The art of business


11-10-2012

ideaSpace Enterprise Accelerator awards grant to Wysing Arts Centre for its work on encouraging innovation in the East of England.

Each year ideaSpace Enterprise Accelerator (iEA) provides funding to a number of organisations who foster innovation and enterprise in the region. Wysing Arts Centre, based in Bourn in Cambridgeshire, is the first venture to receive a grant from iEA’s 2012 funding programme.

Wysing Arts Centre has developed a programme of ‘Creative Accelerator Workshops’ to help companies in the region harness their creativity both in generating new ideas for products and services and in improving their business processes to become more productive and efficient. iEA has awarded the Centre a £40,000 grant to trial and support their artist-led workshops designed for early stage businesses and small and medium-sized companies.

Through research, the Centre has demonstrated that the way artists work can be enormously valuable when translated into a business context. Businesses often find unforeseen events difficult to deal with but artists see them as an opportunity to change the way they approach a problem and, by doing so, come up with a completely new outcome. The workshops will encourage participants to embrace chance events and learn the art of improvisation in order to open up new possibilities. Central to the programme is a commitment to creating an environment that will build confidence and support and test new ideas and creative thinking, enabling businesses to develop their ideas and grow their companies.

iEA was impressed by the scale of thinking behind the workshops. Since 2009 Wysing has been successfully running national artist-development programmes, helping more than 50 artists each year to unlock their creative potential. When they first had the idea to offer their skills to the business community, Wysing invested considerable time talking to Cambridge companies and commissioned students at the Cambridge Judge Business School to undertake a scoping project on their behalf.  Research undertaken by Professor Giovanni Schiuma, Chairman of the Arts for Business Institute and Professor of Innovation Management at the Università della Basilicata, Italy, which assessed the impact and value of arts-based training has also been applied to their methodology.

Donna Lynas, Director of Wysing Arts Centre, said: “Through ongoing research, we’ve identified a niche within the business sector in Cambridge and across the wider region, for business workshops that offer intellectual space to grow.  Artists can provide a creative and experimental approach to overcome barriers and blockages to success, problem resolution and a different perspective to overcoming organisational issues to improve business effectiveness and prepare for change.”

Stewart McTavish, Director of ideaSpace Enterprise Accelerator, added:The Creative Accelerator Workshops have the potential to be a great resource for early stage ventures in the region and further afield. The pathway to growth and sustainability is often non-linear and non-obvious so sharing and learning problem solving techniques used in the creative sector could be immensely useful. With the support offered Wysing Arts Centre can test and develop what can become a sustainable, valued and value-for-money service that will continue to deliver beyond the life of the programme.”

The one-day workshops will begin in Spring 2013 and will be delivered in association with Cambridge Event Management Ltd.

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