Whilst preparing my teaching and reviewing my notes about the Business Model Canvas, I came across this article by Sam Mitchell in Arts Professional, in which he discusses business models and how digital developments can support innovation in arts organizations. The examples he cites include a range of initiatives including accessing new audiences as well as projects supporting cultural workers. At the heart of his argument is the notion that reviewing the business model is key to an arts organization’s sustainability and that digital developments can offer some potential solutions.
But what is a business model? Is it just about finding new ways of making money?
The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts recently published a guide to help arts and cultural organizations explore their business model and the possibilities that digital technologies can offer them. First, as the authors of the guide state, a business model is NOT all about revenue although that will be an element, rather it is ‘what you do and how you do it’. According to Osterwalder, Pigneur et al, creators of the Business Model Canvas is an entrepreneurial tool which helps you describe, design, challenge, invent and pivot your business model. This video is a helpful introduction:
For me the important element here is to challenge your business, idea or project. The tool enables us to gain a more holistic overview and to see a business, idea or project as a set of relationships which all impact on each other. For my students, I hope that rather than merely describing an entrepreneurial idea, the business model canvas helps in establishing opportunities for innovation and creativity.
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