In this interview we talk with Çağıl Özdemir about the concept (and practicalities) of cultural entrepreneurship. But what exactly does that mean..?
In short, “cultural entrepreneurship has become a means to use culture and arts for bringing a societal change” (Entrepreneur Magazine)
Or (according to the University of Minnesota) it’s “an emerging discipline that examines how cultural products (such as art, theater, and literature) and cultural activities (like sports, music, food, and film events) have an impact on the growth of local, national, and global economies.”
As a cultural entrepreneur with a background in political science, media and communication, Çağıl Özdemir is the right person to talk to.
She is the founder of 3dots Venture Studio which sets out to expand their reach in culture and creative industries, sharing what they have learned along the way with other founders and industry professionals.
3dots channels the untapped potential of the culture and creative industries in an entrepreneurial mindset in order to create scalable and adaptable business models. It cultivates the power of collaboration, creativity, and culture to drive social and economic change in culture and creative industries.
You can find the full interview below, but here are four takeaways that stuck out to us.
- Cultural Entrepreneurship can serve as a catalyst for artistic innovation by incubating and establishing powerful ideas with a business mindset.
- Every artist needs time to “not-create” and gather experiences and inspiration in order to get into that productive creative process.
- Musicians are already entrepreneurs in this day and age and there are many similarities between creative industries and startup culture which are useful to explore.
Here’s the full interview…
What are your current cultural projects and how do you implement 3dots’ vision into them during the pre-production phase?
At 3dots, we are dedicated to promoting collaboration, innovation, sustainability, and community building through our cultural projects. Our portfolio includes:
XJAZZ Istanbul: A jazz festival in Istanbul, Turkey, for which we are partners of the preceding festival, XJAZZ, founded in Germany in 2014.
KEŞİF: A spin-off of the Bozcaada Jazz Festival, which aims to connect brands and communities with shared values (to be launched soon).
Bergama Theatre Festival: A performing arts festival that bridges Berlin and Bergama, highlighting their shared cultural heritage through events, open dialogues, and art production.
Omnea: A project that explores futuristic metaspaces, gamified experiences, and innovative art events, among other things.
Space Goats: A music content company that supports and promotes new and emerging artists in the music industry, acting as an artist agency and record label, while also creating creative content for the culture industry.
3dots Accelerator 001: A custom program for founders in the culture and creative industries, providing a unique approach that leverages our diverse backgrounds, entrepreneurial experience, and tailored program to support and mentor each founder.
We adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and focus on the potential impact of the culture and creative industries on society, economy and the environment, while also providing a customized approach for each founder through our tailored program.
Can you tell us more about the notion of Culture Entrepreneurship and its potential for social change?
As founders ourselves, at 3dots, we recently started to focus our vision and mission around the concept of Cultural Entrepreneurship, which we believe fits our professional approach the best.
Cultural Entrepreneurship refers to the creation and management of cultural products, services, and experiences with the goal of generating both economic and social value. It involves applying an entrepreneurial mindset and business principles to the development, promotion, and distribution of cultural products and services.
Moreover, Cultural Entrepreneurship can play a crucial role in promoting sustainable and inclusive practices in the cultural industry, as technology has made it easier for people to access creative products and services, thereby increasing reach, impact, influence and diversity.
But above all Cultural Entrepreneurship can help to drive social, economic, and political transformation by leveraging the power of arts, culture, and creativity.
Cultural entrepreneurs can help to shape new narratives, spark creative thinking, and mobilize communities to address social issues. They can bring attention to important issues, promote diversity and inclusion, and foster greater understanding and empathy among people from different backgrounds by using their talents and resources to create new cultural expressions and institutions.
How can Culture Entrepreneurship support Artistic Innovation?
At 3dots, we recognize that start-ups in the cultural and creative industries face unique challenges that go beyond the realm of artistic innovation.
Through our own experiences as founders, and via engagement with other stakeholders in the sector, we have identified these challenges and validated the needs of various founders in the industry.
While Cultural Entrepreneurship will certainly support artistic innovation, as it creates a wider outlet for creativity and creators, we believe that it has the potential to touch and evolve even more areas, offering solutions to a wider range of challenges by channeling positive social, economic and environmental impact.
Moreover, Cultural Entrepreneurship can serve as a catalyst for artistic innovation by incubating and establishing powerful ideas with a business mindset.
As a fundamental aspect of the culture and creative industries, artistic innovation, whether it is a new technique or a method, can thrive within the scope of Cultural Entrepreneurship, given the proper infusion of business validation.
The transformation of creative ideas into sustainable and scalable business models can also ensure fair distribution of resources and outcomes and result in an ecosystem that is, hopefully, reaching its full potential by any means.
Where do you see technology converging with culture? And what are your predictions for the upcoming years in terms of best practices?
Having worked and studied on these subjects for over a decade now, I’ve had numerous chances to be part of this convergence and examine the research process around it. I’m always trying to read and learn more and as I’ve gone along with my studies as well as my career, it has become more prominent that this convergence is inevitable.
Technology and culture are converging in many different ways, and this convergence is likely to continue in the coming years. One way that technology is converging with culture is through the use of digital media and platforms to create, share, and distribute cultural products and experiences. This includes the use of social media, online platforms, and other digital technologies to promote and market cultural products.
Another way that technology is converging with culture is through the use of new technologies to enhance and enrich cultural experiences. Technological advances are driving the emergence of new business models, such as those enabled by Web3 and decentralization, which could potentially transform our understanding of the world.
This also includes the use of virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and other technologies to create immersive and interactive experiences.
On the other hand I think we will be starting to witness a structural shift as Web3 and other recent technologies offer new ways and methods of how cultural products are produced and distributed.
Our ideas regarding this convergence, as in the examples of Dall-e, Midjourney, Chatgpt and other artificial intelligence systems will challenge what we have deemed artful and creative thoroughly in the future. I think that this new chapter will gradually affect the methods, forms and techniques that we create and people who are “creative”.
To say the least, I am excited to see what the future holds for us.
At the same time because of this very reason, as I have mentioned above, the way we perceive and experience art and culture will be altered too. Even the culture, at its core of accumulating knowledge and customs, itself massively will continue to be shaped by the global and online community and evolve in micro and macro levels continuously.
The convergence of technology and culture will likely continue to shape the way that cultural products and experiences are created, shared, and consumed in the coming years, and therefore cultural entrepreneurs will need to be adaptable and forward-thinking in order to stay relevant in this rapidly changing landscape and have to have skills to keep up with this transformation.
How can technology & inter-connectedness support an artist’s productivity & overall well-being?
By today’s standards, many artists are setting their conditions towards being able to work remotely and have mobility. Technology is inevitably and luckily providing that mobility.
What the “consumers” mostly overlook is the fact that in order to create, artists need to charge themselves with new inspirations and methods and gather their ideas. Have a nest and rest on them.
Being trained as an artist, I’ve had many chances to observe my peers. Some artists travel during this time, some artists wait tables, some artists teach; but every artist needs time to “not-create” and gather experiences, inspirations you may also say, in order to get in that productive creative process eventually.
The technology helps them to stay in touch with their partners, colleagues, and maybe the brands they are bound to but combined with inter-connectedness, this gives them to freedom to be at their most creative space, in their most creative time, without having to stay still or do something that doesn’t necessarily fertilise their ideas.
For an artist, the better their creative space and the more freedom they have over their expression, the better their well-being is, since the art and creation comes from within. And for an artist, the more satisfied they are with their product, the more satisfied they are with themselves.
What are your go-to resources and processes while starting up a creative production? How are the projects evolving?
The methods to enhance the creative process vary from person to person and you may have to try different ones to find what works best for you.
It boils down to some key steps, but the evolution of a creative project will depend on its specific goals and needs. It usually involves setting goals, developing a plan and timeline, securing resources, and managing and executing the project with the right team.
When it comes to securing resources for a creative production, researching funding options such as grants, loans, and investors can be useful to create the necessary financial resources for the project.
Creating a business plan can also help clarify goals, strategy, and financial projections to have an overall vision about the project. There are various online resources available for business planning, including templates and guides and I highly recommend using them.
My method of initiating a creative production often involves a heavy research phase where I get various inspirations from different disciplines.
It is like gathering information and then weaving the context around it. Looking to unusual places and meeting with people from diverse backgrounds might spark and add something unique to the project. But at the end of the day it is mostly the hard work, discipline, planning and dedication that makes the most difference. I truly believe in that.
It is also important to stay informed about industry news and trends, reading industry publications and websites can be helpful to catch-up with what’s going on. Joining professional associations and networks can also provide access to resources, information, and support from others in the industry. It is both beneficial for creating resources and getting inspired.
Can you tell us about your Curious Community project?
Curious Community is one of our previous initiatives that we’ve started in 2013 with a close circle of friends. The idea behind the project was to create a space for curious individuals to come together and explore their interests, passions, and creativity. It was based on the idea that curiosity is the driving force behind innovation and personal growth, and that by fostering a sense of curiosity within a community, we can create a more dynamic and innovative culture and learning environment.
However, the project evolved quite a lot and now it’s almost a ghost project, but we are still doing some gatherings to think about its future and try to understand the needs of a community driven by curiosity. We believe that it’s important to evaluate and re-evaluate projects to make sure they align with the current needs and goals of the community and the organization.
Our approach to community involvement was based on the idea that creativity is a collective effort, and that by bringing people together, we can spark something truly special in both community and individual levels.
You’re producing festivals both in Turkey & Germany. In terms of being a culture entrepreneur in two different countries, what are the major differences?
Being a cultural entrepreneur in two different countries, such as Turkey and Germany, can present a variety of unique challenges and differences because of their individual dynamics. Some of the major differences we’ve experienced are cultural and societal norms that can influence how a product is received by the public.
This situation also brings difficulty at audience and market levels; the audiences and markets for cultural products vary in form and concept between countries. In Turkey, for example, there may be a larger market for traditional music and dance, whereas in Germany, there may be more interest in contemporary and experimental forms.
From this factor, you can’t dismiss the obvious outcome, the availability and sources of funding and sponsorships can vary greatly between countries. In Turkey, for example, it might be easier to secure sponsorships and partnerships from corporate organizations, whereas in Germany, there may be more funding opportunities for state sources. Also, each country has its own set of regulations and laws that must be followed when creating a cultural project and making deals.
Language and communication can be a major barrier when working in a foreign country. In order to effectively communicate with partners, sponsors, and users in Germany, being fluent in the language is almost necessary.
Despite these differences, cultural entrepreneurship and establishing creative enterprises is a challenging yet also rewarding field, and with the right approach and understanding, it is possible to successfully produce cultural products in different countries.
It requires an understanding of the local market and culture while keeping the global context in mind, as well as the ability to adapt and be flexible and resilient in order to overcome any obstacles that may arise.
What are your tips for musicians who want to explore their entrepreneurial side and start up a new project?
Having worked with musicians for almost a decade and not only on their music projects but also on their individual projects that involve music and many other disciplines, I’ve learned and experienced a lot through success and failure.
Musicians actually by definition are entrepreneurs in this day and age.
When we talk about the similarities between the creative industries and startup culture, we always give examples from artists and musicians having an entrepreneurial mindset. If we’re talking about having their artistic works reach a larger audience and influence, today’s musicians have to have the necessary skills anyways. You want to make sure that your works are engaging, you have to have a concise understanding of your audience and must be well positioned in the market.
I think the power of collaboration is a factor here, unless you are very well equipped with the notion of techniques of solo releases (and yes, you can). However when you work together with a group of people that have similar purposes, tastes but different skill sets – then you might have the stars aligned situation.
If we’re talking about the entrepreneurial side in a broader business sense, I think musicians are the type of people that look for impact in life. They look for projects and working environments that solve real problems, fair teams, fair organizations and so on. Or, with the work they do, they want to create real, authentic and genuine influence. For this reason, they would feel much better if they knew their own “whys”.
If a musician is clear with their purpose or mission, they should look for partners that would fill their missing skills.
For instance, this could be a bit more business mindset oriented people, maybe people with better marketing and financial skills etc. In the meantime, I think the musician should also be super open minded and start learning about business management mechanics with a beginner’s mindset.
They don’t have to dive in deep with everything, but I would recommend watching informative videos and articles, following certain business management authors, having a general idea about the industry mechanisms, getting involved with professional gatherings, attending accelerators and being constant learners.
If they can combine their “product” knowledge, so to say, and mindset infused with a business approach, sometimes magical things happen.
About ÇAĞIL ÖZDEMİR
Cagil Ozdemir graduated from Istanbul Bilgi University with a double major in political science and media and communication. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in visual and generative arts at Berlin University of the Arts, one of the most prestigious art schools in the world.
She worked in the creative sector for more than 10 years prior to helping to co-found 3dots in 2018. Before moving to Berlin, she worked with the leading event promoters in Turkey, including such Pozitif Live and Charmenko Music, on everything from content development to artist hospitality and project management.
Following her involvement in the launch of 3dots, she proceeded on to co-found the XJAZZ Istanbul Festival, the Bozcaada Jazz Festival, the Bergama International Theatre Festival, Space Goats, Omnea and is currently developing 3dots Accelerator Program that will target entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries. She leads the communication and marketing strategies, oversees the fundraising initiatives, and participates in the creative aspects of each project she works on.
Connect with her via Linkedin.