You know what art is. You know what a pharmacy is. But do you know Art Pharmacy? This newly Certified B Corporation unlocks the therapeutic and soul-enriching qualities of art to transform spaces and humanity.
A team of art curators, placemakers and consultants, Art Pharmacy curates, manages and delivers creative projects that culturally enrich spaces and tell sophisticated, interesting and people‑centric stories about place, community and creativity.
Working across the full spectrum of the art world ‑ with established, emerging, represented, and unrepresented creative practitioners ‑ their aim is to see diverse art in everybody’s everyday that also supports a sustainable creative community.
From workplace art murals and space activations to digital lobbies, this company is delivering art projects that elevate important stories from a vast array of community groups. Let’s find out more.
Photo: Art Pharmacy
Tell us a bit more about Art Pharmacy
Art Pharmacy is a specialist project manager and purveyor of authentic culture. We pride ourselves on our grassroots connection to creative communities, common-sense advice and a nimble approach.
We like to understand the ‘why’ of a project and we aren’t afraid to ask questions and bring fresh perspectives.
We have no commercial affiliations with any galleries, so we are free to recommend the most suitable artists based on your brief and budget, which we do by utilising our huge and ever-growing community of artists. We are constantly looking for fresh artist talent and maintain an engaged artist community as a priority, supporting local artistic talent whenever possible.
Why did you want to certify as a B Corp?
As a business, we care about arts and culture and know the value it has in society. We wanted to enshrine our commitment to this as a business and showcase the work that we do in the creative community.
We believe art is the essence of culture and adds greater value, connection and meaning to our lives. Art is something that bridges gaps, celebrates differences and builds stronger communities.
Art speaks as the voice of society and can facilitate harmony, spark creative problem solving and communicate important messages to help change our world.
Photo: Art Pharmacy
Right now, many arts businesses and the creative industry more broadly are suffering. In some cases, the show literally cannot go on.
Can you share some insight into why that may be and how we can turn it around?
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) recently released some astounding figures on how the general public used public spaces in lockdown. According to the survey, which was conducted in 2020 (and then again in 2021 including around 4000 participants), 45 percent of people spent more time in public spaces than before COVID-19, and 76 percent of people used their public parks more often.
As we see, and continue to see, a change in the use of public spaces, art plays a key role in creating the social fabric of cities and the quality of these spaces.
Art has always been linked to social practice and has repeatedly increased in importance during times of crisis and disruption.
As we flocked to art and open public spaces for distraction, wellbeing and meaning during the pandemic (and continue to do so), it is more important than ever to imbed these spaces with meaningful art that serves the community and contributes to a sense of place.
Photo: Art Pharmacy
With all of this in mind, many people are surprised to learn that:
- While 84 percent of people see ‘Arts and Culture’ as having a positive impact on their lives (source: Australian Arts Council), only 1.2 percent of government expenditure goes to the creative sector, declining by 18.9 percent since 2007 (OECD Australia).
- More than half of Australian citizens said The Arts had a ‘big’ or ‘very big’ impact on their happiness, wellbeing and mental health and that they rely on ‘Arts and Culture’ to live whole and connected lives. Yet business is struggling, with over 50 percent of cultural businesses ceasing to operate as of March 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (The Australia Institute).
- 53 percent of artists’ time is spent on non-arts related work to make ends meet (Macquarie University), with 45 percent of employees in arts services working in precarious employment positions as freelancers, casuals or contractors (The Australian Centre for Future Work).
Without a well funded arts sector, not only do artists lose their livelihoods, the public is deprived of a key factor that contributes to their overall wellbeing, educational development, cultural enrichment, and personal expression.
We need to bring more accessible and inclusive arts and cultural projects into Australian public and private realms, as it adds essential value, connection and meaning to our lives.
Photo: Art Pharmacy
What are some of the problems Art Pharmacy is seeking to solve?
As an arts business we see these challenges everyday and are committed to making a difference in our community. That’s why we target: the lack of meaningful arts and culture in the lives of everyday Australia; and bringing more art into communities by supporting artists struggling to maintain a steady, permanent and reliable income.
Our art consulting service offers our clients holistic solutions to their art needs through creative problem solving. We help clients deal with their larger issues, such as employee satisfaction and community engagement and aesthetic appeal, through creative projects.
We leverage our many years of experience and a genuine passion for the creative community to create great art projects for our clients and artists alike. Our ethical processes and authentic artist engagement enriches the experience for our clients and the wider creative community.
Can you tell us more about your promise to foster and grow artists’ practices?
At Art Pharmacy, it is our mission to support artists to grow their practice by working alongside artists to expand their discipline and work on large project commissions. We also ensure our project fees are always geared in the artist’s favour, meaning that artists are always paid for concepts, regardless of whether they are chosen for the project.
We always ensure diversity amongst the artists we work with and it is written into our processes that we always pitch at least one First Nations artist, one artist from a Cultural and Linguistically Diverse background and include artists with disabilities.
We are always growing and building our artist database, from emerging to established artists, with a particular focus on supporting emerging artists by giving them a platform to showcase their art online without representation. It’s important to us that we provide artists with a portfolio and marketing material to further grow and improve their reach and reputation.
Photo: Art Pharmacy
What makes your B Corp unique as a business?
We care about artists and support them from start to finish. In three years (2019 – 2021) Art Pharmacy has supported over 1,620 artists and contributed over $1,434,000 directly into the creative community, which has reached over 1.2 million people across different States and Territories.
We also ensure to support an equal number of male and female artists (with slightly more women), and we have engaged creatives from over 13 different ethnic backgrounds, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as artists with a disability.
B Corps want to help transform our economy to one that is inclusive, sustainable, and regenerative. What business practice do you want to see become the norm?
More organisations should be committed to supporting our creative communities, whether as employees or allocating an arts budget. We want to see big businesses commit to an arts budget and consider public art as a priority in developments and among multi-use private and public spaces.
Lastly, any tips for aspiring B Corps about the certification process?
It is helpful to have a strategy day with the team and sit down and really think about where you are going and how your social impact fits into your three, five and 10 year plans. Asking: ‘what change do we want to see in the world?’ and leading from there was a core driver that led us to create our Impact Business Model.
It is important to allocate time to understanding the process and journey to certification using the many resources B Lab and others have created.