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  • New at Leuphana: Prof. Dr. Boukje Cnossen - How spaces influence creative people

New at Leuphana: Prof. Dr. Boukje Cnossen - How spaces influence creative people

2020-01-27 Artists are rarely employed on a permanent basis, nor do they go to the office every morning. Many work independently and from home, in collectives, or in other more flexible forms of organisation. Prof. Dr. Boukje Cnossen, Junior Professor for Business Administration with a focus on cultural entrepreneurship, investigates how space affects the artistic and economic success of creative people.

[Translate to Englisch:] Prof. Dr. Boukje Cnossen ©Copyright (c) 1998 Hewlett-Packard Company
[Translate to Englisch:] Prof. Dr. Boukje Cnossen ©Copyright (c) 1998 Hewlett-Packard Company
[Translate to Englisch:] Prof. Dr. Boukje Cnossen ©Copyright (c) 1998 Hewlett-Packard Company

The façade looks dreary with its large dark glass windows and grey concrete. For a long time, "De Volkskrant" was written in large letters on the box-shaped building that became the headquarters of the national newspaper in the mid 1960s. At the beginning of the 2000s the publishing house moved out. The building became dilapidated, waiting to be demolished. But the concrete block is still there. Today you can read “De Volkshotel“ on its roof, the name a reference to its former function. Now, artists there let hotel guests look over their shoulders as they work. In return for adding a creative flair to the hotel, their rent is below market average. Boukje Cnossen began research on the building during her work at the University of Amsterdam and has since been exploring the influence of space on the creative practice and the economic circumstances of creative artists. She has now taken up the professorship for cultural entrepreneurship at the Institute of Management and Organisation at Leuphana University.  

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in religious studies at the University of Amsterdam, Boukje Cnossen initially worked as an art critic and journalist. She then moved to London to study humanities and cultural studies at the London Consortium a master programme set up between Birkbeck College, the Architectural Association, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Science Museum and the Tate Gallery. "This is where I became aware of the connection between urban space and art,“ Cnossen says. She completed her MRes (Master of Research) and then moved back to the Netherlands. After working for a year as a junior researcher at the University of Amsterdam, where she conducted the aforementioned research on the (present-day) Volkshotel, she eventually received her PhD from the Tilburg School of Economics and Management at Tilburg University (NL).

During her doctoral studies, she conducted research on a former hospital, which was turned into a cultural centre and co-working space for creative professionals. "One of the artists started drawing small pictures of a chicken on the walls of the building. This quickly became the hallmark of the building, up to the point that merchandise items with the chicken were being made and sold. Experimenting with the space, in this case by moderating the walls with images, helped establish a community," Boukje Cnossen explains. With her research, the scholar wants to elucidate the profound mechanisms self-employed professionals in the creative and cultural industries are confronted with.