Collecting art within law firms became trendy during the 80s, with many large law firms investing in contemporary art to establish themselves as reputable, modern, and fashionable companies. Although this tendency dropped throughout the recession, collecting art has since picked back up as a worthwhile and contemporary activity of a law firm.
It seems that the top two reasons for this are one: employee health and wellbeing in the office, and two: offering support to the local community; specifically local artists and galleries.
Studies have shown that office surroundings actually make a large difference to employee motivation and productivity. The positive impact that art makes to general mood has been shown to boost employee wellbeing and improve the atmosphere of the workplace. As well as adding to the ‘homely’ feel of an office, artworks on display can also make employees feel more relaxed and comfortable in their environment. Comfort in the workplace makes for happiness at work and therefore, productivity gains, making decorative art in the office a worthy investment.
Supporting the local community is something that law firms have been doing for years in the name of ‘CSR.’ Nowadays, large companies are expected to contribute or ‘give back’ to the community in which they operate. Some do this by sponsoring sports teams, giving to charity, or commissioning local artists. Due to the crowded artistic community, young and upcoming artists often find difficulty in getting their work noticed. Large companies- specifically law firms- give these young artists a space for their work to be exhibited and noticed by the wider community- employees and clients of the firm for example. This can be a great first step for upcoming artists, giving them the opportunity to be commissioned and to be showcased in environments with heavy footfall.
Additionally, in an industry that relies heavily on company-client relationships, the investment of art could strengthen these bonds. Art can be a common interest, an interesting conversation-starter, and something for which many people share an appreciation. In this way, employees of the company and clients can bond over a certain style, love of an artist, or interest in an artwork.
Among other reasons law firms invest in art are generally simply partner interest. Partners in a law firm may be particularly invested in the art world already, and would like to bring art in to the corporate setting. They may regularly invest in art, sit on the Board of Trustees for art galleries, or simply appreciate contemporary art.
Many of these collections are private and displayed only behind closed doors, which is why Uart aims to make them accessible for everyone.