The Guildhall School of Music & Drama together with social enterprise Cause4 opens applications for the 2017-2018 Guildhall Creative Entrepreneurs Scheme. Guildhall Creative Entrepreneurs is a business incubator, offering enterprise training, mentoring and funding support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the performing arts and creative industries. The scheme helps ambitious entrepreneurs jumpstart their business idea or grow an existing start-up/enterprise and create a sustainable business. The Guildhall Creative Entrepreneurs Open Day on 3 May gives potential applicants the opportunity to hear from scheme leaders and alumni, and meet with both established and aspiring entrepreneurs currently working in the creative industries.

Since 2013, the scheme has incubated over 30 creative entrepreneurs and has demonstrated a solid track record of sustainability, with over 90% of entrepreneurs still operational in the creative industries. Successes from past years have included Drum Works, a music education programme that confronts disengagement within schools, and is currently reaching over 400 young people every week and is now a Barbican Artistic Associate; Docklands Sinfonia, a young and pioneering orchestra which has become a major cultural force in the Docklands which is launching its most ambitious Children’s Concert this year for 2,200 primary school children from 20 schools; Soundcastle, which unites communities and inspire workplaces through high-quality music-making has expanded from London to Brighton to Bristol with a growing team from 4 to 18; and Turn of Phrase, a communications skills company who are pioneering methods to improve gender equality in the workplace. For the first three years of its development, the scheme was exclusive to Guildhall alumni and staff and helped the development of 22 creative businesses, as well as providing enterprise training to many more Guildhall-led businesses and individuals through access to selected workshops and events. In 2016, the scheme was opened to applicants from across the performing arts sector as well as Guildhall alumni and staff; applicants were assessed on the basis of the strength of the business concept, its readiness for development and, in the case of artistically led projects, the quality of the venture.

The scheme is run in partnership with award-winning social enterprise Cause4 and offers an intensive 12‐month programme (September – September). In the course of the year, participants have access to:

  • Personalised training: to help you develop your business plan, set up a company and gain access to funding & investment.
  • Mentoring and Coaching: an average of 30 hours of tailored, one-to-one support provided by scheme leaders and a range of external experts. Current mentors include professionals from Amati Global Investors, The Culture Capital Exchange, Artichoke, the BBC and the City of London Corporation (including the Barbican Centre).
  • Office Space: access to central London office space, including free Wi-Fi and use of utilities and kitchen space. Entrepreneurs are entitled to approx. 20 hours of office access per week which equates to £15,600 in office costs across the duration of the scheme.
  • Networks: access to citywide professional networks including organisations such as Deutsche Bank and City of London Corporation, along with introductions to start-up growth networks, including UnLtd.
  • Training: an average of 80 hours of seminars and workshops on core entrepreneurial management skills, such as business planning/company structure, digital development, sales, marketing, building teams, leadership, finance and pitching.
  • Events: an average of 15 special events per year, including regular evening talks and a range of networking events featuring prominent figures from the entrepreneurial world and creative industries. Previous speakers included David Sabel, formerly Director of Broadcast and Digital at the National Theatre and Tony Woodcock, former President of the New England Conservatory.
  • Funding Advice & Support: including the opportunity to pitch to select investors, funders and supporters at an organised pitch event towards the end of the 12 months.

The Creative Entrepreneurs scheme was devised by Professor Helena Gaunt, Vice Principal for Innovation at the Guildhall School, in partnership with social enterprise Cause4. Michelle Wright, the CEO of Cause4, is an alumna and Fellow of the Guildhall School (Violin 1995-1999) and founded Cause4 in 2009. Since being founded, Cause4 has grown rapidly and represents an experienced partner in the development of entrepreneurial ideas and associated business models. Details on the current cohort can be found here.

Professor Helena Gaunt said: “Our Creative Entrepreneurs scheme has grown from strength to strength, demonstrating so many ways in which practitioners in the performing arts can build sustainable business and make a difference. I’m delighted that this is now becoming such a hotbed of fresh thinking and initiative, determination and business savvy. The environment, the community of creative entrepreneurs, and the down-to-earth practical approach open doors to success.”

Michelle Wright, CEO of Cause4 said: “In uncertain economic and political times the role of the performing artist is ever changing. We now need not only to embrace portfolio careers but also to be skilled entrepreneurs, commercially minded with the ability to make ideas a reality. This is why the Creative Entrepreneurs scheme is so important. Whilst sensitive to the needs of performing artists it also prepares musicians and actors for the commercial reality of today’s careers.”

The deadline for the 2017/2018 applications is 6 July at 5pm. The fee for the course is £3,100 with concession rates available for participants that have graduated from a Guildhall School accredited degree programme.

 

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