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Cultural Entrepreneurship Hubs: bidding goodbye to the “starving artist”

People working in the cultural and creative sector often lack business know-how. To remedy this, the Goethe-Institut has joined forces with Munich University’s Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE) to promote a spirit of entrepreneurship among artists and cultural professionals. It is currently based in three Cultural Entrepreneurship Hubs in Greece, Indonesia and South Africa to open up business prospects for creative professionals.

Whether in design, music or literature, many artists see innovation as a top priority and seek to use their work to challenge society or to create new artistic provision outside the mainstream. To earn a living, however, cultural and creative professionals must also follow business principles - something that is very alien to many of them.

Art and business are not mutually exclusive

Over recent years, the cultural and creative industries around the world have become a dynamic sector of the economy. Most companies in the sector are microbusinesses, and while profits tend to be low in some sub-markets, other sectors – such as the software and games industry – are commercially highly successful.

German politicians value the creative industries because the help to make Germany more innovative and competitive but also for their contribution to social cohesion against a backdrop of digitalisation and globalisation.

  • Source (c) German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, 2009

    The 11 sub-markets of the creative sector (in German only)

  • Source (c) National Accounts, Destatis, 2016c; Centre for European Economic Research calculations

    Germany’s cultural and creative industries are a key part of its economy  (in German only)

    The gross value added by the cultural and creative industries between 2014 and 2016 was higher than that of the chemical industry or the financial services sector.

  • Source (c) International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC)

    Cultural Times – the First Global Map of Cultural and Creative Industries (2015)

    Global profits from the television industry in 2015 were the highest of any creative market, while fine and visual arts employed the largest number of people.

Opening up new prospects through entrepreneurship

Cultural and creative professionals often lack the commercial and economic know-how to sell their work and ideas profitably. The Goethe-Institut is therefore collaborating with Munich University’s Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE) to develop the entrepreneurial skills of cultural and creative professionals and enable them to market their products more effectively and to access or create new markets.

With financial support from the German Federal Foreign Office, three Cultural Entrepreneurship Hubs have been set up in Greece, Indonesia and South Africa. The Hubs will enable cultural and creative sector professionals to acquire entrepreneurship skills and help them start their own business.

There are no “lone wolves” here. As project coordinator Dr Johann-Jakob Wulf of the Goethe-Institut explains, “We offer artists wishing to start their own business the opportunity of networking nationally and internationally, particularly with the creative sector in Germany, and of developing their own ideas into a larger vision.”

Networking, training, cooperation

The three Hubs have already become popular points of contact for creative professionals. Each is completely different, reflecting the differing art and culture scene in Jakarta, Johannesburg and Thessaloniki.

  • Dumisane Kweyama – Photo (c) Goethe-Institut/Loredana LaRocca

    Johannesburg: the in-house Hub

    In the South African Hub, situated in the Goethe-Institut library in Johannesburg, a curated mentoring programme provides six months’ training for 12 cultural and creative professionals as they work on their business ideas. Anyone interested can seek advice and make contacts.

    One of those benefitting from the Johannesburg Hub is shoemaker Dumisane Kweyama from Durban. The Hub gave him the inspiration to perceive and market his shoes not just as footwear but also as cultural products. His shoe colours and designs are typical of the region, and he sources his leather from local villages. Dumisane Kweyama has also started to think on a larger scale: he has been able to sell shoes for considerably higher prices in another part of the city and to give the communities supplying his leather a share in the extra profits.

  • Made Ayu – Photo (c) Goethe-Institut/Loredana LaRocca

    Jakarta: the university Hub

    The Cultural Entrepreneurship Hub in the Indonesian capital is working with the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Surakarta to design new content for its entrepreneurship curriculum. For students wishing to set up their own business, the Hub offers a mentoring programme in conjunction with the Institute.

    Made Ayu used the Hub to access advice and tips for her business idea. She wants to use local organic food to invite foreign visitors to gain a wider impression of Indonesian culture than they get from mass tourism. For example, she organises tours to observe fruit-picking and tea-harvesting as an alternative to the standard beach holiday.

  • Eleni Koumara – Photo (c) Loredana LaRocca

    Thessaloniki: the network Hub

    This Hub operates primarily as a networking point for the city’s well-established cultural and creative scene. In cooperation with the city council, the University and other creative industry centres, it offers tailored training and advisory services to Hub users.

    Eleni Koumara has turned her passion for jewellery into a commercial operation. Her jewellery collection uses Greek stones and draws on themes from Thessaloniki’s history. The Hub made it possible for her to travel to the Munich Jewellery Week international trade fair, where she made lots of contacts with other artists and was able to find out about tapping into new markets and cooperation arrangements.

For the Goethe-Institut, these Hubs are an important way of strengthening the cultural sector, developing artists’ skills and networking young professionals with institutions both in Germany and worldwide. Above all, the Hubs aim to bring culture and the private sector closer together. “These sectors are being increasingly considered separately,” says Dr Johann-Jakob Wulf; “We want to create ways of linking them more effectively.” Many creative and cultural artists will want to use these structures to get new inspiration, to access new markets and to create new business opportunities for their work.

Video: Cultural Entrepreneurship Hubs at the Munich Creative Business Week

Do you work in the cultural and creative industries? Or are you considering starting a business in this sector? What has been your experience? Would you advise others to make a career in the arts or cultural industries? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Author: Susanne Reiff, to the point communication

October 2018

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