entrepreneurship for the creative industries

Michelle Phillips, Senior Lecturer, Royal Northern College of Music, England

This article was first published in 2021 in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Network eZINE Volume 4 no 3

The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) is one of the world’s most forward-thinking conservatoires. Located in the heart of Manchester, in the north of England, RNCM is dedicated to providing an outstanding education that supports personal change and propels students into careers as inspiring and versatile musicians, fully-equipped for exciting futures both on and off stage.

In this article, Dr Michelle Phillips, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of Undergraduate Programmes, offers an introduction to the StART Entrepreneurship Project, for which she is the Principal Investigator.

Image credit: Royal Northern College of Music

RNCM was founded in 1973 and is currently home to over 900 students from more than 60 countries. Housing three major performance spaces (including a fully equipped Theatre and Concert Hall), the RNCM is a vibrant live music venue. 

StART is a two-year collaboration between RNCM, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD) and University of the Arts London (UAL).

The ambition of the StART Project is to find new ways to help students to develop entrepreneurship related skills, interpreted in a broad way,  so for example, start-up skills, leadership innovation and resilience.  The overall goal is to help graduates have successful and sustainable careers. 

StART has 3 main priorities. The first priority is to develop and test good practice for delivering an entrepreneurial scheme relevant to the UK creative industries with a student-focussed programme, which will be transferable and scalable across all Arts & Design HEIs.

The second priority is to support the UK creative industries by developing students with the mindset to think ahead, work across disciplines, develop transferable skills, network, collaborate with mentors, and take charge of their own learning and careers.

The third priority is to address the challenges of enterprise education for the creative industries e.g. lack of identifiable role models, fragmented creative ecosystem, lack of support for self-employment, micro-enterprises and SMEs, and the barriers to uptake and inclusion.

StART aims to enrich the entrepreneurial training provided at the three world-leading institutions via new and enhanced tuition, including student workshops, professional placements, mentorships and networking opportunities with partners in the creative industries.

As of early Autumn 2021, there have been 5000 hours of engagement with students and 390 events. New lesson plans and resource guides have been created, and the main findings from the first year of the Project have been shared in 6 conference presentations. The project will continue to share its findings and lessons throughout 2021 and 2022.

Creative practice is rooted in collaboration and interaction between people in physical environments. The last 18 months have brought great uncertainty into every aspect of creative careers. StART has already helped to explore how to deal with these challenges and uncertainties. Through StART students are learning to regain control through the use of effectual logic, activism and an understanding of the role of failure as a source of new knowledge. ◼️