Why should brands get real and foster local community connections?
A brand‘s connection to its local community is more important than ever.
2021 kickstarted with the good news of the COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out worldwide, giving everyone a hopeful spirit and optimistic view of the year ahead. On the other hand, we should acknowledge the fact that it will be years, not months, before any semblance of pre-pandemic life returns. For most businesses, 2020 turned out to be a year of survival and adaptation by exploring alternative strategies and operating models, leading to a re-evaluation of brand identities and target audiences.
The art community across the world was also hit hard by social distancing measures, international travel restrictions and lockdowns, affecting how public and private sectors engage with their audiences. Cultural organisations needed to respond fast to their communities, from funding for artists, curating exhibitions virtually, and keeping conversations rolling through online programmes.
Some may question the need to continue spending resources on culture campaigns and projects when there is a dire need to support the underprivileged, particularly during this ongoing economic slump. We do, however, need to understand that art and culture is not limited to celebrating aesthetic presentation, entertainment for others or artistic expression. Art is a powerful tool to give others a voice, empower a cause or even address social issues. It could be a creative way to connect your communities, even to audiences that do not identify themselves as culture seekers. Here are some of the examples of how individuals or groups utilise art to influence, support, or shape their local communities and beyond:
Topping ArtReview Power 100 list of 2020, Black Lives Matter (BLM) was initially a social media campaign launched in 2013, but the movement continued to grow fiercely in 2020, calling for an international acknowledgement on racial injustice in contemporary culture. From open letters to protest art, online to offline, we saw more collectives and organisations confront cultural institutions (small and big) about their systematic, racial inequality. This led to reform across many directorial teams to display more racial balance and a deeper understanding of cultural diversity.
Caring for community
Para Site, Hong Kong‘s long-standing non-profit contemporary art institution has always focused its support on local and emerging artists. Para Site‘s diverse public programmes pave the way for artists to connect with their target audience and peers. In 2020, the institution introduced PS Paid Studio Visits and later launched ‘NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour‘. Both initiatives were an urgent response to the current crisis to artists‘ livelihood and exposure opportunities.
Diversity and Inclusive
ART Power HK Online Talk: Non-Binary-Code: Utilising art to empower the LGBTQ+ community brought together moderator Aaina Bhargava and speakers Yarli Allison, Justin Chu Ho Ting and Patrick Sun in conversation. The talk explored how the LGBTQ+ community in Asia is utilising art to raise awareness, open up the social attitude towards the topic, and call for the public to be more receptive and understanding of others that might not align with your own opinions. The speakers shared their experiences on the differences and progressing change in attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community between Western and Eastern cultures. While there’s still a long way to go before we become a truly inclusive society, all these little steps are moving in the right direction.
As these examples demonstrate, cultural projects that include and engage local communities are an excellent tool for companies looking to rebrand themselves, raise brand awareness or drive forward a sense of purpose. Presenting an approachable and thoughtful cultural campaign has the potential of not only changing the status quo and strengthing your connection with target audiences, but it also provides a platform to effect long-lasting change that ultimately serves as a brand’s legacy.
To speak to Sinclair about how we can help your brand connect with your audience in new ways, reach out to us here.