About Creative Lenses

Creative Lenses (2015-2019) is a four-year project dedicated to strengthening and developing the business capacity and sustainability of European arts and cultural organisations.

The principal aim of Creative Lenses is to research, devise, innovate and test new business and management models for the sector that can be replicated and then used by a wide range of arts and cultural players throughout Europe.


The project’s vision is to facilitate the development of stronger arts and cultural organisations for a greater social impact.


Its mission is to empower arts and cultural organisations with new methods and tools to become more resilient and create value.


A partnership of 15 arts and cultural centres, performing arts organisations, universities, city authorities, networks and cultural agencies from 9 countries are producing and taking part in the project, which is hoped will have lasting effects on the European arts and cultural landscape. Read more about the project partners.



The project’s activities include 25 workshops, 2 international conferences, 8 Forums, a 10-month Catalyst Programme for eight of the partners to innovate and test new business models, the publication of two books, a business models development toolkit, a digital benchmarking tool and new research on the sector’s specific needs and how they could be supported. Read more about the events.



The project is divided into three phases:


1) First Phase 2015–2016 | Planning & Research

The research component of Creative Lenses aims at describing the business models employed by arts and cultural organisations in Europe, including international comparisons, and how they affect organisations’ capabilities to be social agents.


Several methodologies will be combined in a series of research activities, including a comprehensive literature review, a mapping of best practices in business model innovation in the sector, a business model profiling, eight focus groups and interviews with stakeholders, a survey about how arts and cultural organisations are innovating their business models, etc. Read more about the research.


The outcomes of the investigation will be presented at 8 one-day Forums around Europe in 2016-17: London, Valencia, Helsinki, Kosice, Athens, Lund, Amstelveen and Lecce.

2) Second Phase 2017 | Business Model Innovation Catalyst Programme

This programme aims to identify key challenges for eight cultural centres and theatre companies in order to tackle them through innovative actions. The programme has three main stages: design, implementation and evaluation. The audiences and other key stakeholders of the Catalyst organisations are a central component of the process to evaluate implications and benefits.


The International Conference in Helsinki, Finland, “Managing and Innovating Creative Business Models” to disseminate and share the results of the programme will take on 12 October 2017.


3) Third Phase 2018–2019 | Dissemination

Analyses of the results of the Catalyst programme, resulting in the production of publications, digital tools and training kits.


Fifteen ‘training of the trainers’ workshops will be delivered European-wide to train cultural players to then educate their peers.


Dissemination of the project will also be delivered through online communication, a book, a media campaign and the closing International Conference in Matera, Italy, “The Impact of Creative Business Models” in 2019.



The legacy of the project will be the know-how, tools and support mechanisms required for the European arts and cultural sector to strengthen their business capacity and achieve GREATER financial sustainability, so that they are more able to successfully deliver their missions and create value.


We hope that the involvement of policy makers and stakeholders together with the dissemination of the project’s results, will have an impact on funding schemes and policy development at local, regional, national and European levels.


In these times of challenge and uncertainty, Creative Lenses is a concentrated attempt to devise new ways of working, providing arts and cultural organisations with the possibility to move into the future with confidence.