Art, Life and Business

music

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), “Twelfth Night”, Act 1 scene 1

Humans are creative beings with a strong creative impulse, and this comes into play in almost all realms of our lives. Even in business, a seemingly dry and uncreative pursuit, art and creativity play important roles. From logos to taglines, businesses use art to peak the interest of clients. In addition, managers of companies often get a “spark” of creative insight or inspiration that drives them to introduce a new product, feature or service for the benefit of their company.

It is generally agreed that art is important and that it enriches the lives of those affected by it. However, does business or government have a responsibility to provide the means for artists to thrive? Does a country have a national interest in cultivating great artists?

Lloyd Masel believes they do. Lloyd moved to Israel from Australia in 1999, where he worked for over 40 years as Sales and Personnel Manager in a retail clothing business chain. Aside from being an active businessman, Lloyd also invested in a rich musical career. He studied the bel canto singing technique with Viennese mezzo-soprano Vali Lewin, and was a finalist in the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Vocal and Concerto competition in Perth. He also held principal tenor roles with the Western Australian Opera Company.

After making aliyah, Lloyd was disheartened to see the multitudes of talented young musicians whose talents were being wasted due to the lack of funding available for artists, and watched sadly as many of them sought their fortunes outside of Israel.

Lloyd is now working on a new musical venture to help young musicians develop their talents. Along with his partner, Tomer Menahemi, he is setting up “Overture,” a program dedicated to helping students fine-tune their singing skills to prepare them for auditions at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music (Tel Aviv University) or the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Read Lloyd’s opinion on the importance of music in Israeli culture, and you will also learn something about the state of the arts in our country:
(The opinions below do not necessarily reflect those of illuminea or its staff.)

Corporate Sponsorships for the Arts
by Lloyd Masel

The arts are often perceived as the playground of the rich, a pursuit reserved for the wealthy. Governments agree, and explain that they cannot fund the arts as long as most of their taxpayers do not belong to the upper class. So, public funding for artistic ventures moves to the back burner, and boils away.

Israel has heavy budgetary constraints. Our social welfare program is over-burdened, and we have a top-heavy defense budget. In this constrained environment, the arts hardly get a nod when it comes to funding allocation.

So to survive, the arts need to look towards private funding, such as corporate sponsorship. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra realized this, and today is a world-class entity. Founded in 1936, this orchestra depends mainly on subscribers and sponsorship for its survival. It is a highly efficient business which is almost self-supporting. They recognized that big government funding is not realistic, and began to encourage for corporate support. Income is limited from door sales since seat prices are beyond the reach of many Israeli citizens, but corporate support is attainable and effectively engineered.

Let’s take a closer look at some of our country’s other musical bodies. We now have a fine opera house and opera company. The New Israeli Opera has grown in stature since the opera house was completed in 1985, and now conducts joint ventures with other opera companies around the world. Yet, it experienced serious financial problems over the past few years. This is difficult for the government to support as seat prices are so steep that opera really only caters for the elite. Once again, private sponsorship is the only way forward for an opera company which aims for rich goals, but with limited resources.

We once had a National Choir of Israel. It no longer exists due to insufficient funding. The list of extinct Israeli artistic groups is almost endless.

With the influx of thousands of musicians from the former Soviet Union there is an abundance of talent in the semi-professional and amateur musical groups. Israel now boasts numerous regional orchestras, dozens of choirs and an abundance of smaller music ensembles. But there is no funding available for most, if not all of them. Many of these groups ask their members to pay for the upkeep, and we are in danger of losing highly talented artists who seek better opportunities outside of Israel. This is a drain on our cultural assets, but it could be arrested if corporate sponsorship was more readily available.

As many of us are aware, Israel is a country rich in human resources and talents. Our hi-tech sector is an example of how we can excel, and this potential for excellence exists in our talented young artists as well. It is a national priority that this talent does not go to waste. Corporate sponsorship of the arts can help society, and even bring positive public relations value to the companies’ balance sheets.

If you are interested in hearing more about Lloyd and Overture, you can contact Lloyd by email at falstaff@zahav.net.il.

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