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Business of Culture

Executive Program for Leaders in Arts and Culture in the Nordics and Baltics

Do you have a passion for growing into and succeeding in a demanding leadership position? Do you have a clear picture of your organization’s value creation dynamics? Are you ready to go beyond incremental finetuning when developing your culture business?

A fresh approach to management and leadership is needed to guarantee positive results under changed circumstances in the operating environment of the cultural sector. Cultural leaders need proper knowledge and self-confidence to make strategic decisions about responding to multiple challenges and developing ways of working. To grow into and succeed in a demanding leadership position, leaders need skills and competencies to impact beyond their organization and the field itself. This new era of increasing volatility and ambiguity calls for new business skills and a change in leadership mindsets.

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 designed to enrich and develop participants’ understanding of how effective leadership, business acumen, networking, and collaboration can transform their organizations. It equips leaders and executives with strategies and tools to advance their organizations effectively.

Join the program and learn skills and competencies to change your mindset and impact your organization and beyond.

9 ECTS credits can be transferred from this program to the Aalto Executive MBA or Aalto MBA program.

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You can get the instructions for applying here (no need to leave your contact details).


Business of Culture Keynote 2024: Leadership Like a Creative Act

Got interested in the Business of Culture program?
Watch the keynote and experience the program content.

Watch recording

Business of Culture Strongly Impacts the Leadership and Networks of the Cultural Sector

A recent in-depth survey on the long-term impact of the program, reveals the program's excellent results, with an impressive overall satisfaction score of 5.2 out of 6. This stands as a testament to the program's transformative success in enhancing leadership skills, fostering networking, and stimulating sector growth.

Value and Impact through Collaborations

Program partners have an essential role in the Business of Culture program, their expertise in supporting organizations to develop and participate in the program particularly benefits the cultural field in the Nordics and Baltics.

BI Norwegian Business School is a co-operation partner of the program.

The intention of collaboration between Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) and the Business of Culture program in 2023–2024. We aim for even more vital networking of cultural field operators in the area and increase the industry's impact on society.

BARC Scandinavia
Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC)
Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture
BI Norway

The support of art professionals plays a key role in ensuring lifelong learning in leadership and strengthening collaboration in the field of Arts and Culture. Arts and culture professionals are supported by the AKO Foundation, the Saastamoinen Foundation, and the association Föreningen Konstsamfundet.

Saastamoisen säätiö
AKO Foundation
Föreningen Konstsamfundet


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

Learn from diverse classmates and faculty who together have vast experience in different fields of business and culture.
Increase self-awareness and strengthen your ability to lead and steer change in the workplace and beyond.
Cultivate a mindset of change and innovation and develop an entrepreneurial attitude towards the business of culture.
Build a more vital understanding of deploying organizational strengths and external networks to reimagine your operations and collaborative outcomes within the community.
Give yourself time away from busy daily life for strategic thinking and reflection, both independently and with peers for mutual enrichment.

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.

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 – Find networks and multidisciplinary collaborations to expose new ways to grow and deliver.

Business of Culture Blog:
The Newfound Curiosity – The First Module of the Business of Culture

Gunnar Ardelius
Secretary General, Sveriges Museer

At the end of October, we met for the first time in a dark and rainy Copenhagen as participants of the Business of Culture 2023/24. I felt tired and drained after a long train ride from Stockholm. I looked around the room at the cultural directors who had joined me from all over the Nordic and Baltic countries to participate in the first session of the course. I realized I was not alone in feeling the way I did; for many of us, our energy from the sunny and warm months had begun to disappear. 

However, Ben Nothnagel was someone with plenty of energy, who stood in front of us in a neatly trimmed suit and with a welcoming smile on his slightly tanned face. He was our course lecturer for the first two days. Listening to him was like slowly waking from a slumber. 

Nothnagel spoke about self-understanding and emotional intelligence on a practical and concrete level. After the first day, I was imbued with newfound curiosity about my abilities and colleagues. I could clearly see how some of the behaviors I had adopted to get more done during a workday – such as replying to straightforward yet urgent emails while sitting in a meeting, my habit of allowing my focus to drift from where I was at the moment – was harmful in several ways. It weakened my relationships, diminished my decision-making capacity, and often led to a feeling of restlessness. But this was something that I could easily fix and improve.

During the three-day course in Copenhagen, I got to know my fellow executives and managers from the different fields of culture and arts, and thanks to the insightful lectures by Ben Nothnagel and Pekka Mattila, our conversations quickly became warm, rewarding, and fun. The qualities and experiences we discussed were equally applicable and relevant, regardless of whether they related to work relationships or family life.

Three days flew by. The rain had stopped. On the last morning, things were completely different from when we first met. The room was filled with conversation, chatter, and happy and energetic faces. It was time to go home and put the new experiences into practice, which now seemed more exciting than in a long time.

Gunnar Ardelius
Secretary General, Sveriges Museer

Customer Feedback

The program got excellent feedback from the last cohorts’ participants, with overall feedback of 5.6/6. The Net Promoter Score is 89.

“Joining the Business of Culture program has been a life-changing experience in many ways. The self-development journey highlighted some of the issues that prevent me from performing at my fullest potential. Addressing these issues has empowered me as a leader and strengthened my sense of direction and leadership ability. The content of the program has been highly relevant. It has also provided valuable insights on how to strengthen strategic relations and stay societally relevant.”

“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.”


The program is designed for professionals working in arts and culture organizations in the Nordic and Baltic countries. We are looking for highly motivated candidates who will bring their strong management and leadership experience to the program and stimulate cross-fertilization of insights and expertise from their field.

We are seeking applicants who can demonstrate:

  • Minimum five years of relevant work experience in managerial or senior specialist positions
  • Hunger to grow as a leader and enthusiasm in embracing and living the business of culture
  • Committed to driving the sector into new areas of collaboration between culture and other industries

Past participants, the alumni, have represented various cultural fields and came from leading positions in their organizations. The networks they built across fields and social capital are now serving as a source of advice, business, and friendship.

Contents and Schedule

The program content is divided into three themes. 

CoPassionate Leadership: The first theme 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.

Distinctive Business: The second theme develops business acumen in managing and innovating operational models of cultural organizations. In this Creative Operational Model Workshop, you will be provided with a set of business and strategy tools and frameworks that are essential in developing and managing a business of culture.

Strategic Relations: The third theme focuses on strengthening strategic relations to add value to your community and the society around us.  


The Business of Culture program will be run in Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Oslo during a half-year study period between October 2024 and May 2025 through three face-to-face modules and two self-paced online courses. All seven module days will include lectures, keynotes, discussions, and workshops with experienced faculty members who are top experts in their respective fields. Throughout the program, interactive and reflective tools and methods will help with thinking and renewal.


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 the BoC receptions to meet colleagues and local delegates

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 for 2024 Program

Professors and Experts

Tuomas Auvinen

Tuomas Auvinen is the Dean of the School of Arts, Design, and Architecture at Aalto University.

Tuomas Auvinen has built his career in the field of creativity and cultural leadership and has broad experience in demanding leadership roles at arts institutions.

He has worked as the CEO of The Association of Finnish Theatres, as Administrative Director of the Finnish National Theatre, and as the Principal and Dean of the Sibelius Academy, amongst other positions. In addition, Auvinen has extensive experience in creative leadership training and consultancy and has held several chairman and board member positions in cultural and creative industries companies. 

Peter Booth

Peter Booth is co-director of BI Centre for Creative Industries and associate professor of creative industries management at BI Norwegian Business School. 

Booth conducts research on the digitization of music, news media, visual arts, and cultural heritage industries and publishes on topics such as digitization and diversity in the sector, the social role of the arts, creative labor, and media and cultural consumption. He has consulted on numerous industry studies commissioned by public arts funders. 

Booth teaches bachelor and master level courses in creative industries and communication management at BI Norwegian Business School and has previously held teaching positions in the Netherlands and Australia. Prior to academia, he worked in management consulting in Australia and France, investment banking in the UK, and worked for over a decade as a visual artist. 

Peter Booth holds a PhD in Cultural Economics from Erasmus University Rotterdam, a Master of Fine Art from Oslo National Academy of the Arts, and a MSc in Finance and Economics from The London School of Economics and Political Science.

Ville Eloranta

Dr. Ville Eloranta is currently working as a Senior University Lecturer at Aalto University School of Business.

He is also Director of the IDBM Master's Program (the Aalto International Design Business Management program for future transdisciplinary professionals) and involved in developing Network University Fitech (a transformative education endeavor of the seven biggest Finnish universities, Technology Industries of Finland, and TEK, the trade union for academic engineers and architects in Finland).

Dr. Ville Eloranta is an expert in design management (connecting design paradigms to management practice), business model innovation (especially platform business models), and distributed ledger technologies (especially open blockchain implementations). He has a solid track record of publications in top-level management journals.

Besides a strong academic track record, Dr. Ville Eloranta has 20 years of experience in design and entrepreneurship solving digitalization challenges, especially for big B2B customers.

Ville Eloranta holds a PhD in Industrial Engineering and Management from Aalto University School of Science and Technology.

Astrid Huopalainen

Astrid Huopalainen is an Assistant Professor in Leadership for Creativity at the Department of Management Studies and Department of Art and Media at Aalto University

Ms. Huopalainen is a qualitative researcher who studies the connections and possible conflicts between art and organization, leadership in creative organizations, and creative work in the post-industrial era. Her multidisciplinary research interests include organizational aesthetics, leadership for creativity, and interactions between art and management.

Teemu Malmi

Teemu Malmi is a 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.

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.

Risto Sarvas

Risto Sarvas is a Professor of Practice and Head of the Information Networks program at Aalto University.

He has a colorful 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 in Media Technology from the Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University).

Keynote Speakers and Inspirational Talks

Anders Byriel

Anders Byriel is the CEO of Kvadrat A/S and a Professor at IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid.

Anders Byriel has worked for over 30 years at Kvadrat, a company founded by his father Poul Byriel and Erling Rasmussen, and has overseen it since 1998. During Anders Byriel’s leadership, Kvadrat has grown from USD 16 mill. to USD 258 mill. in revenue.

Kvadrat produces high-quality textiles and textile-related products worldwide for private and public spaces and has won several significant international design awards. Those collaborating with the company include highly esteemed designers such as Peter Saville, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, architect David Adjaye, and many more.

The company was established in Ebeltoft, Denmark, in 1968 and has deep roots in Scandinavia’s world-famous design tradition. The word “kvadrat” means “square”, the primary design unit of all textiles.

Anders Byriel was ranked in the Top 20 influencers by Wallpaper magazine in October 2015, and in November 2015, he received the Owner/CEO of the Year Award from PricewaterhouseCoopers in Denmark. In 2018, he received the ‘Årets Ildsjæl’ award (the most passionate entrepreneur of the year) from Design Awards, and in 2019 he received the EY- Entrepreneur of the Year, Denmark award.

While working for Kvadrat, Anders Byriel was chairman of the Danish Design Council 2007 – 2012 and has also been chairman of various innovative companies such as ReD Associates. Anders Byriel also served as vice chairman of Aarhus 2017 European Capital of Culture.

Anders Byriel is a member of the board of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the Museum Foundation, and the Louisiana Foundation (voted one of the ten most beautiful museums in the world). Byriel has also served as a member of the board of JP/Politikens Hus, one of Scandinavia’s leading media companies.

He has a master’s degree in law from Aarhus University and an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree from Copenhagen Business School (CBS). From 2020 to 2023, he attended the YPO Gold Harvard Presidents’ Program at Harvard Business School, Boston.

Martin Buck Hegaard

Martin Buck Hegaard is an experienced end-to-end business manager, skilled in partnerships, business development, content marketing, and community building.

With a background in strategic communication, but with multiple award-winning CEO-experience from content agencies, start-ups, and collaborative digital platforms.

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

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

LL.Lic. Karri Kaitue is a Finnish executive, board professional, and investor.

Kaitue is currently the Chairman of the Board of Alexandria Bank and holds several different board positions internationally. Kaitue has been a Director at Ekokem Ltd and Deputy Managing Director at Outokumpu Ltd.

Kaitue’s current positions of trust are Chairman of the Board at Marinetek Group Ltd since 2021, Emilie Capital Ltd since 2018 and Filtra Group Ltd since 2020, and Board member in Elcoline Group Ltd since 2020, Suomen Messut Ltd since 2021, and Off Counsel in Nunziante Magrone, Rome, Italy, since 2021.

His former key positions of trust have been the Chair of CapMan Oyj, Destia Oyj, and Feon Oyj, and a Board member of Okmetic Oyj and Cargotec Oyj. Additionally, he has chaired the Finland University of the Arts. Among his extensive experience in manufacturing, technology, financial industries, and legal fields, he has a close experience and interest in the arts.

Alexander Peitersen

Alexander Peitersen has 25+ years of leadership experience as an international strategy and digital communications advisor for a broad range of leading companies across various industry sectors.

Previously regional CEO of Publicis Communications, the world’s 3rd largest advertising and digital communications network, after selling Reputation, which he co-founded and grew as CEO. Alexander is represented on various boards, is a busy speaker at many corporate engagements, and combined his M.Sc in biochemistry (Copenhagen University) with an executive MBA degree.

Susanna Pettersson

Dr. Susanna Pettersson is an art historian specializing in museum history and collection studies.

Dr. Pettersson is also an Adjunct Professor in Museology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and an Associate Professor at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 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 General at the Nationalmuseum, Sweden, Director of the Finnish Institute in London, Director of the Alvar Aalto Foundation and Museum, and Director of Development at the Finnish National Gallery.

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

Tom Remlov

Tom Remlov, Theater Director and Film Producer, has held several top management positions in the Norwegian art world.

Remlov was Artistic Director at Den Nationale Scene (The National Stage) in Bergen from 1986 to 1996, Managing Director and Executive Producer at the publicly-owned studio and production company Norsk Film AS until 2001, CEO at Den Norske Opera & Ballett (The Norwegian Opera & Ballet) from 2008 to 2014, and Artistic Director at Riksteatret (The Norwegian National Touring Theatre) for a fixed tenure ending in 2020.

Throughout his professional life, Mr. Remlov has been active as a public speaker, educator, translator, and writer and has served on a wide range of committees and boards. Apart from several directorships, he is today Adjunct Executive in Residence at BI Norwegian Business School at the Department of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour.

Ingrid Røynesdal

Ingrid Røynesdal is a Norwegian pianist, conductor, political scientist, cultural leader, and the director of the Norge’s National Museum since 2023.

Ingrid Røynesdal made early contact with classical music because her father was a musician in the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. She studied piano at the Barratt Due Music Institute and the Norwegian Academy of Music with Jens Harald Bratlie, Jiří Hlinka, and Einar Henning Smebye as teachers. She graduated from the two-year soloist diploma program at the Norwegian Academy of Music in the spring of 2005, the same year she completed her master's degree in political science with a thesis on cultural policy.

Previously, she was director of the Edvard Grieg Museum Troldhaugen in Bergen 2011–2013, chair of the board of the Ultima festival, and a commentator and reviewer in Aftenposten 2009–2011. She took over as director of the Oslo Philharmonic from Odd S. Gullberg in 2013.

Ari Tolppanen

Ari Tolppanen is an influencer in financial life and the film industry.

He is known as the founder, CEO, and chairman of the board of capital investment company CapMan Oyj. Tolppanen is the owner and chairman of the board of the film production and distribution company Aurora Studios, Finnish Impact Filmfund, and Kulttuurikasarmi Oy. Tolppanen is a member of the steering group of the new Architecture and Design Museum and a member of the board of the Kiasma Support Foundation. Tolppanen is a long-term collector of Finnish contemporary art.  

Javier Torres

Artistic Director, Finnish National Ballet, International ballet teacher, coach, choreographer, and former dancer with the Finnish National Ballet.

Sharon Watson

Dr. Sharon Watson is the CEO and Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

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 the ‘100 faces of a vibrant economy 2017’ by Grant Thornton. 

Watson’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.

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Program Fee and Application

Aalto EE's Business of Culture program partners are offering financial support for the Business of Culture studies.

You can apply for funding via our webstore and provide us with the necessary documents. Download the details of the application process and instructions and send your application. You don't need to leave your details for the instructions.

Please note that the latest time for applying for the program and scholarships is June 14, 2024.

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