The call for cultural entrepreneurship is getting bigger, louder and clearer. Entrepreneurial artists are proudly cited time and again as sounding examples in which the underlying message shines through: 'Look, it can be done this way! On Wikipedia cultural entrepreneurship is described as follows: "A cultural entrepreneur is a producer of art who tries to attract as many paying audiences as possible and at the same time strives for a balanced exploitation of his 'enterprise'. (...) Cultural entrepreneurs differ from classical entrepreneurs in that they have an eye for more than the market alone; the artistic value of their 'product' is just as important to them as striving for maximum profit at minimum cost."
Cultural entrepreneurship was introduced in the Netherlands in the 1990s, led by Rick van der Ploeg, state secretary for culture and media in the Kok II cabinet. Meanwhile, led by the VVD, the retreating government is leaving more and more responsibilities in the arts and culture to "the market," and thus this government is calling more and more loudly for cultural entrepreneurship, with which it also seems to want to retroactively provide itself with a rationale for its policy.
What does the call for cultural entrepreneurship mean for artists and other professionals, who are typically not business savvy? Should they run their "enterprise" like commercial enterprises do? Will art, as well as education, be 'marketed' like Mars bars? Or should there also be room for reflection, contemplation, development, precisely to continue to function as artists in that market?
In his book Repressive Liberalism (Valiz, 2013), Pascal Gielen describes the artist's biotope. According to him, it consists of four spaces: the domestics, the community space, the market and the civil space. In the domestic space, the artist is alone at work, researching, trying out, studying and developing theories. The space is focused on development and "inertia" plays an important role there. In the community space, interaction takes place with colleagues, teachers and other professionals, among others. It is the place of reflection, dissensus, confrontation and testing visions against the social context, a space where professional networks form. In both domestics and community space, there is room for experimentation, for trial and error, in contrast to market and civic space.
The market is a space in which every creative good can be exchanged for money; it is more about financial transactions than social relations. Gielen: "Today's stimulated creative entrepreneurship bears fruit mainly within this market space." In this space, practice is "only interesting as a finished, because marketable product. The road taken to that product has little value there."
In civil space, the work is publicly displayed, boundaries that have been crossed are argued and justified, and theory formation takes place. In civilian space, theory becomes commonplace and public discussion and public support are generated, something that "in the pure market is totally unnecessary, even disturbing," Gielen said.
Gielen argues that an artist flourishes best when he moves in all four of these spaces: "(...) a 'healthy biotope' for the artist requires a good balance between the four spaces. A creative who, for example, only dwells in the space of the market or civil space (or stays there too long) eventually lapses into a status quo with his work, because he can hardly develop any more."
From this description by Pascal Gielen, one can argue that entrepreneurial artists must therefore ensure that they remain sufficiently engaged in the domestic and community space to continue to function well in the market and civic space. In other words, the stimulation of cultural entrepreneurship should at all times be accompanied by the stimulation of enterprise in the area of formation and development: residencies, periods of reflection, contemplation with fellow artists, participating in debates, writing articles, and so on and so forth.
Artists who are supported in this can develop better and more powerfully and ultimately present themselves more strongly, in the marketplace - as cultural entrepreneurs - and in civic spaces.