Build a corporate art collection

Written by Allan Britnell

You may have developed your business plan under the watchful eyes of “Dogs Playing Poker”, but you and your company have both grown. It may be time to invest in a few pieces of quality art for your office. An art collection can make a major impression on potential clients and even become a powerful corporate asset. Here are some tips to consider when starting out.

Physics 101 After budget, the physical space available will be an important consideration for choosing artwork. The amount of wall or floor space you wish to dedicate to art and whether your chosen location has natural or artificial light should influence your buying decisions.

Arts counsel Just as you’d hire an interior decorator to furnish your office, there are professional consultants who can help you make the right decisions on art acquisitions. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), for example, has “business selectors” on staff who can help with everything from determining an appropriate style to mounting the work.

Hone your tone The art you choose should reflect your company’s image. For example, a conservative investment firm shouldn’t choose flashy, avant-garde works which might be more appropriate for, say, a leading-edge high tech company looking to make a bold statement. And no matter what your field, there are some taboos. “There are three things that we encourage companies to avoid,” says Liz Evans, general manager of the retail division of the AGO. “Sex, anything political and anything with strong religious themes.” While you may prefer these for your private office or home collection, they’re inappropriate for common areas in the office.

Rent to own Companies on a tight budget should consider renting works of art. Call your local art gallery and inquire. At the AGO, clients can choose from an inventory of 1,000 watercolors, oils, acrylics, photographs and sculptures. Rates range from $15 to $100 a month, depending on the value of the work. “It allows companies to have art in their offices without having to make a huge investment of money,” says Evans. Another advantage: the rental fees are a deductible business expense.

Art appreciation Unlike tables, chairs and computers, art is the one piece of office décor that can actually appreciate in value. “There are some companies that have acquired extensive art collections over the years,” says Evans. “These now sit as meaningful assets on their financial statements.” Think of it as diversifying your portfolio.

Read other pointers on How To contribute to your business success!

© 2003 Allan Britnell

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com