29. februar 2012


Businesses are getting better access to creating innovation and growth through the arts and culture. Project Kunstgreb has trained 38 artists to be innovators, which has resulted in success for many businesses and organisations. The project recently concluded with a conference during which Sønderborg2017 heard about the experiences.

"It surpassed all expectations. It has been a huge success and we have found a shortcut to a fruitful partnership. We don't see this as the conclusion of the project but rather as the beginning and we want to widen the circle.

This is how Frank Balslev, who works in IT at Jysk Bank in Silkeborg, sees it, after he and a group of colleagues spent three-month in a process of cooperation with a painter.

The artist, Frans Van Der Woude, was a so-called "innovator", who, before beginning the process, received training in going into companies. He trained in the Kunstgreb project, which has just completed a three-year process with support from the European Social Fund.

During the course of the three years, 100 artists from various branches of the arts have gained knowledge of business and innovation and 60 of them have received further training within process and product innovation. 38 of them have currently completed their training and are available to businesses. During the Kunstgreb process, 52 Danish companies (25 private and 37 public) took part, involving approximately 500 employees.


The idea is that the innovator can help to unleash the potential and hidden resources within the business and its employees. This is achieved through meetings, workshops and specially-designed processes that the artist has learnt.

"We took part because we really want to be a different and open business with initiative. We've just gone through a major organisational change and the artist really helped us get through it," says Frank Balslev from Jyske Bank.

He talked about his experiences as the Kunstgreb project recently concluded with a conference on artistic and creative processes in business together with the Center for Culture and Experience Economy.


Here Sønderborg2017 and Sønderborg Municipality heard about several positive processes, including from the Danish Society of Engineers (IDA), who really wanted to change the culture of numerous long and tedious meetings and accomplished this with the help of the actress Jane Christine Pejtersen.

"We think very scientifically and are concerned with innovation processes, but that's more on a technological level. This took us out of our comfort zone and gave us a real eye-opener. We now have clear, motivated agendas and there's an air of expectation ahead of our meetings. It's a whole new approach to the working-day. We would really like to pursue this way of thinking and we have become conscious of precision and preparation. I think that there will be a measurable effect in us being better prepared for meetings," says Annette Askholm, Project Manager at IDA.


Making use of Kunstgreb's innovators is one of several options for businesses who see the potential for growth in incorporating the arts and culture. For example, the aim may be to train a smarter organisation, for product development, to streamline workflows, to improve the work environment and make the workplace more attractive by fostering commitment and pride.

The premise is that innovation will develop in the meeting between different sectors. A premise, which is fundamental to Sønderborg and district's candidature for the European Capital of Culture, which is also taking initiatives to build bridges between business and the arts and culture.

The Center for Culture and Experience Economy, CKO, helps to qualify the businesses' access to experience economics and business development, which means converting what may seem like "hot air" into tangible discovery and motivation. CKO is a public, independent institution which was founded in 2008 by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs.

CKO has two main target groups: The first is creative businesses, which may profit from being associated with commercial knowledge. The second is other businesses, which have the potential to create added value through the arts and culture. One of the challenges is that it is still commonplace to talk about results in terms of raw figures, which are the guiding principles for the majority of businesses. And this requires "translation", as the various sectors need to understand what each other is saying.

There has also been interaction between the areas of innovation and the arts and culture on Nordic and European levels. The EU for example, in its 2020 strategy, sees it as an important tool in developing the labour market.

On a Nordic level, KreaNord, which is a joint initiative under the Nordic Council of Ministers, has just compiled a series of cases in which cultural and creative businesses have introduced business skills and in which other business have received input from creative skills, which have contributed in creating added value: These companies include Danish Crown, KONE (lifts and escalators) as well as Polycom (telecommunications).


Polycom would very much like to expand its creativity so that innovation is not just something that happens among engineers. The artist Kirstin Birkeland was therefore invited as a "positive disruptive element". She initiated "Project Einstein". In the middle of the large factory space, an Einstein room was created with art and 12 volunteers from all the core areas and divisions within the company met Kirstin Birkeland there once a week for three months. The task was to develop new and different concepts for Polycom's future through various exercises in thinking differently. All employees had a chance to join in through initiatives such as "Friday meditation".

According to KreaNord, the general consensus among everyone at Polycom is that the company as a whole has become more creative. A cultural shift has taken place whereby innovation and a willingness to change filters through the entire company and the employees have acquired a deeper understanding of the needs of the customers. For more information, see.