Allenheads Contemporary Arts Business Model Case Study

Allenheads Contemporary Arts Business Model Case Study

By Mark Robinson


Discover how being responsive to potential Revenue Streams has enabled Allenheads to establish a thriving arts community in a rural setting.

Introducing Allenheads Contemporary Arts

Allenheads Contemporary Arts (ACA) was established in 1994 by artist and curators Alan Smith and Helen Ratcliffe. It is a visual arts organisation based in a Victorian schoolhouse overlooking the village of Allenheads in rural Northumberland.

ACA also has an exhibition/studio space in the centre of the village in the old post office and shop.

ACA has designed and delivered innovative contemporary arts projects across diverse specialist subjects, working with experts from universities and commercial industries.

ACA is now run through a company limited by guarantee without share capital. It previously operated as a charitable company, Allenheads Centre for the Arts and Environment, which is still in existence although dormant since 2012.

ACA is very much an integral part of the cultural practice of the directors, but also of their family lives. They live in part of the schoolhouse building with their family, currently holding a residential lease. They use two other parts of the building for ACA and part for bed and breakfast accommodation under a commercial lease from local landowner Lord Allendale. The plan is that a commercial lease for the whole building will be adopted to give greater long-term stability to the organisation and its work.

The Business Model

Allenheads Contemporary Arts is in many ways a good example of the micro-entrepreneurship that has long been part of very small or micro arts organisations.

The founders utilise their skills and assets available to them to create a range of income streams that enable them to sustain their creative practice. In doing so they sustain their working lives and personal or family lives but also make huge investments into the ‘business’ through their own time, efforts and money.

In some ways the model can be seen as precarious. It is certainly hard work and requires dedication and commitment. With those in place the model, as in this case, can prove highly flexible and resilient. ACA is an interesting example of how a model can work to enable artistic activity and lives over a long period.

The business model and the innovations or adaptations that have occurred within it are driven by multiple factors. ACA has been influenced in its development by a combination of the offer, the overall Value Proposition and potential Revenue Streams.

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Allenheads Contemporary Arts Business Model Case Study (PDF)

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Business model Resilience
Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2016