My short visit to Sibelius Academy at the end of January 2018 was fascinating! I love Finland and Finish people and my return to Helsinki was indeed memorable. I met the talented MA students and my great colleagues at the Arts Management Department – Tanja Johansson and Violeta Simjanovska. I had the opportunity to share with the students highlights from my experience and knowledge in the field of strategic thinking and strategic leadership. We discussed the role of today’s leaders in the arts and the trends in 21st century leadership, the basic differences in the strategic thinking in the profit and nonprofit cultural organisations, the main factors for establishing of an intrapreneurial climate in an arts organisation. Students were interested to hear how strategies are related to the organizational lifecycle and how the Boards in both business as well as nonprofit arts organisations are involved in the strategic thinking process. We also worked interactively on the differences between strategic leader, strategic manager, intrapreneur in the arts sector.

My open lecture at Sibelius Academy was on the topic of Digital Strategies in the Arts – how arts organizations use digital technologies, what are the components of a digital strategy, what kind of online business models we could implement and much more. We briefly discussed the topic of international entrepreneurship in the arts: what are the reasons, trends, opportunities and barriers. Part of the presentation was based on my latest book International Entrepreneurship in the Arts, published by Routledge in 2016.

Below is the interview which one of my colleagues initiated. Her questions to me were mainly in the area of entrepreneurship in the arts, which is actually very much connect with strategy, because successful arts entrepreneurs always have a strategic vision, and on the other hand – strategic managers in the arts certainly need to create an intrapreneurial climate within the organisation to be able to cope in the constantly changing competitive environment.

Bringing Forward Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship in the Arts

“Consultant, educator and coach Lidia Varbanova was invited to visit the Department of Arts Management at Sibelius Academy as a part of a course in strategic management. Coming from a strong background of both arts and economics, she tells us about her natural interest in finding solutions for artists to make it in the global world, to earn their incomes and increase their audiences, as well as to gain international visibility.

My grandfather and my uncle were both musicians and I play piano and sing since my childhood. My father was a prominent Professor and passionate educator. When I obtained my PhD in Economics, I decided to find out a way to combine these two fields“, she says.

During Dr. Varbanova’s two-day visit at Sibelius Academy she met with the Arts Management Master degree students to talk about cultural leadership and the importance of the strategic thinking in the arts management practice: what does it mean to be a good strategic leader as well as a good strategic manager? How to be entrepreneurial, proactive, to generate innovative ideas while at the same time following the organisational development.

“When touching upon the topic of entrepreneurship in the arts, there is no general rule as it always depends on the context: is the artist independent, or working within an organization; what is the country and the region where the artist works, and so on. I have to say that I love Finnish people – I find them very kind, honest, tolerant and deep in their emotions, which on another hand they do not express very openly”, Varbanova compliments.

According to Dr. Varbanova, being an ”artpreneur” or a ”musicpreneur” is a question of a life choice. What does she think – does every artist have to be also an entrepreneur in order to be successful; does globalization helps,or is a threat for artpreneurs? Look and listen to Dr. Varbanova’s interview here:

Photo credit: Uniarts website: 


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