Cultural Entrepreneurship – A New Blog Series
Four Rivers’ Interim Program Director, Hope Stewart, is sharing her expertise on “Cultural Entrepreneurship” with us this summer in a new series of posts for non-profit boards, staff, and other stakeholders.
When non-profits discuss their biggest challenges, they are almost always related to funding. There’s a lot to get done and never enough available resources to make it all happen. This can be especially true for organizations working in the heritage and historic preservation fields. Most non-profit missions (hopefully) have an eventual end-goal in mind, such as increased access to education, elimination of hunger, etc. However, the mission of heritage organizations is ongoing and neverending — the need for preservation will always exist. Stories have to be told, and history preserved for perpetuity.
Social Entrepreneurship attempts to address these concerns, creating a business model to develop social solutions. Within the realm of Social Entrepreneurship is Cultural Entrepreneurship. According to Cultural Entrepreneurship News, “Cultural Entrepreneurs are cultural change agents and resourceful visionaries who organize cultural, financial, social and human capital, to generate revenue from a cultural activity. Their innovative solutions result in economically sustainable cultural enterprises that enhance livelihoods and create cultural value and wealth for both creative producers and consumers of cultural services and products.” What this means is they possess the traits commonly associated with entrepreneurs — including foresight, resourcefulness, and the vision to utilize their assets to seek profit for cultural endeavors.
Can this practice be applied to your heritage organization?
Moving towards a model based on the principles of entrepreneurship means expanding your financial strategy beyond donations and membership — it extends to new ways of generating revenue and creating sustainable sources of income. The good news is creativity comes easily to people working in the arts-and-heritage sector. Culture, after all, is an economic activity, possessing high value in social capital. It is not a problem to be solved, but an idea to be “sold.” To avoid being bogged down in the question of mission, or “why is it we do what we do?” — perhaps instead you could be asking “what is our product?” and more importantly “how are we planning to sell it to our constituents?”
Interested in learning how this can be done? Watch for a new series of posts, right here on the Four Rivers website, offering more tips and strategies on how to utilize the principles of Cultural Entrepreneurship for your organization. (Hope S.)