Dear HSBC: please support the arts

I heard that the local HSBC bank is pulling its arts funding. That is sad news for the industry, especially when it has and will always need all the support it can get.

Why is HSBC pulling the funding? Rumour has it that its CEO thinks funding the arts provides “no value”.

If this is true then I question said CEO’s “values”.

The arts is often shortchanged and seen as a poorer cousin of the sciences or the wealth creation monolith of finance and economics.

But there is value in the arts by what it gives in ways that cannot be quantified. If it were up to the bean counters, the aesthetics of buildings would never be taken into account when building them. We would go to work or live in grey buildings that all looked the same, give a floor or two because buildings would solely be created on functionality and cost-effectiveness.

HSBC is obviously too fixated on ROI.

“Funding the arts isn’t going to help us sell credit cards, loans or premier services.”

No, it probably won’t. There is no justification, monetary-wise to give money to the arts. Yet taking away arts funding isn’t going to help with the poor image banks and financial institutions have now thanks to the shaky global economy.

Banks take, and trade, on the needs of its customers. Using money held in trusts, banks routinely gamble on what they call “investments”, encouraging consumers to build debt so as to rake in hefty interest on said debt.

While people lose their homes or struggle to survive on credit, the top employees of banks like HSBC still make more money than the poorest of the poor will see in a lifetime.

So is it too much, HSBC, to ask that you give a little back to the community? Is it a lot to ask for what to you constitutes pennies to support creative expression and the things that make life better?

The sciences gives us tools, economics and finance gives us means, but the arts make life worth living.

Kevin Spacey makes a far more eloquent appeal in this video.

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