Towards a Way of Teaching Artistic Entrepreneurship – Bootcamp 1.0
Entrepreneurship is a red-hot trend in education today. Every type of school in pretty much
any academic level in Scandinavia is either currently offering entrepreneurial education or is
moving towards doing so. But most methodologies, tools and writings on the subject comes
from a school of thought connected to traditional business. Even though there is many lessons
to be learned from capitalist market-thinking, parts of this paradigm doesn’t translate very well
to the reality felt by students in arts educations. It is therefore of great importance that we
move towards a more tailored approach that takes the special needs of these students — and
lets not forget the lives they wish to live — into account.
Act In Art
The Act In Art initiative 1.0 was designed as an experimental lab. It consisted of two workshops
of in total 6 days duration, with field-testing of ideas in between. It brought together students in
their final years of various arts based educations from Spain, Denmark, Lithuania, Estonia and
Finland. The purpose was to collectively investigate how we could design and test an education
in an artistic entrepreneurial approach by collectively ideating and conducting experiments
within the field in the various home-countries. The result was shared with a network of teachers
in the field of entrepreneurship within higher arts based educations, at a conference in Vilnius.
What do I mean by “experimental lab”?
My simple definition of a lab is: A place in which hypothesis are tested in realtime through the
means of conducting experiments. An experiment would in this case be an action with a
somewhat unpredictable effect.
We start out with an overarching question and through the use of enquiry-based investigation
we move towards designing several experiments that can either validate or discard the
assumptions we had before conducting the experiments.
It is important for a lab to be the most meaningful that we work from the assumptions of the
people who are participating — not “common/general” knowledge. I work from the idea that
entrepreneurship is build on taking actions with an unpredictable outcome. This cannot be
taught by case-studies, and generic methods. We most seek to instigate will in the individual
student, and that becomes a lot easier if we work from their individual realities.
First Gathering – Finland
At our first meeting I had the following criteria:
1. Create an inspiring learning space where all students feels able to investigate, share, play and
2. Create a framework for thinking and having dialogues around art and entrepreneurship and
their personal connection to both topics.
3. Move towards designing experiments that can provide the group with direct experience in
acting entrepreneurial , and can test the assumptions aired during the dialogues.
Creating the learning space
I worked with theatre inspired exercises and play to remove fear and connect the group. These
games and psychical exercises was carried through the entire program. Two students with a
background in theatre eventually took over and offered to start off our mornings. It lead to
beautiful co-creation and made for a very respectful and creative atmosphere.
I also had the students collectively create a framework for how we would be working, based on
dialogues about their needs and aspirations in the learningspace. Throughout the program we
revisited this “rule-book” and made sure it was updated and stayed meaningful as we progressed.
Creating a framework for dialogue.
We worked from my opening question: “What is the place for the academically trained artist in
This lead us into a long investigation. We touched upon the contribution of art, our personal
relationship with it, and how we saw the value in a broader sense. The students reflected
individually on how this value could be brought forth. This lead us to the conclusion that art is
seen as “outside” of society by many, and is therefore understood as an unnecessary “luxury
good” or too abstract to be seen as valuable to the broader population.
Move towards experiments
This finding formed the theme for our experiments:
Invite a group of people to experience your art, that you assume would not otherwise be in
contact with it or see its value.
The students investigated individually who they would invite and challenged each others
assumptions about their choices in smaller groups. We need proceeded to formulate and design
the experiments and used the group to re-view if the experiment met a group of criteria we had
set up collectively. Among others these criteria tested how ambitious, realistic and creative the
experiments would be.
We ended first gathering with a presentation of the experiments and a collective reflection on
Second Gathering – Vilnius
At the second gathering I had the following criteria:
1. Share the experiences and harvest the new knowledge coming from conducting the
2. Introduce a strong framework for working further with the thinking, and look at how they
can take “smarter action”
3. Summarise and “feed forward” all the knowledge created during the summits
Sharing the experiences
Each student presented their experiment. After each presentation we reflected collectively on
the learnings and how it could be have turned out differently or possible with more effect. All
the insights was turned into questions and statements that formed a library for further
The framework for future work
I then provided a framework called “The 8 arch-energies”. It is build on an extensive study into
what types of attitudes, habits or energies can be found in succesful businesses and
organisations. The tool is build as an personal enquiry method done in steps together with a
sparring partner. It creates great insights into where their thinking about business comes from
and how they each posses or lack these energies, Here follows a VERY short description of the
8-Archetypical Energies Explanation Sheet
STORYTELLER – Roots & Purpose
Function: To keep the history alive and present both within the organisation and towards the surrounding world.
Virtues: Creates a strong sense of identity and belonging.
Vices: Connection to past can create romantic ideas that stands in the way of the future.
CARETAKER – Comfort & Empathy
Function: To take care of state of health (connection to body, mind and soul) and everything related to it.
Virtues: Creates an atmosphere with safety and respect for human conditions.
Vices: Can strain energy by seeking too much comfort
RAINMAKER – Emergence & Movement
Function: To sense what is about to happen next and create forward movement.
Virtues: Creates opportunities and senses trends and shifts in tendencies.
Vices: Can become superficial and leave before ideas are “ripe”.
MANAGER – Maintenance & Rituals
Function: To ensure practices are kept and the system is running smoothly.
Virtues: Creates good habits and makes sure standards are met and kept.
Vices: If systems rules over change and people they become rigid and counterproductive.
DESIGNER – “Optimalism” & Opportunity
Function: To keep the meta-perspective and constantly consider improvements.
Virtues: Creates new possibilities through insights and prototyping.
Vices: Never settles and is constantly in a “beta-state” which can be stressful for the surroundings.
ECONOMIST – Investment & Balance
Function: To stay “in the know” about use of resources and the return of (all kinds of) investments.
Virtues: Creates overview of energy use and how to take wise decisions on investment.
Vices: Can get too focused on resources and short returns that leads to a mechanistic worldview.
CRAFTSMAN – Making & Quality
Function: To ensure the highest possible quality through attention to the craft and details.
Virtues: Creates products of highest possible quality through deep knowledge about craft.
Vices: Can get lost in the detail and loose track of the “bigger picture”.
ARTIST – Originality & Wildness
Function: To push the possibilities and stay in contact with radical thinking/doing/making.
Virtues: Creates ideas and concepts with fresh perspectives and extreme originality
Vices: Can get lost in idealism and find it hard to collaborate.
We ended the exploration with sharing findings and methods for working with the various
Feeding forward at the conference
At the conference in Vilnius we invited the teachers into dialogues in smaller groups in which
the students shared their new insights. Finally we created a two-part conversation. First the
students had an open dialogue about what they saw as the challenges in the current
entrepreneurial teaching. The teachers listened in without committing. Afterwards the tables
was turned. The teachers had an open dialogue about what they had heard and their immediate
thoughts about, with the students listening in. We concluded with an open reflection on our
findings and the next possible steps.
Conclusion & thoughts for the future
The program has proved very useful and meaningful to the participants. On top of the actual
training, and the effect of the experiments, it has also created a new international network. One
of the students is currently working on how we can continue the proces and deepen the learning
further. I also sense we are “on to something”. The students express confidence and willingness
to act on their insights. Two very essential parts of being succesful as any kind of entrepreneur. I
deeply recommend that we continue this work and move towards building a strong suite of
frameworks that can be turned into pedagocigal material for all teachers in the arts educations
to use. Our findings from this session should be tested again against another set of students,
and then we will be ready to design actual material. It is my deep wish that this important proces
continues in the name of art!
Morten Nottelmann, 1st October 2015