Industries in Depth

How can cultural organisations become more entrepreneurial?

Matt Pickles
Writer, University of Oxford
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A programme run by Oxford University Museums in partnership with experts from the Said Business School aims to teach cultural organisations to be more entrepreneurial.

The Oxford Cultural Leaders programme was held for the first time in March 2015, bringing together a group of leaders to experiment and take risks with new business models and to explore new ways of working and creating organisational cultures that encourage new ideas. The next programme will take place in April 2016.

The programme makes use of the University’s expertise in museums and in business studies and is led by experts including Pegram Harrison and Keith Ruddle of the Said Business School and Diane Lees, director general of the Imperial War Museum.

Lucy Shaw, director of Oxford Cultural Leaders, said: ‘The programme was created in response to the clear message from governments across the globe that cultural organisations need to look beyond the state for their income, demonstrating their commercial acumen and ability to deliver successfully new business models.

‘Oxford Cultural Leaders addresses the need for cultural organisations to reinvent themselves as businesses, albeit not-for-profit, with entrepreneurial ways of thinking and behaving, by developing a cadre of leaders who are able to skilfully and confidently tackle these challenges.’

Tracey Camilleri, director of the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme at the Saïd Business School, said: ‘Future leaders in the cultural sector will need to develop the confidence to think about their organisations as sustainable entities.

‘This will require new skills and approaches – some learned from different sectors and disciplines. The Oxford Cultural Leaders Programme in my view provides a powerful platform for the development of this shared future.’

Rachel Hudson, director of marketing, communications and development at the Shakespeare Birthday Trust, attended Oxford Cultural Leaders last year. She said: ‘Some of the sessions on the programme had a trick or a technique you could take back and instantly use, which has been great and immediately useful.

‘But the sum of the sessions coming together to explore adaptive leadership has had the most impact on me. The programme has made me feel more considered about my career, my professional practice and my leadership style.’

This article is published in collaboration with Oxford Arts Blog. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Matt Pickles is a writer for the Oxford Arts Blog

Image: A man using his mobile phone stands near a glass window at a building. REUTERS/Yuya Shino. 

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