Supporting Creative Business: Cultural Enterprise Office and its clients

Siân Prime Director of the  MA Cultural & Creative Entrepreneurship in ICCE was invited to be respondent and contribute to a seminar held at the University of Glasgow on 3rd March 2014,that was part of the research project “Supporting Creative Business: Cultural Enterprise Office and its clients”. The AHRC funded project investigates how the Cultural Enterprise Office operates as a business support agency for creative sector micro-businesses in Scotland. Led by PI Philip Schlesinger and Co-I Melanie Selfe, it seeks to develop in-depth academic understanding of the workings of public support, provide research-based analysis to assist Cultural Enterprise Office, and analyse what lessons for public support in the cultural field can be drawn from the experience of the service and its clients. By mobilizing and analysing the implicit, embedded knowledge of those providing and receiving support, it aims to revalue organizational experience: transforming fragmented anecdotes into structured evidence, identifying models of best practice in cultural sector support and developing new methods and models for the effective evaluation and evidencing of cultural support initiatives.
Through the detailed case study of Cultural Enterprise Office, the investigation will address the following issues:
  • How does a cultural support agency understand its role and evolve its agenda within the wider policy and economic landscape?
  • How do particular practices, schemes and interventions enable the organisation to achieve its objectives, and to what extent do these activities meet the needs of clients and transform their perceptions and business practices?
  • What are the particular challenges of developing entrepreneurial skills and establishing micro-businesses within different parts of the creative sector? 
  • What can academic research bring to an understanding of agency-client knowledge exchange and how can future knowledge exchange be best facilitated?
  • What key lessons can be drawn from the experience of the service and its clients in relation to the challenges involved in framing and executing policies for support of cultural enterprise in the 21st century?
Whilst clearly situated in the Scottish context, the study addresses pressing issues relevant to a number of wider policy and creative economy debates. Findings are expected to contribute substantially to the understanding of the specific support needs of micro-businesses; the fit between entrepreneurial policy rhetoric and the career aspirations, professional identities and intellectual frameworks of creative workers; the relevance of concepts such as IP for small scale creative enterprise; and the way geographic clustering/dispersal affects the effective delivery of support. Current policy continues to position creativity as the engine of enterprise and economic regeneration. This study will use empirical research to identify the challenges of developing creative reputations and successful business profiles within a notoriously ‘precarious’ sector, and will inform the provision of effective creative sector support.
Siân was invited to participate as she was the founder-Director of the Cultural Enterprise Office, and developed the methodology that is used to support the cultural entrepreneurs. That methodology is still used by the Cultural Enterprise Office. The project has revealed the relevance of that methodology, and recognises the impact that it has on the cultural economy. She spoke about identity, sustainability and biodiversity in the sector,  the need for Universities to develop what Sennett calls and “Architecture of Cooperation” to support knowledge exchange between creative and cultural enterprises and the research and teaching communities to develop craftsmanship. The need to develop  emotional intelligence (all of us in our community of learning)  together with the craft, discipline and practice and abilities to think critically and creatively. She further spoke about Intellectual Property frameworks as much as the business models in the Creative Economy needing transformation