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Contribution: "Enterprising culture" by Dorota Nigge

Supporting creativity and cultural entrepreneurship

Creativity is a major - and still largely untapped - strategic resource for Europe. It can play a key role to addressing economic and social challenges such as youth unemployment and the integration of migrants. The future of Europe will depend on how it promotes and invests in the education, skills, creativity and innovation potential of its citizens, in particular its young people.

Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship is a key objective of the European Commission that cuts across several strategic priorities: to give a new boost for jobs, growth and investment; to create a connected digital single market and to enhance a deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base. 

Cultural entrepreneurship is not a business opportunity among others nor is it just a skill-set. Cultural entrepreneurs’ goals and values are culturally oriented, contributing to broader societal themes such as universal access to culture, protection and promotion of diversity, aesthetic value and a humanist worldview.

Cultural entrepreneurship - a diagnosis of the challenges? 

Intrinsic characteristics of Cultural and Creative Sectors (CCS): lack of tangible assets, dependence on intangible assets, lack of collateral, high uncertainty of market demand, generation of value over long and uncertain periods of time, etc.

Characteristics of organisations and entrepreneurs within the CCS: small and micro sized enterprises, perceived lack of business skills, dependence on public investment schemes, CCS entrepreneurs’ fear of losing control of their business, etc.

Specific market conditions: cultural and linguistic fragmentation of CCS markets across Europe, lack of good market intelligence, pressure on existing business models (due to digital shift, among others), etc.

Cultural and creative entrepreneurs are innovative, they can provide valuable answers in particular to fighting high youth unemployment and offer attractive and inspiring occupations. Cultural entrepreneurship flourishes in common spaces, where the right conditions are provided to develop creative ideas and bring them to the market. The increasing attractiveness of the concept of creative hubs in the EU can help breathe new life into declined industrial areas, enhance tourism and investment, and provide educational opportunities as well as cultural spaces.

A few examples on how the European Union supports cultural entrepreneurship:

  • Improving access to finance: through the Creative Europe Loan Guarantee Facility to be launched in 2016; a catalogue of good practice on innovative funding instruments for the CCS; and crowd4culture – a project aiming at building up a cultural crowdfunding community
  • Support to creative hubs and clusters: by establishing a network of creative hubs: 

An EU-wide network of creative hubs and co-working spaces for cultural and creative professionals and entrepreneurs will stimulate exchanges of experience and best practice between EU creative hubs , a form of capacity-building for creative hub managers and cultural professionals and entrepreneurs.

Interested in joining this Creative Hub network? Please contact:   

  • Support to the networking of young creative entrepreneurs from the EU and third countries.

The aim is to create a Platform gathering existing networks of young entrepreneurs in cultural and creative sectors in the EU and third countries, and facilitating the creation of new networks. The Platform will enable connections/exchanges between professionals from Europe and third countries and help a new generation of creative professionals to accelerate their professional development. It will include coaching, peer-learning, conferences, study visits and participation in match-making events with representatives of cultural and creative sectors around the world.

Interested in joining this Platform? Please contact:  

  • Support to cities and regions through peer learning for local authorities, including on cultural entrepreneurship, under the Culture for Cities and Regions project
  • Startup Europe aims to strengthen the business environment for web and ICT entrepreneurs so that their ideas and business can start and grow in the EU
  • Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs - funded by COSME, the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs.
  • Dialogue with EU Member States: an expert group on developing the entrepreneurship and innovation potential of the cultural and creative sectors was set up in early 2016. Experts will identify good practice of business support measures to cultural and creative entrepreneurs and develop policy recommendations.
  • Support to the development of new business models within the Creative Europe programme
  • Supporting SME competitiveness and entrepreneurship in cultural and creative industries as a priority for the EU Structural and Investment Funds (more than 80 regions have chosen Cultural and Creative Industries to be a priority for their Smart Specialisation Strategies).

About Dorota Nigge, policy officer responsible for the policy development in support to the cultural and creative sectors, European Commission

Dorota Nigge works at the European Commission as a policy officer responsible for the policy development in support to the cultural and creative sectors (Directorate General Education and Culture, unit in charge of innovation and cultural diversity). She is in charge of initiatives in relation to cultural entrepreneurship and innovation, access to finance for the CCS and crowdfunding. Before joining the EU institutions in 2005, she worked as policy analyst at the University of Cologne, the Trans European Policy Studies Association, and the Institute of Public Affairs in Warsaw. She has also dealt with EU affairs at the Polish Ministry of Culture.