Supporting creative business: the Cultural Enterprise Office and its clients

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Arts

Abstract

The Cultural Enterprise Office (CEO) was established in 2002. It is supported by Creative Scotland, Aberdeen City Council, Dundee City Council, The City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow City Council and its services are delivered in partnership with the Business Gateway network. The CEO undertakes a wide range of activities in support of cultural micro-businesses. In line with the EU's definition, 'Micro enterprises are defined as enterprises which employ fewer than 10 people and whose annual turnover or annual balance sheet total does not exceed 2 million euro'. The areas it covers - using specialist advisers - are: digital development, equalities, finance, taxation, human resources, legal affairs, press and publicity, property, marketing and retail. These services are provided for the following creative sectors: community arts, dance, design, fashion and textiles, film, games and apps, literature, music, performance, product design and photography, screen industries and animation, TV and digital media and visual arts.

In recognition of the value that this project will contribute, the CEO's chair and director have offered unrestricted access for research. The organisation wishes to reflect on a decade's work and to make its exceptionally rich database of relations with a wide range of clients across a gamut of cultural practices available for analysis with a view to increasing the CEO's effectiveness and its understanding of the tacit and implicit knowledge that is used in dealing with clients. The research team will offer real time analysis of interactions between clients and the CEO's executive and advisory teams to assess areas of success and those that might be improved. The research will therefore constitute an unprecedented analysis of the workings of a cultural support body and how it engages in knowledge exchange in the creative economy. At the same time, because the research will add very significant new analysis to the CEO's knowledge base, it also exemplifies how academics can engage in highly constructive KE with a cultural support body.

Through the methods outlined below, this study will aim to understand the funding and policy environment in which the CEO operates and how this is translated into its internal imperatives and how these in turn shape relations with clients. The research team will also seek to understand how clients approach the CEO for advice, how this relates to other sources of advice that they might pursue, and how - through case studies - that advice shapes (or does not shape) the development of cultural enterprises. This project constitutes an exceptional and timely opportunity to undertake a full-scale case study that scrutinises how contemporary policy is understood and implemented institutionally and organisationally by a publicly funded cultural agency.

The research will examine the objectives pursued by the CEO; how it fulfils its objectives; and ask what strategic lessons may be drawn from its overall experience. The principal data-gathering techniques include the assessment of documents and texts, analyses of a rich holding of data on clients, archival research, and interviews with board members, staff, advisers, clients and other key policy actors, to all of whom the project team are confident of achieving excellent access. The PI (Schlesinger) and Co-I (Selfe) bring multi-disciplinary expertise in sociological, historical, archival, creative economy and policy analysis.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit?
Non-academic beneficiaries will include the Scottish and UK Governments, policy-makers, and agencies and other support bodies concerned with culture broadly understood at devolved, UK and international levels. In addition, the project is intended to benefit creative micro-businesses.

How will they benefit?
By improving knowledge exchange, the proposed study will increase the effectiveness of public policy and thus help foster an improved economic performance on the part of cultural enterprises. While there is considerable awareness of the problems facing SMEs, the lack of sustainability of cultural micro-businesses has not to date been a pressing concern for policy-makers and support bodies in the UK. The CEO has now raised this as a new policy issue in Scotland. The research will track the impact of the ensuing debate and produce relevant evidence.

More generally, knowledge generated about the experience and performance of the CEO will contribute towards a more informed understanding of how public agendas for support of creative industries can best be implemented.

Policy-makers will benefit from enhanced knowledge about the efficacy of organisational cultures and practices within public bodies dedicated to cultural enterprise, the effectiveness of specific support initiatives, as well as the strategic role that frameworks of public support can play. Improved knowledge in these areas is expected to contribute to a more informed, evidence-based approach to the design of strategies intended to support cultural enterprises at regional, national and international level. By contributing to improved knowledge exchange, the project aims to foster a strengthened policy environment, and thus to improve the ability of cultural businesses to achieve creative and commercial success.

How will engagement and benefit be ensured?
The project team will work in partnership with the CEO to establish contact and forge new links with the wide range of cultural businesses that come within its orbit. Along with the policy-making and advisory bodies to which the CEO relates (the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and others) the project aims to create a network of stakeholders. Regular communication and exchange will be conducted. The project team will foster dialogue with target users via participation in consultations and public debate during the research period. Seminars held at the University of Glasgow's Centre for Cultural Policy Research and at the new AHRC-funded Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy (CREATe), which is headquartered at Glasgow University, will be used to ensure productive engagement with target users. Engagement will also be fostered through targeted attendance at conferences and industry meetings, and an End of Project symposium. This event will bring together policy makers, support agencies, creatives and academics and also have an international dimension. Further benefit will result from the publication of the project's findings for the range of interested audiences following its conclusion.
 
Description 1. The research team has undertaken a path-breaking analysis of Cultural Enterprise Office (CEO), a small cultural business support agency, based in Glasgow. For the first time, to our knowledge, we have undertaken an ethnographic study of how such an agency works and how it fits into the wider policy landscape in the UK and Scotland. Such bodies are significant intermediaries between top-down government policy initiatives and bottom-up developments in microbusinesses and among sole traders.
2. The research has involved extensive observation in CEO with 26 interviews conducted with CEO staff and advisers, 11 interviews with CEO 'stakeholders' and a further 17 with CEO's clients.

3. The research has provided evidence-based analysis to CEO and the team is in the process of developing a body of work that will be of considerable use to future researchers.

4. The research team engaged in 3 formal KE events with CEO - an all-hands workshop for staff and board; a more focused workshop centred on business support; and an end-of-project seminar with wide constituencies and an international dimension.

5. The research team has connected its research with others focused on creative work, notably through the AHRC's Creative Economy Showcase, by way of collaboration with CREATe, the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative economy, and also through our extensive networks.
Exploitation Route 1. The research team has undertaken a path-breaking analysis of Cultural Enterprise Office (CEO), a small cultural business support agency, based in Glasgow. For the first time, to our knowledge, we have undertaken an ethnographic study of how such an agency works and how it fits into the wider policy landscape in the UK and Scotland. Such bodies are significant intermediaries between top-down government policy initiatives and bottom-up developments in microbusinesses and among sole traders.
2. The research has involved extensive observation in CEO with 26 interviews conducted with CEO staff and advisers, 11 interviews with CEO 'stakeholders' and a further 17 with CEO's clients.

3. The research has provided evidence-based analysis to CEO and the team is in the process of developing a body of work that will be of considerable use to future researchers.

4. The research team engaged in 3 formal KE events with CEO - an all-hands workshop for staff and board; a more focused workshop centred on business support; and an end-of-project seminar with wide constituencies and an international dimension.

5. The research team has connected its research with others focused on creative work, notably through the AHRC's Creative Economy Showcase, by way of collaboration with CREATe, the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative economy, and also through our extensive networks.
Sectors Creative Economy

 
Description The findings have fed into the process of conducting support for the creative economy in Scotland and have been incorporated into the practices and shaped aspects of strategy in Cultural Enterprise Office, the body studied by the research. The work has also informed wider discussion by stakeholders in creative economy support, including government, policy-makers, and those working in cognate bodies overseas.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Creative Economy
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Cultural Enterprise Office 
Organisation Cultural Enterprise Office
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The study was a knowledge exchange research project conducted in collaboration with the Glasgow-based agency, Cultural Enterprise Office. Our
Collaborator Contribution Access for ethnographic research of routine activities, access to paperwork, access to board meetings, availability for interviews, presence at knowledge exchange events.
Impact The outputs included collaborative workshops, knowledge exchange of a formal and informal kind, co-presentation of research outcomes at a major AHRC event, an international seminar, continuing networked relationships pertinent to the Scottish creative economy, engagement in the policy process.
Start Year 2013
 
Description All Hands Meeting for Knowledge Exchange 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chair, All Hands knowledge exchange event with Cultural Enterprise Office, and presentation of findings, with Melanie Selfe and Ealasaid Munro, Senate Room, University of Glasgow. 11 November 2013.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Creatives research resource day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chair/organiser, 'Creatives Research Resource Day' and 'Multi-methods case study: researching a cultural agency' a presentation with Melanie Selfe and Ealasaid Munro, A CREATe Capacity Building Event, University of Glasgow, 31 January 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description End of project workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lead organiser, 'Researching Cultural Enterprise Office: end of project seminar'; co-presenter of session on 'Researching Cultural Enterprise Office', with Melanie Selfe and Ealasaid Munro; chair, session 'Researching in the cultural sector: knowledge exchange and impact', University of Glasgow, 3 March 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description International conference presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact 'Researching a moving target:  a study of Scotland's Cultural Enterprise Office' (with Melanie Selfe - presenter - and Ealasaid Munro), 8th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research, University of Hildesheim, Germany, 9-12 September.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Keynote lecture at an international cultural policy conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Opening keynote lecture, 'Creative nexus: understanding and strengthening the relationship between cultural research and practice', 40th Annual Conference on Social Theory, Politics and the Arts, University of Ottawa, 9-11 October 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Knowledge exchange event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Knowledge exchange event with Cultural Enterprise Office's advisers and business support staff, with Melanie Selfe and Ealasaid Munro, University of Glasgow, 13 January 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Knowledge exchange event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 'What is the value of knowledge exchange to academia?' at 'Collaboration interchange: understanding Northern Ireland's creative connections', AHRC-funded Creative Exchange Northern Ireland (CXNI) project advisory committee provocation, Ulster Museum, Belfast, 17 September 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Major AHRC event presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 'Inside the agency: ethnography and knowledge exchange', a presentation with Melanie Selfe and Ealasaid Munro at the AHRC Creative Economy Showcase, 90 York Place, London, 12 March 2014. The research team was joined, for an interview and dialogue, by Deborah Keogh, Director of Cultural Enterprise Office.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014