Module Focus: Enterprising Cultures

The optional Enterprising Cultures module introduces MA History of Art and MA Art History and Curating students to commercial practices and contexts in the UK arts sector. It explores the different ways in which arts organisations can generate revenue, and provides students with the opportunity to pitch their own business idea. We asked Dr Sophie Hatchwell about what you can expect from this module.

What is the purpose of this module?

The module teaches you commercial awareness, and provides a framework for undertaking enterprising activity in cultural organisations. It enables you to gain practical experience in the commercial side of the arts sector, and provides opportunities for networking with professionals engaged in this type of work. The module features a series of guest speakers who undertake commercial activity in cultural organisations. Classes focus on investigating and solving a real-world problem: you will be given a project brief by a Birmingham-based arts organisation, and you will work together to propose a solution to this brief. 

Pottery wheel with 'Shop Local' text
Still from student marketing campaign for the RBSA, MA Enterprising Cultures 2022-23 cohort.

What will students learn on this module?

You will learn how put together a business plan; how to undertake market research; how to budget, including how to produce Profit and Loss forecasts and cash-flows; how to pitch a business idea to a potential client; and how to identify and articulate your own professional and transferable skills. 

What's most exciting about this module?

You will get the opportunity to undertake some genuine work experience in the arts sector, and will learn about a side of the sector that is very rarely taught in universities: commerce and enterprise. Studying on this module, you will meet colleagues from a Birmingham-based arts organisation, and will get to work on solving a real commercial problem. If your solution is good enough, the organisation may even put it into practice! 

What assessment methods are used?

As part of the module, you will work in groups to pitch your solution to the brief in a Dragon’s Den style presentation. For your assessment, you will then switch to working independently to write separate business plans, outlining your solution to the brief. 

What skills will students develop on this module?

You will develop key transferable skills in problem solving and teamwork, and you will also be guided in how to identify and articulate these skills in future job applications. You will gain confidence in presenting and public speaking, as well as working with figures and budgets: a rare opportunity for humanities graduates, but a really valuable skill to take into the working world.

Previous art-organisation partners have included the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists  and Coventry City of Culture