The partnership between business, arts and culture goes back centuries. Pope Julius II was both patron and nemesis of Michelangelo and industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s legacy lives on in libraries and schools across the US.

Though the relationship has worked to an extent, there has been a lack of creative cohesion and collaboration between the two categories. However, we may be seeing the evolution of co-working if a recent article published in the Guardian is anything to go by.

There are some new examples of a more collaborative environment popping up where businesses and artists share the same space and in turn contribute to each others’ culture and services. The Birmingham-based theatre company Stan’s Café is an example. The theatre shares a building with a metal works factory and for reduced rent, the theatre company offers the metal manufacturer sponsorship, access to their work and less of an industrial image in the community.

There are also more organic examples, like Schoolhouse Electric, which took up residence in a massive, four-storey red brick warehouse in Portland, Oregon, in 2009. With 103,172 square feet to fill, Schoolhouse Electric opened up the space – rent and utilities free – to a range of independent businesses to create a collaborative work environment. In what is now known as the “Schoolhouse Factory”, the warehouse has now become a ‘work of art’ as the tenants’ creations merge with and influence the space.

Through this belief in collaboration and creation, these businesses are creating a new business model that goes beyond entrepreneurialism. They have created business collaboration in kind.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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