Most cafe owners get into game because they want to contribute something meaningful. They usually know lots of artists and love the idea of creative experiences happening at their cafes. If customers across the board are also thirsting for meaningful social experiences, why aren't they happening more consistently?
The problem runs deep and a unique coffee roasting experience isn't going to get at it.
While the Cuppa Joe May Be Great, Creative Cafe Life is Bland.
Consider, when is that last time you saw someone engaging that right brain and painting? Did you have a small voice in your head that said, “I want more of that in my life?”
Try this. Go to a cafe, pull out your art supplies, paint anything, and watch onlookers with longing eyes.
When cafe owners and customers both want it, why isn’t creative cafe life flourishing?
And, why are cafe walls blank or sparsely filled with art that goes hardly noticed?
The problem isn’t lack of trying and there’s no lack of talented artists eager to get their art out.
The issue runs deep and reveals 3 opportunities cafe customers and owners can get excited about:
Millennials, increasingly younger generations, and Latino’s are the majority future of cafe goers and they increasingly desire meaningful social experiences.
The pie is only getting larger as the cafe industry is expected to grow substantially.
A majority of people in the United States that say they value art and culture tell a different story when we look at where they invest their money.
How is point # 3 an exciting opportunity?
Because there is an underlying issue here that is bigger than we think and recognizing it for what it is and making a change is going to make life a lot more colorful and fun for everyone.
The problem runs deep, and we are hardly aware of it.
Last week I interviewed owners of prominent cafes in San Francisco. We discovered a similar trend and it highlighted the crux of the arts deficit and its disconnect in mainstream US culture.
To one cafe owner, I described a new Socially Creative program, ColorKlick Cafe. I shared, “We bring social art and creativity into the everyday cafe experience while making you more money as a cafe owner. It’s a financially smart model that supports art and culture.”
I then asked, “upon hearing this what is your initial impression?”
She hesitated. Then said, “I’m not interested in making money from art.”
With ears perked, I got curious...
I discovered that she has been living in San Francisco for a long time. She is sad how art culture has changed in SF and the ways she sees artists being undervalued.
She spoke about her multiple cafe locations. “The walls are open and my cafes are perfect for creative social experiences.” Meanwhile, she says, “for some reason when I invite artist friends to host creative experiences I get crickets.”
I thought: “What have you offered to pay them?” I had a good guess, but didn't go there, yet.
Between the lines tells a story sounding like a broken record of "It's a Small World After All." This is what it says:
"I SUPPORT ARTS AND CULTURE YET MONEY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. MONEY RUINS ART. ART AND MONEY DON’T GO TOGETHER."
What is the result of the arts & money disconnect?
Cafes are social hubs sweeping across the states and across the world. The result of the arts and money disconnect in the US is a homogenous cafe culture scene that doesn’t capture the multicultural brilliance and vibrancy of perspectives truly represented by surrounding communities.
In reality, cafe culture that doesn’t really value arts and culture is contributing to the things cafe owners and goers probably say they're against. That is: gentrification, displacement, and imbalanced power structures that make everybody stressed.
Yeah, cafes are great places to go with your friends or work. But look around. Generally people simply pass each other everyday, their heads down in the phone or on the laptop, and a baseline social barriers hides the magic that's there.
It’s time for a mainstream mindset shift. Cafe’s can lead the way.
Anwen Baumeister at The Well Cafe in Oakland, California, is a visionary. We love working with leaders like her because she sees how arts contribute to a rich, robust, and healthy community.
Anwen also sees with clarity how social art experiences can create an engaging and vibrant cafe life that inspires people to share with their friends. If someone asked you about your day, would you tell about your best cup of coffee or of an energizing conversation that made your whole week better?
Anwen also sees how all these things relate directly to her bottom line and she isn't stopping there. Learn more about her ColorKlick Cafe story here.
A difference between a visionary like Anwen and many other folks who say they value arts and culture is mindset...
As a business owner, and anyone who invests in your dreams, are you willing to think creatively about how to integrate arts into the day to day and get financially smart about it? Or, are you caught up in the stories that disconnect art from money where the creative cafe culture you dream is only a fleeting reality?
Don't let the stories of "not enough time," "I'm not creative," or "art + money = bad" stop you from bringing your magic.
Reframe and change everything. Say it.
"I want to support my community the best I can. That means I make art a core part of my community. This means I’m a local hub for arts and culture and I’m going to get financially smart about how I make this happen so that everyone’s contribution and creative life is supported."
Get smart to make art an everyday thing. It's happening and it will change your life.
We are a social arts company. We build bridges. We make social arts experiences part of everyday life. We bring magic and color to workplaces, conferences, weddings, and more.
Drop in to The Well cafe and see for yourself. Or, check out cocktail week Oakland come September.
See the waves we make (and ride) at www.besociallycreative.com.
Get in touch and get involved. There's space for everybody here.
Jeremy is the CEO and Founder @ Socially Creative LLC.