PhD candidate Benedetta is supported through a scholarship as part of a collaborative doctoral partnership of East Street Arts and the University of Leeds School of Performance and Cultural Industries.

Benedetta is three years into her collaborative PhD research project. Developing concurrently to the Guild Program itself, Benedetta’s research engages with the themes and aims of Guild, Including how the program contributes to the development of sustainable artist-led spaces and their value and impact on the national cultural landscape.

The research questions of the PhD revolve around what sustainability means for small artist-led organisations and how they function to achieve it through the development of their business models, collaborative practices and the embedment in their localities. The research looks at what role these organisations play in the wider cultural ecology and how they can be affected by it.

We caught up with Benedetta to hear more about the conference, her paper and her fantastic achievements.

Who are you?

My name is Benedetta D’Ettorre and I am a final year PhD student at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds. Through the Cultural Institute at the University of Leeds, I was awarded a collaborative doctoral scholarship in partnership with East Street Arts to research the sustainability and resilience of artists’ organisations in the context of their Guild programme.

Where was the conference held? What was it about?

The 2021 Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Conference was held at Cardiff City Hall. The title and theme this year was “Bridging Enterprise, Policy And Practice: Creating Social And Public Value”. The conference brings together researchers, businesses, entrepreneurs and policymakers through the plenary and parallel sessions to share and discuss current research on small businesses, entrepreneurship and innovation.

 What is the paper about?

In the parallel session “Creative Industries Entrepreneurship”, I presented the paper “Reframing Sustainability in Small Artist-Led Organisations: Bridging Policy and Practice”.

In the paper, I discuss how the “sustainability” of artists’ organisations is currently framed in cultural policy and resort to a multi-disciplinary approach (business and organisational studies, entrepreneurship, cultural entrepreneurship, artist-led initiatives and organisations) to critically engage with it. Learning from the experiences of artists, and reviewing current research in cultural policy and business studies, I argued that a re-framing of how we think about “sustainability” is needed in the context of small-artist led organisations to actually make them sustainable.

In turn, this has the potential to bridge between policy and practice and to influence both cultural policy and the practices of artists.

Why did you choose the particular topic for your paper?

I chose this topic to disseminate the findings of my research that are in connection with the theme of the conference. It was also a way to receive feedback on my thinking and discuss with peers the potential implications of my research for cultural policy and the practices of artists running arts/studio organisations.

When was the conference held?

Between the 28-29th October 2021.

How do you feel about the award, what impact does winning have on your career?

I’ve only shared my early thinking at a conference before, so I’ve never really gone ‘public’ with my final results. It was great to be able to discuss my research at the conference and with a wider public. Winning the “Best paper in Creative Industries Entrepreneurship” award is a great achievement and I think it is an acknowledgement of the originality of my work and the impact it can have.

The paper is made available to ISBE members (ISBN: 978-1-900862-33-2) and it was an opportunity for me to practice how to write an academic paper. I received valuable peer review feedback that I will use to improve my work.

You can read more about Benedetta and her collaborative PhD research project here.

Other things!