Small Business Ideas Netherlands – The importance of new business models, the need for “play money”, opportunities and how to “cast” the final combination of users – invite twenty city builders to share their thoughts at a virtual meeting, and they will give you a lot. and tips for developing successful cultural and creative hubs.
Arts and culture are one of the most promising avenues for revitalizing cities and neighborhoods. But what does it take for incubators, cultural hubs and creative hubs to succeed as drivers of sustainable and equitable regional development? During a recent virtual meeting, I worked with twenty other urban planners from the Netherlands to identify tools that urban planners, governments, and developers can use to help their cities thrive. From theater directors to developers to founders to researchers, everyone brought to the table their experience in cultural centers and creative hubs.
Small Business Ideas Netherlands
This adventure started almost by accident with a call on LinkedIn to “call for best practices” in two of my projects, the new cultural centers of Amsterdam and Eindhoven. The overwhelming flow of responses, not only with examples but also interested in sharing knowledge and experience, prompted me to organize a peer-to-peer meeting. This article contains the results of the first session, and the second session is already underway.
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A city without a vibrant and diverse cultural life has no appeal. Take a closer look at the cultural and creative ecosystem of a Dutch city and you’ll see a wide and very diverse field. And this field is usually anchored in certain places. Some “houses of culture” were launched as branches of city and provincial policies. Some creative hubs are the brainchild of cultural and creative entrepreneurs, as is more common in North America. You’ll also find everything from incubators and countless land-building projects. Many of these sites are temporary, sometimes with the intention of moving on once “real” construction begins. But often they are destined to disappear.
Among other cities, the Amsterdam city council has developed a special policy for cultural incubators to support the so-called “broedplaats” groups. The policy gives new life to existing buildings and provides affordable rental space for new cultural and economic initiatives. In this way, hundreds of jobs have been created by the creative community.
In theory, what these places have in common is that they are mixed places where creative minds gather in the broadest sense. Places where fertility between different users leads to new co-programming and exchange of visitor and client groups. But in practice, the success of these spaces varies widely. Why?
In the Netherlands, these spaces are called cultural centers, art buildings or multi-functional centers, and they are often completely new structures that include libraries, theaters, welfare facilities and several other functions. The phenomenon originated in Scandinavia, where each town has its own “Kulturhuset”. Hundreds have sprung up across the country, often stemming from city or state politics.
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It is desirable to co-locate various organizations to create added value for the economy and society. But in practice, everything is not so simple. Often envisioned on paper, these “roommate” collaborations are non-starters. In the field, different parties are too involved in their own issues, or do not have a common vision of the space, or do not see the added value of joint programming. Meanwhile, the political ambitions of such places are skyrocketing.
Cultural hubs are at one end of the spectrum, while at the other end are countless temporary creative and cultural initiatives. Abandoned properties and vacant lots are available for short and long-term rentals as live-work spaces for artists and creatives. Their creative endeavors generate buzz and attract new people, thereby improving the quality of life in the area and thereby improving value for money.
This type of site development has proven to be a very successful strategy for many property owners, developers and city councils, so many companies have now developed a business model to start and operate such temporary sites. Some places thrive and become part of the development of the area, while others die a quiet death when more permanent development arrives.
Looking at this wide range of locations, what is the key to success? Based on conversations with twenty leading experts, here’s a quick summary of the seven success factors.
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At the top of the list is developing the right combination of features. Being “roommates” just out of convenience doesn’t cut it. There should be cross-fertilization of programs and productive exchanges between audience groups. Ideally, a mix of functions will strike a good balance between commercial and non-commercial activities. In this way, the “money order” can absorb the low monetary returns (but high social and environmental returns) of other functions.
At the end of the day, this site is about people, so the trick is getting the right mix of users together. Whether you call it “casting,” scouting, or curating, take your time and care in choosing the right people. The ideal person to do this would be an independent community manager responsible for bringing the right people together, or perhaps the first group of users, but the advantage of the former is that he or she will make more independent choices.
Be clear and bold about what the room represents. As the Dutch say, “If you don’t choose, you don’t get chosen” is the key. A sharp profile is the best way to attract the right partners.
Remember that by choosing one direction, you must exclude others. But trying to be all things to all people is pointless – it just doesn’t work. Fortunately, this pose doesn’t have to be set in stone. This can be part of a growth model that evolves with the size and passion of the site.
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Once partners are found, they must be open and willing to collaborate creatively, especially on content. Stakeholders must work together based on common ownership and common motivation, including city councils, developers and property owners. They must share common aspirations, appreciate the added value of this partnership, and commit to achieving it. Ultimately, making a space successful requires a shared sense of ownership and responsibility.
Such alignment of shared expectations and shared vision is critical not only in the conceptual phase of a project, but also throughout its operations. Therefore, the stakeholders should make a clear agreement with each other about the program, location and management of the space.
A cultural and creative place can only succeed if it is connected to its environment, community and city. It must be in tune with the DNA of the region and cater to the needs of the local population. A project cannot take root in a community unless stakeholders are open to co-creation with local communities.
Express your genuine interest in the local community’s contribution and organize a meeting with the community around you to ask for help. The long-term success of these spaces depends on public support, which is one reason why these spaces should strive to address local urban issues and support the arts and cultural community.
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A space cannot survive without a sustainable revenue model and sound long-term management. Every stakeholder has a role to play in this. Users can work with the property owner to identify ways to create a healthy business model. Continuity depends on a reliable base of fixed income. Art spaces require multiple streams of income: rent, ticket sales, catering, rentals, etc. These types of revenue models include direct and indirect subsidies and financial support from governments or philanthropies.
However, this revenue model is different from retail, catering and residential. A way to drive dialogue between these different stakeholders is the idea of ”multiple value creation” or the “triple bottom line.” Economic, ecological and social values are balanced in creating multiple values – people, planet and profit. Economic profit is socially just, respects the environment and the planet and vice versa; social added value generates income. Creating value in the three sectors is not a short-term task of one organization, it is a long-term collective task of the entire society: users, owners and authorities. The perspective of financial stability should be long – think 25 years, not next season.
A true growth model allows you to start small, experiment, and grow organically. In other words, try not to start out too nice or too big. Be patient and give the initiative room to grow. Success cannot be forced. Without a decent start-up budget, this project will remain a pipe dream, so invest up front to give yourself space to start.
The community – tenants, users and visitors – is the real strength of a place. They create space and act as its ambassadors. At the end of the day, they have to take responsibility for the space, which means giving them mutual input on programming and recruiting.