I am at that point in my research where I have too many questions and not enough answers so I thought I would share a couple of them with you in the hope of some external enlightenment.
My first question concerns the title of my work ' sustainable business models'. Sustainable is such a worthy but rather stodgy word, the financial equivalent of 1970s nut roast; it has also become entangled with the climate change and environmental debates (an area I am touching on but not delving deeply into as this is being tackled elsewhere, notably by Julie's Bicycle and a consortium of the London galleries). What about 'successful business models' instead? I assume that what network members really want to know about is about what works!
The next interesting area requiring the application of 'the little grey cells' is the question of 'overheads' especially 'bricks and mortar'. Even before 'The Great Reset' (to borrow Richard Florida's evocative phrase) many business commentators and futurologists were stressing the power of ideas rather than things to create value and the attractiveness of being able to use assets only when you need them but letting someone else have the bother of managing them (eg cloud computing). Against this background, the arts have invested millions of pounds in wonderful and iconic new spaces for contemporary art. How can this possible circle be squared in a world of free access? I suspect that the answer must lie in forming much closer, more knowledgeable, richer (and more remunerative) relationships with at least some of your audience/visitors. How far are the ideas put forward by Falk & Sheppard in Thriving in the Knowledge Age useful to this sector? This goes far beyond issues around increasing secondary spend and making cafes pay (although both are worth doing) and into the realms of real engagement.
Lastly, good business models and successful business strategies do not just spring into being, they are crafted through hard work and rigorous thinking and leading thinkers on business strategy all agree on the absolute need to align organisational culture with financial objectives. For example, Kaplan & Norton (of Balanced Scorecard fame) talk about the need to take into account and balance 4 key perspectives: learning & growth, business process, customer value proposition and financial strategy.
How far does the culture of the visual arts sector support this kind of hard thinking and value those who do it? How pervasive is the 'disavowal of the economy'? Does the 'subscription model' (Taste Buds 2004) handicap organisations in developing successful and innovative models of operating?
More food for thought in due course
Thanks for reading!