Deans' Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge

A culturally and artistically vibrant society has a transformative impact on communities. The Deans’ Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge calls upon students with an entrepreneurial spirit to develop venture-based solutions that provide the organizational infrastructure necessary for artists and the arts to thrive. The Challenge encourages entrepreneurial ventures that bring together the best artistic and business practices to focus on the topic areas below.

The Deans' Challenge draws on the combined expertise of the Harvard Business School, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Silkroad, a nonprofit arts organization affiliated with Harvard University and led by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The Challenge is structured to consist of two stages. Within the first stage, teams assemble with the support of i-lab programming and submit their initial proposals. After evaluation by the Judging Committee, five teams will receive $5,000 each to further develop their proposals. The prize winnings amount to $55,000 and will be awarded to one grand prize winner and up to three runners-up.

Apply Now for the Deans' Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge!

The submission deadline is Sunday, February 8, 2015. All proposals must be submitted by 11:59 PM EST

2015 Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge Topic Areas

Funding and Audiences

Artistic production has long been funded by public funds and/or private philanthropic contributions. But, both sources have been declining in recent years. Financial crises, changing demographics, and lack of infrastructure have led to dwindling markets for artistic and cultural production, further exacerbating the economic stress faced by artists.

The Challenge would like to encourage ventures that: help artists become more financially sustainable and self-sufficient; create and educate audiences; or construct marketplaces for artistic works.

Broad Cultural Impact and Access

Change – socio-economic, cultural, and technological – is rapid and pervasive. These changes have created opportunities as well as challenges for artists
and their work.

The Challenge seeks ventures that generate scalable ways of enabling artists to maximize their cultural and economic impact by harnessing these
developments, thus promoting sustained interactions among art, artists and their communities to create a vibrant, informed, and culturally-enriched

Artist Services and Support

Artists are embedded in a co-operative web of providers of support services – ranging from making and selling paints and instruments, to bringing art to
the market – that help in the creation, promotion, and circulation of art.

Ideas for ventures that enable the creation, exhibition, and dissemination of artistic work are welcome.

Expanding Horizons

The existence of specialized art worlds in every artistic field can create institutional structures that constrain various art forms, impede
cross-fertilization, and restrict artistic innovation.

The Challenge is interested in promoting ventures that enhance creativity and enrich society by generating opportunities for collaboration across
traditional artistic boundaries to expose audiences to radical, new artistic creations.

We’re at a moment in time when new ways of thinking about business and culture can have a profound impact on society...If artists and artistic organizations are to thrive, we have to think about new models. The ideas the students have presented as part of the challenge are a significant step in the right direction.”

- Mukti Khaire, HBS Associate Professor of Business Administration