Harvard i-lab | Models of Organizing in the Arts Ecosystem | Summary and Q&A

November 22, 2013
Harvard Innovation Labs
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Harvard i-lab | Models of Organizing in the Arts Ecosystem


This panel discussion explores the ecosystem of arts and culture organizations, highlighting the importance of understanding the industry for successful cultural entrepreneurship.

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Key Insights

  • 👶 Legacy organizations often struggle to adapt and experiment with new models, while emerging artists may be unaware of alternative funding and support options.
  • 🧑‍🎨 Entrepreneurial skills and commerce can coexist with artistic integrity, providing artists with the means to be economically sustainable while pursuing their passion.
  • 🥰 Diversifying funding streams and demonstrating impact are crucial for sustaining arts organizations.
  • 🥋 Encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration and increasing the audience for various art forms can contribute to the development of the arts ecosystem.
  • 🧑‍🎨 The challenge is to find ways to distribute the value placed on good art more equitably among artists, creating a more balanced market.


hello everyone and welcome again on behalf of uh of my of my fellow panelists i'm only going to like i said last time if you were here last time i uh i did the most boring workshop uh which was last week on the what of cultural entrepreneurship uh today is going to be much more exciting uh on and the topic is how which is kind of cryptic i know tha... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How do artists perceive the invasion of commerce into their artistic worlds?

The perception of commerce in the arts varies among artists, with some viewing it as necessary for sustainability and others seeing it as a threat to artistic integrity. However, the idea of merging artistic vision with entrepreneurial skills is becoming more accepted as a way to support oneself as an artist.

Q: Can you provide examples of organizations that have successfully adopted different models and how it has informed their creative mission?

The panelists highlight the need for more examples of organizations that have successfully adopted alternative models. However, initiatives like the Artist Pension Trust and BIKO are attempting to address the challenges faced by emerging artists and create sustainable models.

Q: How can emerging artists become aware of alternative models for sustainability?

The panelists acknowledge the lack of resources specifically tailored to uncover innovative opportunities for artists. They suggest that artists network beyond their own communities and engage in collaborative discussions with entrepreneurs and business professionals to explore new possibilities.

Q: What funding sources are available for artists and how do different legal structures impact the organization?

Funding sources for artists can vary, including grants, crowdfunding, individual donors, and subscriptions. Legal structures for organizations in the arts sector vary as well and should be chosen carefully based on the specific business model. Seeking expert advice in legal and financial matters is recommended.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The panel aims to shed light on the ecosystem of organizations in the arts and culture world, emphasizing the importance of starting a venture in a familiar industry to increase the likelihood of success.

  • The ecosystem includes legacy organizations, community-based arts organizations, unincorporated initiatives like Burning Man, social cause-focused organizations like Games for Change, and platforms like Kickstarter and Etsy.

  • There is a need for innovative models of sustainability in the arts sector, as legacy organizations often resist sacrificing their traditional models, and emerging artists may not be aware of alternative funding and support options.

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