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Giving, With a Twist
What Goes Around
Could an investment in performing arts groups for youth actually be an investment in the future of your business? Adam Robertson, president and CEO of SCERA Center for the Arts, certainly thinks so. He says when children and teens get involved in orchestra, ballet, choir, theater and symphony productions, they learn valuable real-world skills that carry over into their lives as adults.
“These are your future employees. These are your future clients. Any investment you put into the arts, you’re going to get it back,” Robertson says. “More tools in their toolbox makes [these kids] more prepared than other kids out there.”
Robertson mentions several studies that demonstrate when children are exposed to the arts, they do better in math, science, communication and leadership positions. Studies also show that music instruction helps stimulate brain development, which occurs rapidly during junior high school years. Being part of a group fosters life skills like teamwork, social confidence, trust and interaction with people from different backgrounds.
Britton Davis has been involved with the Utah Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra as a board member and a conductor for 36 years. He also taught junior high school music programs for 30 years and understands the benefits these programs offer to young people.
“Our society spends a lot of energy on athletics,” Davis says. “My experience has been that anything you can learn in football, you can learn in an orchestra—and you can do it for life. Every kid needs an opportunity to play in a band or orchestra.”
Having corporate sponsors allows these types of programs to continue. More than 17,000 children have participated in SCERA’s arts programs and UVYSO offers three orchestras for children and teenagers. Davis says he always pays attention to sponsors listed in performance programs and appreciates the time and money executives donate to the arts. Plus, it’s a good way to get your name and business out in the community.
Ultra Steam, located in Orem, has sponsored events at the SCERA for four years by doing tradework in exchange for tickets and a program listing. Vice President Todd Spencer frequently uses the tickets as prizes to award employees or customers. He says he hasn’t noticed an increase in his business as a direct result of his sponsorship, but he feels his support goes a long way to help those involved with the arts.
“We’ve liked being involved in that little bit of community,” Spencer says. “I think there’s value in it for the community and [the performers].”
As a final incentive to encourage executives to support the arts, Davis describes the UVYSO Acting Up traveling performance group, an advanced high school performance team that competes against hundreds of groups and has brought home numerous awards.
These traveling performances are the first time many of the youth have ever left the state, says Davis. For many, it’s the first time being around people with different beliefs, backgrounds and experiences. Traveling out of state helps these teens connect with people they might not otherwise meet. And interacting with audience members in different regions of the country develops communication skills and empathy.
“This gets kids out of their culture and gives them exposure to something else,” Davis says. “If we’re going to send them out into the world, at some point, as businessmen, we need to get them out in the world sooner—and younger.”
There are numerous programs in Utah that provide opportunities for youth to learn about, perform and appreciate the arts. By sponsoring programs like The Virginia Tanner Creative Dance program or Youth Theater at the U of U, the Salt Lake Children’s Choir or the Utah Youth Symphony, executives can continue to create an art receptive atmosphere that will benefit all involved.
A Ticket to the Arts