Pascale Thumerelle, Founder of Respethica, and Patricia Piriou, Managing Director of Triodos Finance, sat down with the DOC to talk about the importance of sustainable investment in the cultural and creative industries and media sector. Thumerelle will be speaking on the ‘Sustainable finance for culture’ panel at this year’s Rhodes Forum and is launching an initiative with the DOC called ‘Sustainable finance for culture and social cohesion’.
Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute: Investors are more and more aware of their vital role in promoting sustainable development through sustainable finance. Why do they hesitate to address the cultural industries and media sector?
Pascale Thumerelle: It seems the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) and media sector is the investor community’s blind spot, although this sector is of cultural, social, and economic value. Among the reasons for the lack of interest of investors is the heterogeneity of the CCIs and media sector. The complexity of the business model of the sector is another reason: What is the sector’s value creation process? How can its governance be assessed? What are the diverse products and services delivered? Who are the competitors?.
Finally, the CCIs and media sector is often considered as an assisted activity dependent on public funding (taxes), the goodwill of individuals (crowdfunding), or company subsidies (charity). Cultural impact is neglected and often considered as a secondary impact in comparison to social and environmental impacts. This is a misguided analysis. The sector is an economic driver and fully contributes to strengthening the social fabric, the collective will, and the self-esteem of individuals. At a time when the impact of investing is growing, investors could further explore the potential of these arts and culture-related industries.
Nevertheless, a few investors are getting involved in this media and culture-oriented sector and recognise culture as part of their investment portfolio. This is the case for Triodos Bank N.V., a bank based in the Netherlands with branches in Belgium, Germany, and Spain, as well as a subsidiary in the United Kingdom.
DOC: Why does Triodos claim arts and culture as part of their investment process? And how do you measure your investments’ impact in this field?
Patricia Piriou: Triodos defines itself as one of the world’s leading sustainable banks. With €15 billion in total assets, Triodos’ mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental, and cultural change. We are convinced arts and culture play an important role in the personal development of individuals and the cohesion of society as a whole.
To share some outcomes of our investments in arts and culture-oriented companies, Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management helped approximately 3,300 artists and creative companies active in the cultural sector in 2018. Theatre, music, and dance productions from creative companies were attended by 1.2 million people. New productions in 2018 from the film and media sector, financed by Triodos Bank, (most importantly in Spain) were seen by approximately 13 million people. (In 2017 it was 9 million.)
DOC: Pascale, What do you expect from the initiative ‘Sustainable finance for culture and social cohesion’ you are launching with the DOC Research Institute?
Pascale Thumerelle: With this initiative, we expect to bring together different stakeholders so that cultural impact is taken into consideration along with environmental or social impact in the sustainable investment agenda.
Large or emerging investment funds involved in the media and cultural sector, can locally and globally build remarkable bridges between human beings, stimulate individuals’ open minds, and contribute to people’s well-being. Because culture makes a positive contribution to society, it deserves the full attention of the international community as a whole (governments, companies, opinion makers, think tanks, NGOs) if they are sincerely determined to build sustained, peaceful, and creative harmony among human beings.
It’s imperative to address the fears of vulnerable populations affected by accelerated globalisation and migration flows.
DOC: Patricia, since Triodos seems to be one of the first companies to focus on investing in arts and culture, do you expect other investors to follow?
As more and more financial actors pay attention to the impact of what they finance on individuals and society, I certainly expect them, as Triodos has always done, to include arts and culture in the development of sustainable portfolios. This sector is key in broadening perspectives and expressing emotions – both positive and negative – which is very important in times of major social change. It is also a source of economic activity, generating employment and revenues for many individuals.
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