Cultural entrepreneurship, resilience and innovative business models

Cultural entrepreneurship, resilience and innovative business models

By Clare McCullagh


This Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy (AF&P)  Summer school essay by AF&P Fellow Clare McCullagh evaluates the theories and practices of cultural entrepreneurship and considers the impact of adopting new resilient business models on arts fundraising.


If culture has become ‘economically more significant,’ a new type of entrepreneur ready to respond to the inevitable opportunities and challenges that arise from this, was sure to emerge. Cultural entrepreneurship is a term gaining greater prominence as the cultural and creative industries respond to an ever-changing political landscape in the UK and all that comes alongside this.

This paper will introduce definitions of cultural entrepreneurship and ask why arts fundraisers should be paying attention to associated theories and practices now.

Cultural entrepreneurship, resilience and innovative business models are all interconnected and in my opinion, difficult to place in any particular ‘order’ however, this paper strives to consider how arts fundraisers may be encouraged by qualities of cultural entrepreneurship to adopt a new business model, ultimately in the pursuit of greater resilience.

“The part played by culture as the organising principle of society is more important than ever before. It has become economically more significant, as are the ways in which it is used to construct our common understanding”
(Hewison, 2014)

Cultural entrepreneurship

Cultural entrepreneurship is a term which is not easily defined. However, when a term is composed of two words which by themselves do not have clearly agreed definitions, was anything less to be expected? Annette Naudin agrees: “Cultural Entrepreneurship is difficult to define. Are we taking a wide definition of ‘culture’ to include a ‘way of life’ or are we talking about the ‘arts’ or the ‘creative industries’?” (2013).

Although not easily defined, it is a popular topic and academics, journalists and many arts professionals have studied, debated and put forward their own definitions. From these definitions and moreover, throughout this paper, a range of traits and qualities one might associate with a cultural entrepreneur become evident.

Although addressing entrepreneurs only, in her book The Entrepreneurial Personality, Chell discusses important traits called “The ‘Big Three’: need for achievement, locus of control and risk-taking propensity” (2008). She then continues to discuss “evidence of ‘new traits’ that show considerable promise. They include the proactive personality, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, perseverance and intuitive decision-making style”. (Chell, 2008) It should become evident from this paper that these four ‘new traits’ are very much required when choosing to adopt and implement a new business model.

Another quality put forward by Moss which is intriguing in its relation to resilience is that of ‘Futurism.’ He states: “there is a need for entrepreneurs to be able to make informed judgements about things that will impact upon, and be impacted by, the future and events outside the immediate control of the entrepreneur. The ability to be able to do this in a strategic manner is a necessity for an entrepreneur to thrive” (2011).

These are qualities which arts fundraisers should be encouraged and inspired by, in order to keep up with an ever-changing cultural sector.

Download the full essay to read on: 
Cultural entrepreneurship, resilience and innovative business models (PDF)

Resource type: | Published: 2016