How can arts make business?

Giovanni Schiuma

How arts make business? It is very important to understand what is the relationship between creativity and business. Exploring this relationship I believe we can identify four main areas of relationship.

The first one is the use of arts as an asset for the market and in the last years we have seen that there has been boom. Even during the financial crisis there has been a big boom of the arts market with the idea that arts can be a kind of asset in which to invest and protect capital.

Then there is another area, which is the application of the arts in social context in cultural context as a way to drive the development of social dimension of the society.

And then more recently in the last decades there has been an attention to arts as a creative business sector. The idea is that arts can force the development of new entrepreneur activities. For sure this is an important dimension but we need also to recognise that there are a lot creative businesses and they are somehow struggling. When we think about the creative industry we are talking about a quite a broad sector with many different subsectors. So in particular in the creative sector usually also is the IT. So people working in the software industry are considered within this sector. And these are businesses that are doing well. But in the creative sector there are also a lot of arts organizations. These arts organizations are today struggling there is a cut in the funding from central government or local government. And these small organizations are challenged to find a new source of revenue to support themselves and to support the creativity, to support their passion and to support their impact in society. So the point is that the creative industry for sure is an important sector. It can be considered as a sector creating value. But in itself it is not an answer or is not a possible solution to the challenges of many of the arts organizations.

What I advocate is the fourth area of the relationship between the creative sector and business. The fourth relationship is around building a partnership. If we look at the art and business or arts and society there has been a kind of big gap between art world and the business world. We are thinking the art is something that we can enjoy but not something serious and business is something serious that can provide benefits for our society. So these two worlds in last century have been considered apart. And sometimes the relationship has been one-way relationship with business supporting the arts, with the business providing the idea and good principle for the arts but with arts that have nothing to provide to business world. I believe in the reality that in the 21st century arts can provide a lot of value for business. And what we should be looking for is how we could apply the principles from the creative sector in the traditional sector in order to support the development of new system, more sustainable, more human centred.

So when I think about the creative industry I do not think about industry as a sector in itself but basically as a kind of environment where new experimentations should be explored. And these experimentations are around connection between the creative industry and the more traditional business exploring how they can create the mutual benefits and how from this clash because sometimes it is really a clash of mind-set, new energy can be liberated and new forms of value can be created.

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Giovanni Schiuma

Giovanni Schiuma

Director of the Innovation Insights Hub at University of the Arts London

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