People often ask me, why do you have artwork in your offices? Why do you choose to sponsor the arts rather than more conventional activities like sports? There are a few reasons.
First and foremost, we have always promoted and valued creativity in the business. For those of us involved in insurance, we know it can be a very traditional and conservative industry. Creativity is not necessarily promoted or rewarded. Following the process tends to be the more popular path.
We had an opportunity with Proclaim to challenge conventional wisdom and create our own processes that worked better for our customers. While you don’t throw out everything that you learned in the industry, if you listen to your customers requirements the solutions you deliver can create a better process. At Proclaim two of our key values are challenging the process and innovative solutions – so 2 of our 7 values are based in creativity in solutions.
Challenging the process means we question what we do and we don’t create or follow a process because it is time honoured. Innovative solutions requires us to consider the requirements of the customers and come up with creative solutions to solve their problems.
So with these values we are trying to promote creativity in ideas. To promote creativity we want to create an environment that fosters that spirit. So we didn’t want a conventional office space. We wanted open plan to encourage dialogue and interaction. We also didn’t want to have boring prints on the wall, or a host of framed football jumpers, as they don’t connect with our values. Instead we have, over our 12 years, collected works of art from emerging artists that we think helps to develop a creative and funky workplace, where our staff can feel free to develop ideas and better solutions for our customers’ problems.
In 2004 we had the opportunity to further our commitment to creativity by engaging in a unique sponsorship with Gertrude Contemporary. Gertrude is an artist studio complex in Fitzroy where 16 emerging artists are given studios for 2 years and supported and developed as career artists. The alumni from Gertrude include some of Australia’s leading artists, including Ricky Swallow, David Noonan and Sean Gladwell.
As part of our sponsorship we engage with Gertude’s artists by visiting their studios and better understanding their creative process. The relationship has evolved to the point that Gertrude staff come to our office once a year and rearrange our collection to keep it fresh and vibrant. They also bring in artists to discuss their works in the collection, most of which are from Gertrude studio artists.
We always wanted to be a little bit different at Proclaim. We think the art works help in a number of ways, by creating a better environment for staff and promoting our values that emphasise creativity and free thinking. And through our support of Gertrude we are making a philanthropic contribution to a great artistic institution, knowing that we also get a return through the interaction our staff has with the art and artists.