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Creative Entrepreneurship and the Cultural Industries

Creative Entrepreneurship and the Cultural Industries

"Let your watch word be order and your beacon beauty. Think big."

Daniel Burnham, Chicago Architect (1846–1912)



The Banff Centre is the world’s foremost centre for the exploration of creativity and innovation. The Centre is located in Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Treaty 7 territory that has been a gathering place for Indigenous people for up to 14,000 years. We proudly honour this natural and cultural history by offering the Centre’s unique setting as a site of learning and sharing between people from across Canada and around the world.


Our highly creative, multidisciplinary environment is fostered by the annual convergence of up to 7,000 artists, leaders and innovative thinkers, as well as up to 20,000 conference participants who recognize the Centre as a powerful place of inspiration, learning and solution building. This diversity of participants allows for a cross-pollination of ideas and approaches, and for unique collaborations to occur.


For leaders in particular, the Centre acts as a generative space to explore how the application of creativity can give rise to innovative ideas and solutions that are shaped by collaborative approaches, diverse perspectives and forward-thinking ideas. Through the Peter Lougheed Leadership Institute, we are working to further leverage our creative assets and generative space to develop exceptional leaders.


We believe that artistic and creative institutions are essential to the well-being of vital and sustainable communities. For almost 80 years, The Banff Centre has been a professional and creative support for the creative and cultural industries. The positive contributions by arts organizations in Canada are clear. In the most recent statistics available, not-for-profit arts institutions hosted 14 million attendees at a variety of theatre, music, dance, and opera performances in 2010 alone (up 2.8% from 2008), and reported operating revenues of $752 million. Related benefits include revenues from cultural tourism in Canada, which generated $8 billion in 2007. Altogether, the economic impact of the arts and culture sector in Canada in 2011 was $46 billion with 630,000 people employed. Yet, despite the benefits they generate, arts and culture organizations in Canada are struggling to remain viable.


Several major cities have successfully included the arts and culture as part of their revitalization strategies. Studies and research continue to uphold the economic impact and social importance of this investment in the arts. All of this is distinct from the cultural value of these institutions, the creative engine of our collective prosperity.


While training opportunities for the creative industries do exist – from degree-granting programs to short courses – the initiatives tend to be discipline-, genre-, or region-specific, rather than offering training for creative industries professionals across boundaries. Initial results from an environmental scan of existing creative industries programs commissioned by The Banff Centre found that these programs are often limited in size, with demand generally far exceeding capacity. There remains a critical need for programs to develop existing professionals in the creative industries as leaders. We are beginning to address this need.


New opportunities brought about by technological change, increasing local and global competition and increasing individualization are demanding new individual and organizational capacities. Product and process innovation are increasingly important. The creative industries foster the generation of new ideas and the effective leveraging of the knowledge economy to make these ideals real.


The core creative industries are generally defined as advertising, architecture, arts, performing arts, crafts, design, fashion, film, publishing, TV and radio, music, research and development, toys and games, software, and video games. Work in these sectors is defined by:


  • An elevated importance of creativity in production
  • An economic motivation that is more generally intrinsic
  • Complex interactions and operation through networks as opposed to formal structures
  • Narrow timelines



Understanding the nature of entrepreneurship in the creative industries is an emerging field that is only starting to receive attention. We believe the future of work will be increasingly defined by creative people, with great intrinsic motivation, that will create value by interacting through temporary networks with tight timelines. We also see a world of increasing complexity and diversity.We believe that The Banff Centre, as a global leader in developing interdisciplinary creative professionals and leaders, offers a critical voice in building the capacities necessary for individuals and organizations to compete and succeed. Just as Stanford’s approach to design thinking emerged from a School of Engineering that envisioned a future centered on the user, we see a world where the tools of the creative professional must become ubiquitous if we hope to remain competitive.


[During the first week of September, the Banf Center ] saw an intense 5-day program directed at a community of creative professionals. The program was predicated on the assumption that innovative breakthroughs in the future will come from networks of people who can bring together and re-combine different ideas and concepts from diverse domains. To this end, we have launched a process that convenes communities of creative professionals who embody our approach to creation and who thrive in collaborative communities. We enhanced four client partners with highly creative and interdisciplinary project teams to design and deliver on solutions to complex issues related to innovation and leadership. Our Designers are people who are making a difference in their communities and who are committed to manifesting their values in creative ways, in seeking out new perspectives while promoting new voices and bringing people together to create change.



To read more articles about the Banff Co-Create program, click here.


Fore more articles by Jerrold: 

> Buddha's Eyebrows: Why Organizational Creativity Fails

Let's throw technology at it!

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