The benefits of culture for business (and vice versa)


Kingstreetimages Producer Maxine King interviews Gibberd Gallery Director Corrina Dunlea about the potentials for growth between business and culture in Harlow for HB Life Magazine June 2015


PART of the blueprint for the new town of Harlow was to create a place for business and industry to thrive, with a unique environment for residents to cohabit with great works of art.

Today’s Harlow is testament to the vision of master planner and architect Frederick Gibberd, interspersed with public sculptures by giants such as Rodin, Moore, Elisabeth Frink, Lynn Chadwick and Ralph Brown, managed by Harlow Art Trust (established in 1953).

“Sir Frederick Gibberd brought an imaginative planning concept to Harlow including a major initiative to spend generously on leisure, the arts and welfare services, strengthening and encouraging community commitment. The sculpture sited in urban areas has become an integral part of the landscape and a familiar aspects of people’s lives,” said Gibberd Gallery Director Corrina Dunlea.

“Strengthening the link between business and culture can benefit the town’s long term strategy, and understanding challenges from both sides can ultimately result in benefits for industry and cultural tourism. Sharing skills in the form of trustees would be one way to stimulate ideas to galvanise and sustain the concept that they are one.”

Corrina Dunlea cites Harlow Enterprise Zone as an opportunity to bring new businesses to Harlow, new jobs, new people and the chance to build a new vision, integrating the arts within the philosophy of business and promoting a holistic view of life. The benefit of the great cultural opportunities that already exist in Harlow Sculpture Town, including tours, trails, galleries, cycle paths, the museum, and the Gibberd Garden should be a strong part of business values to promote to their workforce and instil a new way of encouraging participation and pride.

The fertilisation of culture and business evident in some quarters of Harlow includes Gatehouse Arts, which was set up to regenerate an area of the town centre and to provide studio space to artists. In the past five years it has grown from 12 studio spaces to 50. Parndon Mill situated on the edge of Harlow is also increasing its studio capacity, and is a thriving community to artists and creative businesses.

Gibberd Gallery itself is host to regular business groups for promoting community cohesion and networking. There are other real ways in which Gibberd Gallery has forged links with local business and opportunities have evolved.

Nick Turvey’s exhibition All Alone Together in 2013 at Gibberd Gallery involved Specialist Trade Courses turning the building on of an installation ‘bunker’ in the gallery into training opportunities in construction skills at NVQ certificate level for ten unemployed local people. The exhibition also cultivated a business/culture exchange with Wickes. In exchange for materials Corrina Dunlea mentored a young staff member of Wickes who went on to take part in Gibberd Gallery’s Young Curators programme, and now has a studio at Gatehouse Arts and has just completed an art degree.

Also benefiting from the culture/business exchange are Harlow’s specialist carpenters and joiners Rjays Timber who were commissioned to create high spec 27ft long plinths for the Langlands and Bell exhibition in 2014. This engagement stimulated the company’s direction to work with other creative organisations and galleries. One of Gibberd Gallery’s sponsors Denne construction ran two major projects with Harlow schools and Corrina Dunlea to produce site hoarding designs from children’s artwork.

Since Corrina Dunlea’s appointment as Director of Gibberd Gallery, the central focus for the arts in Harlow, there has been a steady injection of money into the gallery, increased activity and a dynamic, growing programme of events and exhibitions, with free entry. This not only nurtures greater public engagement with the gallery but also increases visitors and trade into Harlow from Essex and beyond.

With core management skills transferred from a background in retail management, Corrina Dunlea said: “I have worked in business and I do understand how tough it is to make a profit, but at the same time I do believe it would benefit business to take the initiative with their workforce and think about our town in terms of how arts, culture and business could benefit everybody.”

“It’s about the next fifty years, and building on the initial vision of having a great prosperous town with lots to be proud of”

Kingstreetimages. Film and Video Production Company. Arts, Culture & Business. T: 01920 413048 E: maxine

Gibberd Gallery. Civic Centre, The Water Gardens, College Square, Harlow CM20 9SB T: 01279 446404

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *