Social Entrepreneurship And The Creative Sector

“Under any circumstances sociability is the greatest advantage in the struggle for life.” -Pyotr
Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution

It is hard to think of a more natural pairing as between social entrepreneurship and the creative sector. Both stem from a drive within individuals and collectives to make  something for themselves, from their own vision, rather than simply take the world as they find it. Likewise both typically concern having a positive impact on society, although this is not to say that they cannot be profitable. What makes social entrepreneurship distinct from other forms of entrepreneurship, and makes art different from other activities is values that co-exists with or supersede profit. That could be expressing a message that the creator considers important, or simply the inherent value of the activity itself. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) defines social enterprise as follows: “any private activity conducted in the public interest, organised with an entrepreneurial strategy, but whose main purpose is not the maximisation of profits but the attainment of certain economic and social goals, and which has the capacity to bring innovative solutions to the problems of social exclusion and unemployment” (OECD, 2013).

Another shared quality between both of these sectors is the resilience displayed during COVID. People’s ability to attend public functions has had a serious negative impact on the creative sectors, in particular tourism, live music, theatre, and cinema. Likewise received wisdom from traditional businesses is that in financially difficult times people are unwilling to take the kind of risks involved in entrepreneurship. However research undertaken by the Diesis cooperative shows that in situations of economic downturn both social entrepreneurship projects and creative sectors contract less than other areas.

Moreover, we cannot afford to give up on either of these endeavours. Arts and social enterprise concern themselves with human capital, consisting in those very qualities that make life worthwhile, beauty, solidarity, creativity, recognition. Moreover if no action is taken a contraction of the cultural sector will only serve to further exclude those without money or connections from the industry. It is in the context of this pivotal time for the social and artistic sectors that IARS is undertaking our new project, CASYE- Cultural And Social Youth Entrepreneurship. The aim of this project is to provide young people, in particular those who have traditionally faced barriers entering the creative sectors, with the entrepreneurial skills to succeed in these sectors. Specifically, this project will create a robust framework for mentorship that will allow those with experience to pass on, test, and reinforce those skills among their mentees. Now more than ever, when centralized infrastructure and funding opportunities are under threat, is the time to empower young people with the tools and knowledge to pursue their own projects within the cultural sector.

If you would like more information about CASYE-Cultural And Social Youth Entrepreneurship please email contact@iars.org.uk