Home Others Jeff Melanson, Others Highlight What Arts Can Do For Young Entrepreneurs

Jeff Melanson, Others Highlight What Arts Can Do For Young Entrepreneurs



There have been many studies over the years linking arts exposure in youth to increased intelligence, better test scores and enhanced creativity. Exposing children to things like music, dance and theatre is also known to increase awareness and empathy, as well as enhance their ability to focus.

While we nurture arts appreciation and inclusion in the youngest members of our society through school programs and extracurricular activity, we seem to forget that interaction with the arts has the same effect on young adults, entrepreneurs and business professionals as well.

In fact, in 2009 researchers from John Hopkins University found a direct correlation between arts exposure and enhanced brain cognition in adults. The study, which followed adults who spent time practicing a specific art like dance or music, found that the neural pathways related to attention had been strengthened for those who had regular exposure and interaction with the arts.

This further bolstered findings from 1993 when researchers concluded that exposure to classical music, specifically Mozart, led to increased cognition in college students. Known as the Mozart Effect, scientists found, “college students exposed to classical music had improved spatial reasoning skills, which are important to success in math and science.”

What’s particularly important to note is that many skills that entrepreneurs need are benefited by exposure to the arts. Skills like creativity, attention to detail and focus and an ability to think differently from the majority are all skills young entrepreneurs need and they are all strengthened by exposure to cultural activities.

Unfortunately, many of today’s entrepreneurs are unaware just how beneficial the arts can be.

In recent years, there has been a renewed push to engage young entrepreneurs, startup founders and business professionals to tap into their creativity through the arts.

Case in point, Creativity at Work, a Vancouver-based consortium of creativity and innovation experts and arts-based learning practitioners, offers corporate arts-based learning experiences centred around reigniting a passion for the arts, while also sparking renewed creativity in the individuals who participate.

“The arts play a vital role in helping us find our authentic voice, and remembering who we are as human beings,” said Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work. “People trust and respect leaders who show their humanity and I believe when we are in touch with our humanity, we envision better futures, and make wiser decisions.”

The correlation between arts and business success comes as no surprise to former president of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), Jeff Melanson, who was instrumental in launching one of the TSO’s most successful engagement campaigns.

Melanson, who also headed the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and the National Ballet School, has also given a Ted Talk on the power of creative expression and its ability to tap into our humanity and inner spirit.

“The arts speak to our inner desire to create and be a part of something larger than ourselves,” said Jeff Melanson. “Not only can exposure to culture make us better thinkers and better people, it also helps entrepreneurs think outside the box and find the inspiration to introduce new innovations and new ways of thinking. Qualities that completely carry over to the business world.”

As enrollment in humanities programs across North America continues to decline, it’s important to remember that, yes, success as an entrepreneur depends on qualities like hard work, organization, leadership and a willingness to take risk.

However, the very core of being an entrepreneur means having the creativity to understand what a market is lacking and find a way to fill that need. Creativity and an ability to think differently also lies at the very heart of being able to overcome the varied challenges of running a new business. Young entrepreneurs should remember that these kind of qualities can be benefited from having an interest and engagement in the arts.