It’s not easy being an artist in Alberta. Although more than 60 thousand people work in the arts and cultural sectors of Alberta (generating over five billion dollars a year), the industry is competitive, cash flows erratic and dreams underfunded. Plus, that “break the mould” approach to creativity isn’t always an understood mindset when it comes to banking.
Rather than ask artists to conform to a bank’s view of an ideal customer, banking needs to catch up, step up, and meet the unique needs of artists‒for the greater good of all Albertans. Which is exactly why we’re taking a fresh artists-first approach to banking with the ATB Branch for Arts and Culture (or, "The Branch"), launching in Calgary and Edmonton late November.
The Branch will be unlike any other location we’ve opened. In fact, you could say we’re focused on making it as un-banky as possible—c’mon, not all of us at ATB are "left-brained". The Branch for Arts and Culture is built by artists (that happen to be expert bankers), for artists. The team working at The Branch are artists themselves, who intimately understand what it’s like to live and work creatively, and who will be focused on offering a range of solutions to clients with a range of not-so-typical income streams. Beyond providing customized financial services, The Branch hints at a future as an arts venue, morphing into anything from a concert site to a gallery space.
The Branch staff has been talking and listening to artists and creatives to truly understand how we can provide as much support as possible. From workshops for those who need more guidance in their grant applications to a variety of different lending models to connecting our customers with Blue Cross, we know that financial confidence and planning is not as prominent in the arts world as it is in others, and we’re on our way to changing that.
On that note, our left brains are already at work helping artists access ATB’s alternative financing solutions, like ATB BoostR. Our crowdfunding platform allows the village to get directly involved in the journey of a local artist, and also, as a great side benefit, helps us develop new lending and credit models that reflect the lives of creatives. Imagine lending models that include a wider view of credit indicators and take creativity, community and commitment into consideration.
The bottom line is that creative-preneurs are important beyond their creative sphere. They’re innovators. They help bring about significant economic diversification and can spark big changes to communities by fostering and building a pool of top talent, which leads to catching the eye of top employers, new HQs moving in, and a whole heck of a lot of growth. For us, it’s also about putting our money where our mouth is: when we say we’re on a mission to transform banking and help all types of entrepreneurs amplify their business, we mean it.
Check out www.atb.com/thebranch for more details. Looking forward to connecting with our fellow creative-preneurs.