The Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) are one of the world’s most rapidly growing economic sectors.
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According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the creative economy has blossomed to become one of the great powerhouses of our times. The creative sector generates 2,250 billion USD annually and provides more jobs to workers aged 18-25 than any other field of employment.
However, the COVID-19 crisis has brought into focus the scope of the disruption to the creative sector.
Even when faced with upheaval, the creative economy has been a common thread throughout history that has fostered connectedness and given communities a stronger sense of identity. In fact, the global “Creative Services Market” is forecast to grow steadily from 2021 to 2027.
The pandemic has given birth to a new generation of creative entrepreneurs. Based on the United States Census Bureau Statistics, the pandemic has triggered a surge in entrepreneurship across major economies, including the creative sector.
The creative entrepreneur, also known as a “culturepreneur, ” approaches business with culture and story at the forefront, leading with a strong ‘why’ in pursuing their endeavors.
These high-performing individuals are successful because they lead by connecting individuals to their vision. Former Chairman and CEO of GE Jack Welch, who led General Electric through two decades of extraordinary corporate prosperity, once said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
Visionary culturepreneurs believe that putting people and their unique cultural stories at the center of business is instrumental in driving innovation.
Our Top 10 Culturepreneurs are agents of change and drive innovation within their respective sectors. Let’s learn a little more about each of them.
Music: Van Hunt – Grammy Award Winner – Singer, Songwriter, and Producer
Dayton-born musician Van Hunt made his start in Atlanta, where he gained attention for his work producing and writing songs with artists like Dionne Farris, Rahsaan Patterson, and Cree Summer.
In 2007, Hunt received a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group with Vocals,” honoring Family Affair, a collaboration with John Legend and Joss Stone, found on the 2006 Sly & The Family Stone tribute album, and Different Strokes For Different Folks.
Hunt’s song “Automatic Woman” was recently shortlisted for an Oscar this year following its feature as the theme song for Netflix’s ‘Bruised,’ which Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry directed.
Working with Halle and fellow musicians Starrah and HER for the film, Hunt reflected on the power women bring to the table:
“Women having more access to key leadership roles is a step in the right direction, but we are not where our society needs to be to experience the full benefit,” said Hunt.
Van Hunt intends to continue to mentor and do his part to foster an inclusive environment and be a role model for aspiring musicians and independent artists through his artistic endeavors.
Media: James DuBose – Head of Programming, Fox Soul
Many may call veteran entertainment industry executive James DuBose a visionary, and some will say he shifts cultures, while others consider him a career maker.
Whatever you think of him, he intentionally and unapologetically amplifies the voice and experiences of Black individuals around the globe to inspire, educate, uplift, and entertain Black audiences.
DuBose serves as General Manager & Head of Programming for Fox Soul, a live and interactive streaming channel dedicated to African American viewers. DuBose built an impressive catalog of assets known for garnering record-breaking television network numbers.
He executive-produced and syndicated the entertainment show Dish Nation, E! Networks’ WAGS Atlanta, and hit projects under his DuBose Entertainment banner – including Kevin Hart’s One Mic Stand.
DuBose takes pride in his role as a Black executive in entertainment, knowing that it means lifting as he climbs, and supporting Black communities’ economic empowerment.
Hospitality: Jonathan Plutzik – Owner, The Betsy Hotel
Jonathan Plutzik, the principal owner of The Betsy Hotel -South Beach – one of the preeminent global arts hotels, created an artistic haven in ‘The Betsy Hotel.’
Committed to championing arts and culture, Plutzik showcases the works of a diverse range of artists and artisans. The Betsy Hotel also offers creative’s thoughtfully considered spaces to inspire them to create and share their own cultures and life experiences through their art.
The luxury hotel is a beachfront gem honored by Travel + Leisure as one of the best hotels in the world.
Business: Carolina Ignarra – Founder, Talento Incluir
Following a harrowing accident, Carolina Ignarra would forever need to traverse the crowded streets of São Paulo, Brazil, in a wheelchair.
She quickly discovered the most significant challenge she was about to face would not be her disability but systemic workplace discrimination for the broader Sao Paulo, Brazil, disabled population.
Driven to educate managers on the meaning and value of inclusivity, Carolina started Talento Incluir. Talento Incluir was founded to help promote new pathways for employers to value, hire and redefine what it means to be top talent.
Personal experience and passion drive Ignarra to utilize inclusivity to achieve a better future in business.
Fashion: Norsham Mohamad-Garcia – Founder, Miami Modest Fashion Week
Norsham Mohamad-Garcia founded Miami Modest Fashion Week.
Garcia understands that people draw upon their culture and personal stories to bring to life their creations.
Through Miami Modest Fashion Week, Garcia created a platform for designers, retailers, and influencers to celebrate and share their culture and authenticity through fashion.
Miami Modest Fashion Week pioneered several global modest and non-modest fashion weeks to collaborate under one umbrella organization – The Global Modest Fashion Week Association.
Non-Profit: Dr. Reem El Mutwalli – Founder, The Zay Initiative
Dr. Reem El Mutwalli, founder of ‘The Zay Initiative,’ has united historical Arab dress with a powerful message of female empowerment.
Her project, Draped in Heritage Photographic Exhibition, was brought to life at Expo 2020. The artful images depict twenty trailblazing Emirati women draped in historical outfits from The Zay Collection.
The women included represent all walks of life, and their outfits are ensembles of varied prominence from the past. “In this way, we are empowering and honoring both generations,” said Mutwalli.
The Zay Initiative is a non-profit, UK-registered fashion digital library and collection archive whose aim is to promote an understanding of the evolution of regional culture, public awareness, and appreciation of this unique heritage globally.
Non-profit (Film): Brickson Diamond, Carol Ann Shine, and Ryan Tarpley – Founders, The Blackhouse Foundation
The Blackhouse Foundation was established in 2006 by Brickson Diamond, Carol Ann Shine, and Ryan Tarpley to address their dismay and frustration at the lack of Black people and people of color within the digital media industry.
The thriving organization of thought-leaders at Blackhouse is focused on inspiring the next generation of filmmakers to bring diverse culture and storytelling to our screens in film, television, and digital media outlets online.
Health: Dr. Bridget Leonard, DNP, RN, – Life Coach, Nurse Leader, and Speaker- Founder, Bridget Leonard Enterprises, LLC
Dr. Bridget Leonard, a thought leader in the nursing and life coaching fields, supports individuals with their mental health, particularly those in the African American community and beyond.
Her commitment to inspiring others to live ‘authentically and unapologetically’ is grounded in creating a culture of living true to oneself.
Bridget understands the value that a person living on purpose can contribute to their communities and the ongoing positive impact they can bring over time.
Entertainment: Taylor Re Lynn – Founder, Cultured Focus Magazine
Taylor Re Lynn, Editor-in-Chief of Cultured Focus Magazine, is fueled by the desire to create positive cultural change, particularly for women.
Cultured Focus Magazine is renowned for showcasing artists and female change-makers across different fields and educating readers on topics that inspire progress in the spaces of equality and inclusivity.
Film Producer: Franklin Eugene – Owner, Franklin Eugene, Producer and Activist
Franklin Eugene, a renowned fashion designer, has added to his extensive philanthropic resume to produce the film ‘Il Moro.’
The film explores concepts around the rights of women and minority groups. Franklin’s contribution to culturepreneurship is evident with his steadfast commitment to showcasing a multicultural collective of talented individuals both on and off-screen.
As the business landscape evolves, the future looks bright when business leaders of this caliber are pioneering respectively to enact cultural change within their given business sectors. The Culture and Creative Industries are key drivers of innovation, social and economic growth. The increasing power of the culturepreneur has the potential to enrich the business world and shape a more diverse and inclusive future across industries.