Hamburg's resilient cultural and creative sector defying crisis

Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft offers corona aid, rethinks urban district and appoints creative director
22 December 2020
Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft Content Foresight

COVID-19 is slowing down Hamburg's large cultural and creative sector, according to an annual monitoring report. Last year, the sector ranked third in terms of gross value added after the automotive and mechanical engineering industries. Turnover in the creative sector has plunged by up to 75 per cent - although not in all submarket in the wake of coronavirus. "While particularly strong declines are to be expected in the submarkets of performing arts, film, art and music, the submarkets of architecture, press and software/games will be much more resilient," according to the report.

Hamburg weathering crisis well so far

The findings have implications for the market in Hamburg, said Egbert Rühl, Managing Director of Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft, with increased demand for streaming, podcasts and games. "Hamburg's cultural and creative industries have proven to be truly resilient. All efforts are aimed at developing alternative strategies," he added. Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft is the main point of contact for developing and achieving these strategies and offers stakeholders active support in all eleven submarkets of the creative industries.

© Laura Müller Photography
Egbert Rühl, Managing Director of Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft

Crowdfunding campaign now in second round

The Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft offers information about advisory services as well as funding and economic stimulus programmes and the many projects to which it lends support. During the first lockdown, those launching projects could apply for up to EUR 5,000 in funds for professional crowdfunding campaigns with other creatives e.g., copywriters, graphic designers, photographers or filmmakers. A total of EUR 225,000 was available as part of Hamburg's protective shield for companies hit by corona and has resulted in over EUR 880,000 in private support or leverage of 590 per cent. The Ministry of Culture and Media is making another EUR 100,000 available to continue the successful crowdfunding campaign aid and to benefit more projects. Those interested can submit their applications on the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft's webpage.

Emergency Lab and Fast Movers 

Creatives can also find support in the so-called Emergency Lab and the Fast Mover programme. The latter adapts business models in the media and digital industry, develops brand new funding strategies and helps creatives to earn revenue from existing digital content. The programme was initiated by nextMedia.Hamburg, an initiative of Hamburg's media and digital industry, and has been part of Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft mbH since 2018. The Emergency Lab, launched by the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft's Cross Innovation Hub, targets companies that are in danger of collapsing. Instant digital solutions, for instance, are developed for SMEs with creative professionals during a nearly three-day session.

Content Foresight

Backed by nextMedia.Hamburg and the Cross Innovation Hub, the Content Foresight series and associated corporate partners seek answers to pressing, future-orientated issues early and using interdisciplinary know-how. "After the first round focused on 'mobility', it turned to the interface between content and health in 2020," said Rühl. The publishing company Carlsen Verlag, BKK VBU and MaibornWolff - a provider of IT consulting and software engineering with over 30 years of experience - were recruited as experts. The three companies are now working on a prototype and thus on a concrete joint business model.

Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft's Cross Innovation Lab
© Selim Sudheimer
Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft's Cross Innovation Lab

Designxport and "Artist in Residence"

The Society for the German Language (GfdS) recently declared "corona pandemic" the word of the year. However, other topics including Rühl's plans are topping the agenda despite the omnipresence of coronavirus The designxport is the contact point for over 12,000 designers in Hamburg. Frances Uckermann, Director of designxport, has been in office since July, and is treading down a new path in terms of content. Rühl said: "It's about how design can help shape change in society, the economy and democracy and how the importance of design become more visible. We would also like to set up an 'Artist in Residence' programme in co-operation with the Goethe Institute. We want to invite designers to Hamburg two to three times a year and network with the local scene."

Rethinking Diebsteich 

The company is also mulling a new position as urban creative director who would focus on the interface between communication and administration. Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft would be responsible for user experience or UX design. "It's about making managerial processes smoother and more pleasant," said Rühl. The future of the Diebsteich  railway station is also at stake as a "district is being rethought." Buildings typical of the district are to be preserved and new ones added e.g., a music hall for up to 5,000 visitors or a sports stadium. A centre for the creative industries could be built in existing buildings, as well as a craftsmen's yard, market hall, alternative venues for state theatres in need of renovation and new stages for rehearsals, a hotel and experimental forms of housing. Creatives in Hamburg can thus look forward to plenty of work. 

The Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft has been the main point of contact for founders, employees and solo self-employed people in eleven sub-markets of the creative industries i.e. architecture, visual arts, design, film, literature, music, press, broadcasting, software/games, theatre/dance and advertising since 2010. Its services include workshops, lectures and networking events, individual consultations, coaching as well as grants and assistance accessing financing. The company operates 14 properties and provides workspaces for about 600 users and also helps find suitable spaces. The Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft's incubators, accelerators and labs initiates and boost innovations across the creative industries.