one which contributes to carefully selected fields that mean something to its employees. Today, the workplace exists within a much larger social context than it did 20 years ago. Different generations value different aspects within a workplace, and this is something that must be taken into account: working hours are no longer set in stone; remote work has opened up a wealth of possibilities; and the social contribution that a company makes is just as important to its employees as their working environment. All of these changes reflect developments in society that form a set of values – one which every applicant for a job assesses from their own perspective.
When a company embraces social responsibility and fashions a positive image, it not only attracts top-drawer talent, but motivates existing staff and makes them even more dedicated to it. In turn, this fosters the company’s sustainability and growth and ultimately contributes to its long-term success.
Socioeconomic vs economic impact analysis
Support for culture not only has an economic impact but a social dimension, too. Every company has specific fields to which it contributes. Every person in the field of culture has specific goals they want to achieve. In order for cooperation to emerge between them, supply and demand must find each other.
The fact is that for private funding to make its way into culture, a lot of hard work needs to be done. Without carefully considered messages, objectives and wishes this is simply impossible. We are very lucky in Elisa that our partnership with PÖFF over the years has met our expectations and theirs. That cooperation has helped Elisa contribute to film-making more broadly and given us the chance to popularise local content as well.
Theatre, art, literature and film are just some of the forms of culture that fulfil a specific role in society. There are many ways in which culture is professionally created, thanks to which there are plenty of those potentially looking for support. This generates fierce competition. The better thought through, more clearly defined and more socioeconomically considered an offer of cooperation is, the higher the likelihood that it will speak to different companies.