ARTISTIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP – What can we use it for??

You may have noticed that, I have begun to use this term “Artistic Entrepreneurship”  – and you may have wondered why I use it,  what it is and if it makes sense to use in the art?


In the arts we often have made a divide between art and everything that has to do with business and market. Christian Have (in the video below) states that he think this is a huge mistake – because this thinking places art away from society – somewhat indifferent. Art for art’s sake – well that places art without any particular social significance.


And yes, I do think that art must claim its social significance, it’s no secret at all :). It does not mean that art must be concrete politically. But it means that art have meaning, and that it should be in dialogue with who we are and how we can act in this time and place – even when our values ​​are in conflict with our government. Art have so much to say and can say it in a way that can bring the complexity into play and point to new insights in a poetic way that touches people.


This summer I have spent most of my time producing and presenting the performance meaninglessness, created and performed by the Australian jeweler Susan Cohn in collaboration with David Pledger (Not yet it’s Difficult) – a performance about objects and people addressing the political situation in Denmark and Australia on refugees. Being political in exactly that way, where it moves people and changes their perception about what they are capable of. We just presented it at a big political rally here in Denmark and will soon present it at the Designmuseum in Copenhagen – showing it out of the normal performative place. It’s been highly satisfying to do this project – in such a degree that I went touring for the first time in years and despite the fact that we got no funding for it and it will drain our pockets. But we just need to take our independency seriously – and now the Australian institutions have startet to ask to present it. So we have made some impact I hope.


But artistic entrepreneurship is also about something else – it’s about how we take ownership of our artistic business. How we create innovation and run them in ways that serve artists outside the public institutions. How we proudly provide earnings to our activities by using what we are best at – creativity. I would like to use the term a bit provocatory to shake artists out of support dependency – to teach artists to take full ownership of their work and ideas.


I have spent the last few years diving into the entrepreneurical thinking to learn and understand this side of our work. Mostly based on Roger Hamilton and his thinking and learning – see, for example, GeniusU.


It has come to my attention that the way Entrepreneurs is described often resembles the way we describe the artist – people who are passionate about what they are doing, who quickly catch new ideas and translate them into practice, who invariably try to innovate and dare take chances and go against the stream. Who works hard, experiments and lives with uncertainty.


So I’ve thought maybe we can learn something here. A world of business thinking that I find is inspirational and innovative, open to new ways of thinking. As yes, too, focus is on making money, but at the same time many is very committed to creating social value, taking responsibility for social problems and understanding cultural nuances. And in many places the talk now is about feminine leadership, which inspirers me.


Of course, in the arts, we should not speak uncritically with a language that is not ours or adopt a foreign terminology. But maybe we can be inspired and translate into our own terms. Like the business world can be inspired by our thinking. Most of all because it can give us responsibility for our own work – which I think is so much needed.


One of those who really worked to look at entrepreneurship in relation to the cultural sector and art is Bulgarian / Canadian Lidia Varbanova, who has written a book called “International Entrepreneurship in the Arts” – that I sit here on Bornholm and read and is inspired by. She is both researcher and consultant – and it makes sense for me.


The best part is that I have been allowed to invite her to Copenhagen as part of the organization of Producer’s Platform # 5 on Artistic Entrepreneurship – which the Development Platform is hosting next week and has asked me to plan and facilitate. I’m super proud to do this and have worked hard with it. Besides Lidia, my partner from Spectacle Vivant Bretagne Isabel Andreen will participate  – they will give us perspectives on what entrepreneurship is in our field. Finally, Sofie Haag and I have created an exciting workshop where we intend to teach the participants idea-generating processes and how to create a promotion plan for these ideas.


The seminar is in many ways a continuation of the work I did in the spring to create an online toolbox to work internationally – I would love to get people to try it out and get some feedback on how it works. There is a video below with a link to the first chapter of this.


In the future, I will use this material in my courses and mentorships, so these tools will form the basis of our Artistic Entrepreneurship course in September. If you book a small session with me, you can at the same time make the first workbook about your strategy and I will give feedback on it – I would like to see how it is translated into practice. Just send me an email with the completed workbook and time suggestion.


And yes Artistic Entrepreneurship is also the title of the course we hold on BIRCA 28-30/9 – again with Sofie Haag as a partner, but also with German dance expert Honne Dohrmann. There are still a few places. The course can be bought alone or together with a 5 month mentorship. See more here.