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Collaborative co-operations, - whether for employment or activities - are increasingly part of culture-led urban development all over the world and in Europe in particular. Through people-centred policies, inclusive governance and speedy decision-making, collaborative co-operations are proving to be innovative hubs for creativity.
Thus, most cities e.g. Mons, Brussels2000, more and more companies, are turning to creative talents when they need to fresh or refresh their business model. Artists, cultural & creative talents act as catalyst for sustainable development of European cities, and Brussels in particular, when cities are under strong existential crisis, see calls .

To meet this challenge, great creative talent, technical talent, facilities and professional infrastructure such as lawyers, finance contributors, connectors shall be aggregated in one place. But not only this, this place need to be ‘cool’ ; otherwise creative talents are going away to much cooler locations !

SMart Creative Talents Resilient Strengths in a chaotic world

The art of being a creative talent

Current global crisis affects as well the ecosystem of culture and creative talents. In corporate companies and urban cities, rescue by creative talents is more and more a common standard in terms of brand identity, resilience or organic networking.
Sean Monahan, from NYC Trend Forecasting Group - sharply resumed in 2015 this trend : “if you want to understand what that means, you need external talents who can lead you through the cultural shifts in real time and who are actually engaged in the production of culture.”
Noah Scalin, founder of ALR shared how just the presence of an artist can shake things up :
 "It is so unusual to bring an artist into the room that our mere presence wakes people up in the room. They aren’t falling asleep looking at another power point."
 “The set of skills artists learn allows us to be consistently innovative and consistently come up with new ideas.”

The skills of being creatively resilient

SMart’s creative talents, rather independent and unconventional, could show-case their forces in a tool-kit, which can promote resilience by teaching how to :

• Work with the unexpected and experiment : what if ?
• Take risks
• Deal with critique, enjoy complexity vs simplicity
• Develop a practice of creativity
• Shape a mindset of tolerance for imperfection and chaos
• Develop a space to create in (physical, mental, time), a capacity to extract order from chaos
• Cross-fertilize, openness to one’s inner life, to new ideas and people
“Everything that’s alive in my work I attribute to those cross-fertilisations” says designer Es Devlin says in 2014.

What’s the role of SMart talents in the ecology of culture

The ecology of culture

Seeing culture as an ecology is congruent with cultural value approaches that take into account a wide range of non-monetary values. An ecological approach concentrates on relationships and patterns within the overall system, showing how careers develop, ideas transfer, money flows, and product and content move, to and fro, around and between the funded, homemade and commercial subsectors. Culture is an organism not a mechanism ; it is much messier and more dynamic than linear models allow. The use of ecological metaphors, such as regeneration, symbiosis, fragility, positive and negative feedback loops, and mutual dependence creates a rich way of discussing culture. Different perspectives then emerge, helping to develop new taxonomies, new visualisations, and fresh ways of thinking about how culture operates. John Holden 2015

Where do SMart talents fit into the ecology of culture ?

John Holden, visiting Professor at City University, London and Honorary Professor at the University of Hong Kong, argues there are four essential roles that have to be undertaken within any cultural ecology.

• Guardians : those who look after the culture of the past i.e. include museums, libraries, archives, heritage bodies, and also scholars and conservators, but also performing arts and/or corporate companies Disney, Sony, Penguin.
• Platforms : those, like SMart, providing the places and spaces for the culture of the present i.e. venues, galleries, community halls, streets, clubs and pubs, and websites that host cultural content and of course Youtube, Instagram,, and Tumblr
• Connectors : those who make things happen and bring together other parts of the system (FR : assemblier) Put people and resources together, and move energy around the ecology. Producers / impresarios / amateur arts / administrators / critics / bloggers/ coaches / hubs
• Nomads : all of us who, as artists or audiences, interact with the other three roles i.e. technicians, actors and musicians who move from one show to another ; touring theatre companies and rock bands
People working in the cultural and creative sector are constantly on the look out for ideas, and that while inspiration can come from anywhere, it comes mainly from relatively proximate cultural sources. The frequency of talking about cultural forms that then get changed into other cultural forms suggests that creativity is self-reinforcing. John Holden 2015

SMart Creative Talents : who are they, what do freelancers want

We refer earlier to their creative skills and their type of role in the ecology of culture.

Who are SMart freelancers ?

According to EU Directive (2010/41/EU) on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women, self-employed person is defined as someone : “pursuing a gainful activity for their own account, under the conditions laid down by national law” . A freelancer or freelance worker is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term.

The term freelancing is most common in culture and creative industries, i.e. the cognitive/cultural economy or the so-called intellectual property ecology. Fields, professions and industries where freelancing is predominant include : music, journalism, publishing, screenwriting, filmmaking, acting, photojournalism, cosmetics, fragrances, editing, photography, event planning, event management, copy editing, proofreading, author editing, indexing, copywriting, writing, computer programming, web design, graphic design, website development, consulting, tour guiding, post-secondary education, video editing, video production, translating, illustrating, painting, sculpting…

What do they share in common :

- working mind-set : independence as being ‘free’ and resilient skills (detailed above)
- work space i.e. the cognitive/cultural economy or the so-called intellectual property ecology
- working patterns i.e. in projects mode and/or mission orders and/or sponsorship (commandites)
- sense of excellence i.e. meaning ‘I excel in this or that’, ‘this my core value like for a company its core business’, ‘I am an ex
pert in’.

What do freelancers expect :

- Dedication : meaning total focus on their key talents. If the use and maintenance of their creative talents is core, they need to concentrate only on them 100%, they need to profile themselves according to them…
- Delegation : subcontracting the ‘non-core’ tasks i.e. social secretariat, communication, contracts, legal issues, accounting, marketing, and other business functions, calls for tender to ensure and foster steady work stream and security .
- Discovery : so called ‘playground working time’ i.e. moments of innovation, inspiration, experimentation to smell, to feel… (snoezelen)
- Development : time and resources to explore, to try, to taste, to fail, to take risks, to evolve, to improve skills, to share , to network
- Disruption : develop and show-case a practice of creativity, develop a space to create in (physical, mental, time), cross-fertilize, train…

SMart Cooperative d’emplois : a catalyst for creative talents’ careers

Steady work stream

A steady work stream in a legal, secured and sustainable working environment is at this critical time even more requested. For Smart workers cooperative, top priority will be to respond and deliver vis-à-vis its cooperative members’ request for attracting missions.
Digital economy has opened up many freelance opportunities, expanded available markets, and has contributed to service sector growth in many economies. Offshore outsourcing, online outsourcing and crowdsourcing are heavily reliant on the Internet to provide economical access to remote workers, and frequently leverage technology to manage workflow to and from the employer.
There are many freelance internet websites such as Elance, Upwork, Toptal,,, Peopleperhour, or
However, Smart workers’ cooperative will also have to deal with tracking missions via calls for tender, public funding calls, projects management supports i.e. sponsorship, crowdfunding.

Career patterns of Smart creative talents

The fluidity of the creative talents careers is a commonly shared standard, often characterised by precarious missions and insecurities. From self-employment and employees to portfolio careers, “intermittence – freelance models” remains the rule.
The trans-sectoriality of careers is a less studied aspect of the system. From working in the funded or commercial sector with activity in the homemade sphere, creative talents are deploying widely their imagination.
The variety of work contractual arrangements is typical in the freelance world. Freelancers are sometimes represented by a company or a temporary agency that resells freelance labor to clients. Others work independently or use professional associations or websites to get work.

Career Expectations of SMart creative talents

Employment kick-start : collecting societies / public funding / ONEM

The JK Rowling case
J K Rowling who received a grant of £8,000 from the Scottish Arts Council in 1997, when the manuscript for the first Harry Potter book – written while she was receiving state benefits – had just been accepted by Bloomsbury. The publisher advised her to ‘get a day job, because there’s very little chance of making money in children’s books’. The grant allowed her to look after her young daughter and press on with the next Potter book. The books rapidly became an extraordinary publishing phenomenon, transforming Bloomsbury’s finances, and spawned a hugely successful film series. The big-screen adaptations were widely credited with driving a renaissance in the British film industry, employing large numbers of technicians and special effects experts. By 2003, just six years after that Arts Council grant, Rowling had become richer than the Queen, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. She is now said to be worth £570m.


- Mobility btw sectors, amateurs/professional theatre but to cinema, TV production
- Mobility abroad from one country to another
- Mobility into digital age - a digital age personal career growth requires constant re-skilling rather than a front-loaded education system.

Career Progression

- Profile-Branding
- Coaching
- Self-entrepreneur Model : Liège, LLN, Bruxelles (scrl fs) and Bruxelles and in Liège

Development skills

Life-long learning educational programme on leadership that provides an increase in competence, skills, and knowledge for leaders in the arts, cultural and creative sector, - based on operation, context and process.


Transferable skills for lighting and AV in conferences, trade fairs, cruise ships, yoga teaching, massage classes, art & heritage restoration…

SMart Cooperative d’activités : towards sustainability of cultural & creative activities

The challenge is accessing the value-chain development to allow a better sustainability of artistic, cultural and creative activities . Activity might grow from one person to the setting-up of an asbl or a small company, or groups of associated individual freelancers or consortium created to answer project calls.
The objective hereafter is to accompany creative entrepreneurs in the identi-fication of their added-values, to stimulate the building-up of adequate tools to optimize their activities, to coach them appropriately according to their development needs i.e. mentoring, sponsorship, skills transfer, financial capacities.

A- Emergence

Writing stories and script development has a cost, often assumed in Belgium by ONEM. 
“Experimentation and prototyping need free money and time but that early-risk capital – whether in the form of a 17 year old living on benefits while she writes songs, or a film-maker having time to develop a storyline – often isn’t available.”
Iggy Pop put it in the 2014 John Peel lecture

Alternatively, other forms of financial supports should be encouraged in a consistent and legal manner : public funding (incl. ONEM), the bank of mum and dad, mutualisation-type of funding, public/ private funding for pilot-projects, crowd-funding for new initiatives.
The uptake of new technology has changed the meaning of the word ‘emergence’ in the cultural context. The barriers to entry have dropped enormously. The digital world is hugely creative, but 95% can’t be monetised and the field is quite anarchic.
We know that 86% (2014) of public funding from FWB are received by asbl. Funding varies from €25 to €14,5mio for the Opéra Royal de Wallonie. The asbl legal statute remains in Belgium a model for creative activities. Every creative talent should be able to set-up his/her own asbl and run operations via this legal form. When needed, another legal status could be analysed ac-cording to foreseeable developments.

B - Creative Hubs

It is not only about gathering. It is about networking on a sectoral or cross-sectoral basis in a space and furniture architecture combine to create a place of inspiration e.g. a real estate cooperative. In spite of digital connectivity, it is still the case that physical proximity, face-to-face meetings and the vibe of a locality all matter, a place to put your ideas in motion and let your imagination soar !
Creative hubs are usually run by Connectors (assembliers) e.g. in Brussels be near la Cambre for textile, the Silicon Valley for ICT, or Creative District in the neighbourhood of RTBF should develop an ICT/Broadcasting/video hub or in Liège, Houses of Design (Mons, Liège, Brussels...) should networked, in the field of theatre in Liège plays an equivalent role as Filage in Lille.
Hubs are usually sharing the following criteria :
- pooling people, welcoming residences
- sharing experiences, expertise, knowledge
- making experiences, using facilities, mixing collaborators,
- providing sufficient time to experiment
- information, training, advice

B- Supporting creative entrepreneurship : start-up & mentoring

- Starting-up (coopérative d’activité) Lille (asbl 1901) (Liège) (Liège)

- Mentoring

To balance arts&craft model types of cultural asbl vis-à-vis the so-called creative industries, by :
- collaborating along the value-chain i.e. innovation, production, promotion, post-production, distribution, circulation of works and artists.
- reinforcing structure, sharing resources, material, spaces and
- encouraging profitable synergies in terms of viability and investment i.e. clusters.

e.g. : Collecting Societies vis-à-vis emergent creation and investment support.
e.g. : RTBF investment quotas vis-à-vis local producers
e.g. : Google investments vis-à-vis content production.

C- Supporting Projects Operators directly or via consortia

As referred earlier, creative talents most often work in project mode. To encourage this way of working, SMart cooperative d’activités will have to support pilot-projects, then contribute to the sustainability of the project on a 3-years project scale, while promoting the post-production, the distribution and the circulation of the project.
« Ma lecture est que la priorité des artistes … est plutôt de développer leur activité et d’essayer de s’en sortir. Ils sont en général dans des situations professionnelles où toute leur énergie se répartit entre le projet qu’ils viennent de finir et celui qu’ils doivent retrouver », explique Marc Moura 2016.
The objective is to accompany projects stakeholders in the evaluation of their needs all along this process i.e. resources, financing, agent, production, diffusion, by :
- coaching and cultural management
e.g. in Liège La Halte
e.g. in Lille Filage (asbl 1901)
- providing technical ingenieurie e.g. La Grappe / SMart Lille
- sharing benchmarking processes
- sharing ingenieurie on call for tenders, clusters, consortia
- mutualising on human resources i.e. administrative, financial, communication…
- accompanying vis-à-vis the financial implications
e.g. : public funding / crowdfunding / tax shelter / loan etc… and
e.g. : financial viability of the project.

Brussels, on 20 April 2016


Marie-Laure Lulé is a senior EU Digital Media Expert at EPICENTRE, with a strong focus on content-related industries. She has worked for Belgian, German, Luxemburgish companies and European associations for more than 15 years on audio-visual issues, ICT technological standards, e-commerce and EU funding, as well as competition, state aid and country of origin principle, including copyright and culture. Marie-Laure has also advised on the implementation of EC laws in different national markets, including France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and South East Europe.
Marie-Laure holds a Master of Arts in EU Politics Diploma from the College of Europe, a French DEA in EC Law from the University of Rennes and an Erasmus Certificate at the RijksUniversiteit te Utrecht. Having worked in Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris, Trier and Utrecht, Marie-Laure is also an international coach for organisations and European executives.
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