'Philanthropy in Arts and Culture': a creative approach to social change

The potential of philanthropy to bring about meaningful social change was very high on the agenda at our recent 'Philanthropy in Arts and Culture' master class, facilitated at the world-leading IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Orchestrated and led by Russell Prior, HSBC’s Head of Philanthropy for Europe and the Middle East, with the support of AFAC and IMD Faculty, the event gathered future philanthropists, artists, foundation heads and thought leaders from creative industries all around the world. Philanthropy in Arts and Culture' forms part of our well-established Next Generation programme and saw a focus on the social good that can emanate from philanthropy and impact investing from those who will be making those future decisions- the next generation.

But could it really show people how they can make a difference? The answer is yes. "Philanthropy can be a powerful catalyst for change," remarked Prior. “The masterclass was designed to bring together people whose focus on is the strategic potential of philanthropy and applying thoughtful, focused solutions to achieve defined social outcomes."

Co-facilitator, Oussama Rifahi, is Executive Director of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC). "We live in a region where there is little support for independent artists," he expressed. AFAC is an independent philanthropic institution founded from a need for additional public funding of arts and culture in the Middle East. The fund envisions a thriving arts and culture scene, by cultivating appreciation and engagement with contemporary art in the wider Arab region.

Rifahi went on to say that "We've developed patrons that have started to understand the impact that these projects have on their communities and societies," "Not only do they give money, but they also get engaged with what the donation is designed to do."

Delegates shared and considered numerous real-world examples of philanthropic support for arts and culture projects, ideas resulting in added social value to communities that may not have otherwise received financial backing.

Encouraging examples shared at the masterclass event included photographic projects documenting cultural existence; art skills programs in prisons; granting instruments to musicians; professional scholarship awards; financing cultural entrepreneurs; and funding artist-in-residence programs.

Referring to future philanthropists, Prior concluded positively that, "The Next Generation is much more engaged in social terms. Their minds are open to a broader range of issues and what I see is that they have a real social conscience and they want to do something about these issues”

This event reinforced the strategic potential that thoughtful, focused and sustained philanthropy can have on achieving desired social outcomes.

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