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The Business of Culture

Executive Program for Leaders in Arts and Culture

The Business of Culture Program is an executive program for leaders from the arts and culture sector in the Nordic and Baltic regions. The program is tailored to enrich and develop participants’ understanding of how effective leadership, business acumen, and networking can transform their organizations. It equips leaders and executives with strategies and tools to effectively advance their organizations.

The Nationalmuseum - the largest art and design museum in Sweden - is collaboration partner of the program.

The program will draw on the multiple perspectives – innovation, leadership, design, and strategy – of an organization engaging in future processes to explore potential change in arts, culture, and creativity.

The support of the Art Professionals plays a key role in ensuring lifelong learning in leadership and strengthening collaboration in the Art and Cultural field. Arts and Culture professionals are supported in this program by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, the Saastamoinen Foundation, the association Föreningen Konstsamfundet and the Kulturfonden för Sverige och Finland.

“The culture industries are growing fast in the Nordic and Baltic countries, as in the whole of Europe. This industry is creating new jobs while at the same time facing new demands and positive challenges. We need top leaders with top training for these posts. Consequently, we need high profile training for the future game changers.” Susanna Pettersson, Director General at Nationalmuseum

Ever-changing social, economic, and technological trends impact how audiences engage with culture and the arts, and how the industry produces and presents creative work. The need for cooperation with networks and stakeholders and for setting joint targets will increase.

To strengthen the position of culture in society, leaders need skills and competencies to impact beyond their organization and the field itself. This new era calls for new business skills and a change in leadership mindsets.

Broaden your horizons – Experience the best and the latest expertise from international faculty and business leaders and from acclaimed art and culture programs across the world.

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Discover and challenge – Have the privilege to join the first of its kind consortium program across the Nordics and Baltics led by Aalto EE in collaboration with the Nationalmuseum, Sweden.

Analyze and focus – Take the opportunity to explore and think in your own time with the blended format comprising two online courses and nine intense face-to-face days in three countries.

Broaden your horizons – Experience the best and the latest expertise from faculty and experts from the Nordics and Baltics and from internationally acclaimed art and culture programs across the world.


Join the program to build your business acumen and contribute to finding unique ways for art and culture institutions to stay relevant and have a greater impact on society. Meet and network with other leaders and experts and explore new and innovative concepts.

Transform from expert to leader through a self-development process
Cultivate a mindset of change and innovation and develop an entrepreneurial attitude towards the business of culture
Build a stronger understanding of how to deploy organizational strengths and external networks to maximize creativity and collaborative outcomes within the community
Gain a deeper understanding of the world around us and the key factors impacting on society’s view of the purpose of our existence and the rise of humanism

About Nationalmuseum

Nationalmuseum is Sweden’s largest art and design museum, and one of the country’s key institutions for collaboration in its field both in Sweden and abroad.

Nationalmuseum is a government institution that falls within the remit of the Swedish Ministry of Culture. The mission is to preserve the nation’s cultural heritage, provide knowledge and expertise, and promote public access to art. The core focus is on displaying, collecting, preserving and researching.





The program is designed for professionals working in arts and culture organizations in Nordic and Baltic countries. The applicant should be in a leadership position and highly motivated to take their skills to the next level. The program is for dynamic experts who are eager to grow as leaders and are enthusiastic in embracing and living the business of culture. We are seeking both young and seasoned practitioners to stimulate cross-fertilization of ideas, insights, and experience.

In the recent past, the world has changed considerably, and so have art and culture organizations. It is becoming essential for leaders in this sector to have the right knowledge in order to make strategic decisions about how to respond to today’s needs and new ways of working.

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Contents and Schedule

The program is divided into three themes. The first starts with a self-development process focusing on increasing self-awareness and strengthening the ability to lead and steer change in the workplace and beyond. The second theme develops business acumen in strategic management and planning and offers tools and frameworks for design thinking and creating a growth hacking mindset in the digital era. The third theme focusses on building a culture that supports strategy, effective communication, and audience and community engagement. This last theme ends with a discussion of how arts and culture have the power to convey and inspire societal change.

The program will be delivered through three 3-day modules and two online courses. Module days will include lectures, keynotes, discussions, and workshops. Interactive and reflective tools and methods will be used throughout the program to help thinking and renewal. Mindfulness sessions* are used to augment learning. Evenings are reserved for receptions to meet with arts and culture colleagues and network with peers from the program.

An optional coaching element is available to participants.

*Mindfulness – a tool for leadership, creativity and learning
Many leaders and other employees experience stress and psychosocial problems related to work, which in turn leads to negative consequences for the creative and learning environment in organizations. Mindfulness is becoming popular as a tool to prevent and counteract this destructive spiral. The tools consist of a collection of contemplative practices to “turn inwards”, create space and time for reflection. Mindfulness methods can be understood from several theoretical perspectives: as concrete training devices for emotional intelligence, health and coping during stress, and/or from the perspective of sustainable leadership and learning.

Program Structure

Nordic networking experience

Modules in Denmark, Finland and Sweden

Three-day module

Intensive face-to-face sessions offering experiental learning and reflective opportunities

Self development process

Growing as a leader with the self-development process, and optional coaching or mentoring processes

Program Schedule


Susanna Pettersson

Dr. Susanna Pettersson is Director General at Nationalmuseum, Sweden. She is an art historian specializing in museum history and collection studies. Before moving to Stockholm, she worked as Director of the Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery.

Dr. Pettersson has worked for more than twenty years in museums. Her posts have included Director of the Finnish Institute in London, Director of the Alvar Aalto Foundation and Museum and Director of Development at the Finnish National Gallery.

She is also Adjunct Professor in Museology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and Associate Professor at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Dr. Pettersson’s research interests include museum history, collection studies, history of art history as well as 19th -century and modern art, and she publishes widely. Her positions of trust include Board Membership of Aalto University (Finland) and she is also President of the Board of the Finnish Institute in Japan.

Pekka Mattila

Dr. Pekka Mattila serves as a Professor of Practice at the Aalto University School of Business. He works frequently with European, Asian, African and North-American executive audiences on themes of strategic management and agility, strategy co-creation, business model innovation, executive leadership, top team dynamics, change management, organizational culture and strategic marketing.

Since spring 2011 he has served as the Group Managing Director and Associate Dean of Aalto University Executive Education.

In addition to his academic activities Dr. Mattila has conducted an active business career. Currently he serves as the Chairman of the Board or as a Member of the Board at a number of innovative companies. Previously he served in executive, management and senior staff positions in the Nordic financial services industry. Currently he serves as a Member of the Board of The Finnish National Gallery. From 2009 till 2017 he served as the Chairman of the Board of the Helsinki Festival. He is a Founding Member of Nordic Institute of Business and Society.

Dr. Mattila holds a doctorate and masters in sociology at the University of Helsinki and an Executive MBA at London Business School. Over the years, he has frequently visited a number of prestigious European and Asian universities teaching management, organizational behaviour, marketing and sociology. Dr. Mattila has authored a number of managerial books on leadership, change management and strategic marketing and sales.

Dr. Mattila’s consulting and coaching career started in 2003, and his corporate clients comprise over 280 Nordic and international companies, entrepreneurial ventures as well as prominent public sector institutions and NGOs.

Ben Nothnagel

Ben Nothnagel is a Senior Advisor at Aalto University Executive Education and has worked with Aalto EE for more than 20 years. He specializes in developing the leadership skills of executives who are part of ambitious businesses.

Nothnagel's focus is on encouraging individuals and organizations to excel by increasing self-awareness, creating understanding of the individual diversity of performance and results, enhancing influencing-skills and building high-performance leadership teams.

Nothnagel’s current research focus on three main areas: neuro-leadership (practical lessons that leaders can learn from neuro-science), cognitive decision-making and emotional-intelligence.

Nothnagel teaches periodically in Aalto Executive Education Executive MBA programs at various locations in Europe and Asia. He is the owner of Benna Oy and is a Senior Advisor at Aalto EE. He works as a consultant and executive-coach all over the world, including the Nordic-countries, Germany, the United States and Asia. His clients include companies such as ABB, Basware, Cargotec, Danfoss, Daimler, Fazer, Finnair, GE, Hewlett-Packard, HKScan, Michelin, Ruukki, Vaisala and Yahoo.

Nothnagel is an Attorney at Law, Myers-Briggs Certified Interpreter and Certified Emotional-Intelligence Practitioner.

Tua Björklund

Dr. Tua Björklund is Professor of Practice at the Aalto University and one of the founders of Aalto Design Factory, a multidisciplinary experimentation platform in Aalto University and 24 institutions abroad.

Her research has focused on design expertise and advancing new ideas in organizations, both at Aalto University and at the Center for Design Research at Stanford University. She has a comprehensive, human-centered view on what innovation efforts actually need in order to succeed in organizations.

Dr. Björklund currently leads the development of research activities in the Design Factory Global Network and manages four research projects investigating design thinking in Finland and in Silicon Valley.

Risto Sarvas

Risto Sarvas is Professor of Practice and Head of the Information Networks program at Aalto University. Risto has a colourful history overlapping design, business, technology, and society.

The common denominator between these three roles is his endless enthusiasm to figure out how technology and society are intertwined: as a culture, in politics, in business, as well as in everyday life.

His research, teaching, and service design work have received several awards and much popularity.

Risto Sarvas holds a doctorate from Helsinki University of Technology in Media Technology.

David Purdy

David Purdy is Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Communication at New York University Stern School of Business.

Professor Purdy draws on more than 25 years of experience and education in business and the arts to help students, executives and entrepreneurs think and influence more effectively both in person and online. His research in Aesthetic Intelligence draws on the arts and humanities – and insights from neuroscience – to help others connect, communicate, and collaborate effectively.

He received an education degree in music from Temple University and an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Maryland. He also studied for three years at the Studio Theatre Conservatory (Washington DC) and has studied entrepreneurship best practices through both the JumpStart and FastTrac programs at the Levin Institute.

Sanne Kofod Olsen

Sanne Kofod Olsen is Dean at the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts at Gothenburg University since 2018 and was before that the Vice-Chancellor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts/Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen.

Since 2005 she has been the executive manager at Funen Art Academy and Museum of Contemporary Art in Denmark and has had a focus on change management, strategy, and development in these institutions. At present, she is leading a strategic development process at the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Art as dean.

She has worked within the field of visual arts for more than 20 years both as a curator, writer and manager and has been teaching contemporary art at the University of Copenhagen and at the art academies in which she worked. She has a profound experience in collaborating with artists and academics in institutional settings and has developed new strategies, visions, and institutional identity through participatory management methods.

Sanne Kofod Olsen has two degrees in art history from Copenhagen University and has recently achieved a master in management development at Copenhagen Business School.

Johan Magnusson

Johan Magnusson, PhD, is an associate professor at the Department of Applied IT, University of Gothenburg. There he acts as head of the division for information systems, and as a co-director for the Swedish Center for Digital Innovation.

He has a background in management accounting and devotes his time to research within the field of how digitalization topples old assumptions in governance and control, and how it forces us to balance innovation and efficiency in a new manner. He is active as an external keynote and advisor for organizations within both the public- and private sector and is highly engaged in the public debate concerning the digitalization of society.

Key Notes

Tristram Hunt

Dr. Tristram Hunt is the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London – the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance.

Since taking up the post in 2017, Dr. Hunt has prioritized support for design education in UK schools, expansion of the photography department, and encouraging debate around the history of the museum’s global collections.

Dr. Hunt’s priorities are focused on the transition to a multi-site museum, with V&A Dundee, the redesign of the Museum of Childhood, and the development of a new museum and open access Collections and Research Centre in Stratford, East London.

Prior to joining the V&A, Dr. Hunt was Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central and Shadow Secretary of State for Education.  He has a doctorate in Victorian history from Cambridge University and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  In addition to numerous radio and TV programmes for the BBC, he is the author of Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City (2005); Friedrich Engels: The Frock-Coated Communist (2009); and Ten Cities That Made an Empire (2014).

Karri Kaitue

Licentiate of Law Karri Kaitue is a board professional and business manager. He has served as Director at Ekokem and Deputy Managing Director at Outokumpu Oyj. In Finland, Kaitue has been for example the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the University of the Arts, Destia, and CapMan.

Currently, Kaitue holds several board positions internationally.

Kaitue has an extraordinary and fresh view of the management challenges and goals of cultural organizations combined with strong business management experience. For Kaitue the success of the cultural sector and the successful dialogue with the rest of society is an important value.

Fearghus Ó Conchúir

Ó Conchúir is a choreographer and Artistic Director of National Dance Company Wales, where he is supporting the company to do innovative work with and for all kinds of people in all kinds of places. Through his career as an independent artist, he has collaborated with artists and experts from other disciplines to make film and live performances that have been seen across Europe, in the US, Australia, Hong Kong, and China.

Ó Conchúir has been commissioned to do work for companies such as Croí Glan Integrated Dance Company and Maiden Voyage.  His work, The Casement Project was part of ART:2016, the Arts Council’s program for Ireland 2016 and of the Culture Ireland International Programme for that centenary.

Brought up in the Ring Gaeltacht, Ó Conchúir completed degrees in English and European Literature at Magdalen College Oxford, before training at London Contemporary Dance School.  He has been Curator of the Artistic Programme at Firkin Crane in Cork, Trustee of the BBC Performing Arts Fund and a board member of Dance Ireland, Dance Digital, Project Arts Centre and Create. He was appointed to the Arts Council in 2018 and became Deputy Chair of the Council in 2019.  The first  Ireland Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme, he continues to contribute to the programme’s work, in the UK and internationally, as a facilitator, coach and speaker. Fearghus is a Project Artist, a member of Project Arts Centre’s associate artist scheme.  In 2017, he completed his PhD as an inaugural Irish Research Council Scholar at Maynooth University’s Dept. of Geography.

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Program Fee and Application

We invite you to apply for a place on the Business of Culture program. We are specifically looking for applications from curious leaders and executives from the Arts and Culture field in the Nordic and Baltic countries. You can apply straight to the program or leaving us a pre-application.

Program start