Sustainable Development Goals & the Arts SDG 15 – Life on Land – The Planet, the Arts & Stakeholder’s Value Creation

The concept of stakeholders is widely known as the theory that includes all parties that somehow can be influenced by an “organisation’s objective” (Freeman 1984 p. 46, cited in Mitchell et al., 1997) – “people, groups, institutions” whom an organisation considers responsible for including the “natural environment” (Mitchell 1997), (Thompson et al., 1991 p. 209).

Regarding stakeholders (within the arts), the ethical dilemma here centres on how value is created and traced. The question would then be: how an arts organisation can serve as a continuum element of sustainable practice and ethical value creation by connecting ethics, responsibility and stakeholder needs? The first step to take into the equation of identifying stakeholder value creation is to classify who our stakeholders are. From Kenny’s (2014) standpoint, the correct clustering of stakeholders starts by identifying their “power”, potential relationship, reciprocity levels, dependency, “legitimacy and urgency” (Mitchell et al., 1997).
Following Freeman’s (1984) stakeholder classification approach, one may argue that to recognise value, one may first identify the different boundaries on which each stakeholder rests. The willingness to cooperate identified by Kumar et al. (2015, p. 38) can set the difference in developing a responsible business that can create healthy communities and, consequently, help develop a healthy environment.

In the cultural sector, for example, one can categorise this cooperation as a vital aspect of our ecosystem. To illustrate this further, it serves as a provider of an indirect way of ecological thinking (e.g., performing arts can be seen as a living system of organisations, artists and audiences (stakeholders). A system characterised by interacting elements whose health (equivalent to sustainability) depends significantly on the relationships between all players within and without the system. The interaction and connection of these systems and their sustainable values can enlarge the value of their stakeholders and, at the same time, can serve as a tool to measure the value created and the satisfaction of the stakeholder’s needs. It can also serve as a drive to take action to preserve the ecosystems described in SDG 15 Life on Land (United Nations 2020).

Another aspect that can affect the quality of stakeholders is the megatrends influencing us. In 2020, for example, a new immersion in digitalisation changed how cultural organisations see their stakeholders. A digital revolution exploited after the pandemic mutated at an unexplained speed and consequently fulfilled the megatrend concept of a change we knew. Megatrends are responsible for making stakeholders’ boundaries disappear into new options and thus forcing organisations to create new ways of creating value (Forum for the Future n.d).

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