The Arts and Business

Alongside our work training emerging artists from a variety of disciplines, our connection with the international business school, INSEAD in Fontainebleau, has led us to consider whether there are ways in which we could collaborate beneficially with the business sector as our work develops.

Even a preliminary look into the research surrounding the arts and education of all kinds yields some very interesting thoughts. From early folk and chamber music to the grand orchestras and ballets of the modern world, the arts have always been a means of connecting people on a creative and collaborative level. There is a common thread that binds these performers, composers and creative minds together. It is the bond that is created when performers gather to create music, movement and song. There is an unbounded feeling of belonging, unity and cohesion that comes from true creative collaboration. The idea of the Arts in Business workshops is to use music as a way to unify all the participants, creating a learning experience filled with participation and exploration.

‘The skills that the arts develop are creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, communications, self-direction, initiative and collaboration. All these skills- which align with what many educators now refer to as “21st-century skills”- will be needed by every student in order to survive successfully as an adult in an increasingly complex world’. 

HOW THE BRAIN LEARNS (2017), The Brain and the Arts, by David A. Sousa p245

There is an increasing trend in the business world that calls for the kind

of creativity and challenge that derives from artistic collaboration. It is the quest for a connection on a deeper level, creating a team that collaborates more creatively, intuitively and effectively, and one we are interested in investigating further at Performance Arts Lab. Artists from Performance Arts Lab will work with businesses to develop workshop training experiences, and will also provide performances, in return for financial investment in our artist training programmes. 

In addition it will be possible for a business to sponsor an emerging artist and then continue to follow their career in their chosen discipline, developing an individual and mutually rewarding relationship. The workshops will be fully interactive and will help develop the creativity needed to succeed today. We will design a bespoke experience that is tailored to your team using some of the best emerging artists in the world, and we will create a time of transformational interaction using music, movement, body and mind.

The unique vision of Performance Arts Lab, acting as an umbrella organisation to facilitate artistic collaboration, places it in an optimal position to enable the development of extended partnerships with the businesses who are interested in supporting the project financially. The development of a global artistic community is facilitated, and the business community is enriched and enhanced. A wider community built on mutual benefit is created. 

Arts and Business : A synopsis of a typical training day, designed and guided by Chris McComish BMus(Hons)

Limitless energy and effective communication are among the most important things teams need to thrive in the fast-paced world of business. Social media and the ‘dot com’ age have forced companies to rethink their strategies and approach to doing business on a global scale; this can put enormous pressures on teams to perform more consistently and reliably than ever.

Time and time again, music has been proven to enhance skills in all areas of cognitive behaviour. The Arts in Business workshops, with their  team-centric activities, use music to provide a perfect environment for the development of communication skills, teamwork and human connection.

“In a social context, making music in a group has been suggested to increase communication, coordination, cooperation and even empathy between in-group members” (Koelsch, 2010)

In our session with your team, we will make contact prior to the day to discuss and understand the opportunities the group has to improve and to find ways in which we can create a bespoke day to maximise the impact of the activities and get the best from the team. The sessions are divided into clear learning objectives and will be each followed by a debrief session, in which to discuss the metaphors and analogies we discover through the activities, as well as to discover the deeper connections the team make with each other.

Performance Arts Lab team: Chris McComish (lead facilitator), string quartet (additional upon request: professional dancer & vocal facilitator, facilitator’s assistant, video team, photographer and audio recording).

Our team can work with groups of 10 to 50 for these sessions (please enquire about our team energiser sessions which can facilitate up to 200 people at your conference day!).

The aim of these sessions is to create harmony and connection with the team while keeping the workshop fun and interactive, to bring out their creativity while thinking ‘outside of the box’, and to build on their passion points. We aim to enable your team to deliver the best work of their lives, together.

A typical day workshop may include:

1. Positive intent & Finding our Rhythms : Body Percussion warm-up      exercise. (20 mins)

2. Voice and Movement session : (1 Hour)

3. The Communication Grid : Exploring group dynamics and leadership
through gesture and symbolism.
(2 Hours)


4. The Talking Drum : A team in Rhythm, A team in Resonance. (2 Hours)

5. Reflections : Realising our true potential (1 hour)

Drumming up Business


‘‘My journey in music and my passion for its ability to unite and solidify relationships started after a chance meeting with an African djembe drummer passing through Belfast, Northern Ireland, just after I graduated from my classical music degree in 2003.

 I became open to the possibility of using drums to heal and unite and given the political situation in Northern Ireland, I was drawn to the idea of contributing positively to reconciliation through music and song. The thought that music and my favourite language of rhythm could be the common ground to unite a divided community ignited a fire within me.

I travelled to London to study group facilitation skills with a drum circle guru by the name of Arthur Hull from California. I became obsessed with enabling groups of people to share in instant music creation in its most primal form, but I always had my own ideas and twist to what I had learned from others. I moved to London in 2006 after deciding to pursue a career in session drumming and percussion alongside writing and producing music. 

In order to keep myself afloat in a creative career I sought out a job as a facilitator for a drum workshop company and started delivering workshops around the UK and Europe. These workshops were different from the schools, community centres and care homes I had trained myself in as a recent graduate in Belfast, these were businesses such as BT, British Airways, Shell and Orange alongside Health trusts and marketing companies. There were several common threads that arose from my work with these companies. The first was that rhythm was a key to unlocking the spirit of teamwork and unification. The participants would be nervous at first, walking into a room filled with drums, not sure what to expect, by the end of the session they would be dancing, singing and drumming together in unison. The second was the parallel that rhythm instruments have with teams and structures of communication, gradually I would draw attention to these similarities and we would discover these valuable lessons together, coupling my passion for music with their passion for the pursuit of meaningful and effective teamwork. 

I continue to share my passions to this day alongside sharing my teamwork and technology skills as a creative tutor for a large technology brand, I hope to continue my journey with rhythm and connecting people far into the future.”

Chris McComish BMus (hons)