Creative industries habe been heavily struck from Covid-19 but at the same as crisis-proof leverer of innovation. Inga Wellmann, Head of Arts and Creative Industries Department, Ministry of Culture and Media, Hamburg, reports on how the city has supported culture and creative industries making use of their innovative potential.

Inga Wellmann
Inga Wellmann, Head of Arts and Creative Industries Department, Ministry of Culture and Media, Hamburg
Cultural manager (MA) working at the intersection of the Arts, Media, and public/private sectors.
Juli 2, 2020 • 4 min read

Supporting arts, culture and creative industries

The corona crisis is affecting cities in particular. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany with almost 2 million inhabitants. Originally a trade and harbour city, Hamburg is now better known for its high share of cultural and creative industries. These have been hit hard, especially in the course of the immediate measures taken by the Federal Government, Hamburg as a Federal State had a complimentary protective shield for all corona-damaged companies and institutions, including cultural and creative industries – and with a special focus on solo independents and freelancers.

But right from the start of pandemic action, both in the Ministry of Culture and Media as well as in adjacent public institutions such as the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft (being a public service institution for supporting the cultural and creative industries), there was a direct urge to not just financially help out for the months to come but to also tap the innovation potential that lies within this crisis. One could feel that the readiness to think outside the box had never been bigger as almost everyone had to leave his or her comfort zone and explore new paths in order to cope with the situation.

Therefore several new formats were quickly being brought into action, aiming at offering not just a quick relief but a long term perspective for transformation and collaboration. Three formats are depicted below.

Hamburg Kreativ GmbH
Foto: Hamburg Kreativ GmbH
Hamburg Kreativ GmbH

Emergency Lab

With the Emergency Lab the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft pursues two goals. The first one is to support small and medium-sized enterprises in crisis management with concrete solutions. The second one is doing so by using the innovative power of creative professionals – with the positive side effect of creating new orders for creatives.

Many small and medium-sized enterprises have faced unexpected challenges from Covid-19, often specifically concerning the need for quick digitalization of their business. Questions were arising, for example on how digitization could open up opportunities for new target groups, business models or products and secure long-term profits.

In order to tackle these challenges quickly and at the same time in a sustainable way, visionary immediate solutions and external capacities were needed – and found within the creative realm. Enterprises as well as creative professionals could apply to join the pool and be matched. Two rounds of the so called Emergency Lab were being implemented.

Each round of the Emergency Lab took 2.5 days and was free of charge. The Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft took over the daily wages of the creative workers for 2.5 days (600€ per day) and thus created access to new orders during the Covid-19 slack. In modular slots that built up on each other, companies would develop individual immediate solutions together with selected experts from the cultural and creative industries. If desired, the Cross Innovation Hub – a platform within the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft aiming at fostering innovation across all disciplines – provided methodical support during the process. At the end of the process, a solution approach and a concrete action plan were developed.

Some examples can be found here (Link), only in German.

Responsible Innovation
Foto: Helga Lorbeer
Responsible Innovation

Professionalisation of Crowdfunding Campaigns

The Ministry of Culture and Media and the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft launched the Hamburg Crowdfunding campaign funding in April 2020. Crowdfunding project starters from all sectors can apply for financial support of up to 5,000 € to prepare and implement their crowdfunding campaign. The grants may be used for creative business services such as photos, texts, videos, music, or graphic design commissioned by Hamburg’s creative industries.

A total of 250,000 € from the Culture Aid Package of Hamburg’s Corona support umbrella are available for this programme, which is both increasing the chances of success for crowdfunding projects and at the same time provides economic impulses for Hamburg’s creative workers.

Those eligible to apply are entrepreneurs (trade and freelance professionals), companies, associations and foundations from Hamburg who want to start a crowdfunding campaign and need creative support in preparing and implementing their campaigns. The respective industry of the applicants does not play a role in the allocation of funds. Projects from all industries and sectors, commercial and non-commercial, are eligible to apply. Applicants are free to choose between different crowdfunding platforms and bring in creative professionals from their own network. The amount of funding is depending on the level of the overall funding target of the individual crowdfunding campaign.

Fast Mover: Paid Content in the Media

In the media and digital industry, it is not only since Covid-19 that the development of new financing models as well as the constant development and adjustment of business models are deeply needed. Instead of being paralysed by the pandemic shock, the current time can be well used for testing digital revenue strategies and establish them in the market. With the new support programme “Fast Mover”, the nextMedia initiative – a department of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft – supports creative media makers in the further development and implementation of their new ideas with 3,000 € per team. The focus is on projects that pursue solutions for current challenges in journalism and digital media, be it content, infrastructure or else – in times of crisis and beyond.

These three funding programmes offer a quick insight into possible ways of tapping the potential of crisis and transformation. The pandemic threat will hopefully be over at some point, but other challenges will continue to be present. Society’s big issues will need joint perspectives and alliances, therefore it is Hamburg’s long term goal to continuously expand the innovation ecosystem and have cultural and creative industries play an ever more crucial role in it. Things are dynamic, so are tools, formats and alliances. But the overall attitude of embracing crisis not just as a threat but as a big opportunity and testbed for responsible innovation will hopefully remain. Or – as a wise man once sang – “There is a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.” (Leonard Cohen)