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The Business of Culture

Executive Program for Leaders in Arts and Culture

The cultural sector, like any other sector, is facing challenges because of social, economic, and technological trends and their impact on customer behavior 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.

The Business of Culture program is an executive program for leaders from the Art 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.

BI Norwegian Business School is a co-operation partner of the program. The Nationalmuseum, The Royal Danish Theatre, and Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival are collaboration partners of the program.

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 by the AKO Foundation, the Saastamoinen Foundation, the association Föreningen Konstsamfundet, and the Karjalan Kulttuurirahasto.


“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.

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.

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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Customer Feedback

The first Business of Culture program in 2019–2020 got overall customer feedback of 5.57/6.

”This program will change your way of thinking about cultural organizations and all the people working in them, but perhaps more importantly, it will impact your way of perceiving yourself and your role as a leader.”

“You might start the program feeling overwhelmed by the demands and pressure caused by radical changes in your business environment - but you come out with an empowered and enlightened mindset. You are not alone in your mission and passion for improving the position of creative industries in society, you have a network, you have power, you have tools, you have a voice and courage to use it."

“Business of Culture is a program that will benefit you immensely as a leader working in any aspect of the cultural sector. If you are willing to be open and vulnerable with the shortcomings we all face as leaders and boldy plunge yourself into participating in the class discussions the effect can be life-altering. Having completed this program I can truly say it has made me a better, more capable, and more knowledgeable CEO.”


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.

Be part of the leaders’ network – Have the privilege to join the BOC network across the Nordics and Baltics led by Aalto EE in co-operation with BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, and 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 seven intense face-to-face days in three countries.

Broaden your horizons – Experience the best and the latest expertise from international faculty and business leaders and from Art & Culture leaders across the world.

About Our Partners

Co-operation Partner

BI Norwegian Business School is an independent, not-for-profit foundation and the main provider of research-based knowledge on business and management disciplines in Norway.


Collaboration Partners





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.

Contents and Schedule

The content of 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 focuses on strengthening strategic relations to add value to your organization and the society around us. 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 face-to-face modules and two self-paced 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. Evenings are reserved for receptions to meet with arts and culture colleagues and network with peers from the program.


The Business of Culture program is worth 7 ECTS credits. If desired, up to 9 ECTSs can be transferred to an Aalto Executive MBA or Aalto MBA program.

Program Structure

Nordic networking experience

Modules in Denmark, Finland, and Norway with receptions to meet colleagues.

Blended learning modules

Intensive onsite and online learning modules offering experiental learning and reflective opportunities

Self-development process

Growing as a leader with a tailor-made self-development journey and a valuable coaching process.

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 is a specialist in strategic management and agility, strategy co-creation, business model innovation, executive leadership, top team dynamics, change management, organizational culture and strategic marketing. 

Dr. Mattila works frequently with European, Asian and North American as well as African executive audiences and is a much-requested speaker at corporate and other events around the world. Over the years, he has frequently visited a number of prestigious European and Asian universities teaching management, organizational behavior, marketing, and sociology. 

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: e.g. media, construction technology, payments, lighting as well as food and beverage industries. Previously he served in executive, management and senior staff positions in the Nordic financial services industry. From 2012 till 2014 he served as a board member at a leading Finnish bank. 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 for the foundation operating the renowned Helsinki Festival. He is a Founding Member of Nordic Institute of Business and Society and the Chairman of the Board for Helsinki Advanced Interaction Studies Institute. 

Dr. Pekka Mattila is the Group Managing Director and Associate Dean of Aalto EE and serves as a Professor of Practice at the Aalto University School of Business. He holds a D.Sc. in sociology from the University of Helsinki and an Executive MBA at London Business School. 


Ben Nothnagel

Ben Nothnagel is a Senior Advisor at Aalto University Executive Education and has worked with Aalto EE for over 20 years specializing 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 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.

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.

Teemu Malmi

Teemu Malmi is Professor of Accounting at Aalto University School of Business. He specializes in managerial control systems, strategy implementation and cost, and profitability accounting.

Professor Malmi has served as a consultant to a large number of companies from different industries, e.g. Computers, Electrical, Energy, Finance, Food processing, Furniture, Health Care, Media, Metal and Engineering, Paper and Pulp, Pharmaceuticals, Rental Services, Retail, telecom and Transportation/logistics. He has also served ministries, municipalities and hospitals.

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.

Terje Gaustad

Terje Gaustad is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture and Associate Dean for BI’s Bachelor program in Creative Industries Management. He is also responsible for BI’s executive program in Production Management for Cultural and Entertainment Industries.

As part of BI’s Centre for Creative Industries, Gaustad has researched the digitization of entertainment industries and published on topics such as digitization and diversity in the film industry, new channel strategies, project strategy, and the economic efficiency of copyright enforcement. 

In addition to his academic work, Terje Gaustad is an associate partner in Menon Economics, a consultancy operating at the interface of economics, politics and the market. He has a professional entertainment industry background that includes producer credits for theatrical feature films such as the British comedies “Save Angel Hope” (2007) and “Nasty Neighbours” (1999).

Educational background: Terje Gaustad holds a PhD in Strategic Management from the BI Norwegian Business School and an M.A. in Communication Management from the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California.

Key Note Speakers


Key Note Speakers in the 2019 and 2020 Cohorts

Sharon Watson

Dr. Sharon Watson was appointed CEO and Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in May 2020. Prior to that, she was the 7th and longest-standing Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre.

Trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, she was one of the first female Principal Dancers invited to join the all-male award-winning Phoenix Dance Company, touring with the company from 1989 to 1997 where she choreographed Never Still and Shaded Limits. Having left Phoenix to pursue a number of other ventures including setting up her own company ABCD, Sharon returned in 2009 as the new Artistic Director.

During her tenure at Phoenix Dance Theatre, Sharon has received a number of awards and accolades: In 2010, she was named as one of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s ‘Women to Watch’, a list of 50 influential women working in arts and culture in the UK. She recently received the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts’ Companionship Award from Sir Paul McCartney and was recognized as one of ‘100 faces of a vibrant economy 2017’ by Grant Thornton. 

Sharon’s recognitions are a testament to her continued passion and drive to contribute to the local and national creative industries through the medium of dance. She is committed to improving diversity within the arts by supporting the creative voices of women and black and ethnic minority artists.

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.

Kasper Holten

From September 2018, Kasper Holten is CEO of the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen (Denmark’s national home for opera, ballet, drama and symphonic music). Kasper Holten (born 1973 in Copenhagen) was Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera 2000-2011 and Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden 2011-2017.

Holten has directed opera, drama, musicals and operetta in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, Germany, UK, France, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Israel, Argentina, Russia, China, Australia, Japan and USA.

Kasper Holten made his feature film debut in 2009 directing and co-writing Juan – a radical, fast-paced contemporary take on Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, which was praised at film festivals from Korea to Germany and the US.

Kasper Holten has directed more than 70 productions, including many at leading opera houses such as Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Opera Berlin and Teatro Real. His productions include: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Copenhagen), Carmen (Bregenz Festival), Eugene Onegin, Don Giovanni and Meistersinger (Covent Garden), Der Rosenkavalier (Lyon), Idomeneo (Vienna) and Lohengrin (Berlin), as well as a number of new commissions. Several of his productions are available on DVD.

He is a sought-after motivational speaker on leading and developing extraordinary talents, and he has worked as a teacher at schools and Young Artists Programmes in Denmark, Sweden and the UK.

He is former Vice President of Opera Europa, has been a member of the Danish Radio and TV Board and the Danish Arts Council, and is an honorary professor at Copenhagen Business School. He has received a Knighthood and the medal ”Ingenio et Arti” from HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and is a Commander of Romania.

For further information, please go to www.holten.com

Featured Insights

Program Fee and Application

We invite you to apply for 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 leave us an application for funding or register straight to the program if you have your own funding for the whole fee.

Please note, that you can also apply for scholarships yourself from non-profit funding organizations in your own country. For example, the possible Estonian participants in the Business of Culture program 2021–2022, we suggest applying for a scholarship from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia www.kulka.ee.

Program Start