How do the creative arts and startups mix?


This is a piece of writing in which I ask many questions and offer few answers, although at the end of this tunnel of words, you’ll find a little light.

When it comes to German cities and their reputations in the ring of the creative arts, Leipzig punches well above its weight. I’m not just talking about the legacies of Bach, Wagner, the Schumanns, Mendelssohn, Goethe, and even its publicly funded institutions. Moreso, the quality cultivated by its individual artists, independent theatres, spaces, communities, activations and happenings relentlessly keep the curious in front of canvases and stages, furrow browed or exaltant.

Most of these artists do it for the love (or to scratch the constant itch), relying on other strategies for survival.

Of course this news is nothing new. You’re reading this because you know it too. But there’s another burgeoning industry in our city…

There’s no denying that the word startup is a bit of an ‘it’-word today. Granted, fidgetspinner had a decent look-in earlier this year, but I’d go as far as to say that startup‘s been consistantly at least in the top 10 for the past handful of years.

Since joining the team at Basislager Coworking, Startup Safari Leipzig, Leipzig Startup Weekend, and as a manager of Starter Space in Höfe am Brühl, I’ve come to discover that Leipzig is home to a vast and rapidly growing number of startup companies working their guts out to get products and services off the ground, and then to keep them up.

Like the artists, the people behind these projects are passionate, brave and work to the bone with no guarantee that their investments will actually pay off.

As a co-moderator of the Facebook group Leipzig Startup Jobs, I’ve often read companies spruiking come work in a startup environment, dangling associated carrots such as free fruit and coffee, tischtennis and kicker, beanbags and flat hierarchies. Although nice and generous, many such companies do not fit my understanding of what a startup actually is and, to be honest, if they really knew what working in a startup entails, I wonder if they’d promote it.

So what exactly is a startup, and what is art? Why do people starve or sell parts of themselves for the purpose of finding salvation in such pursuits? And why is Leipzig a mecca for these awe-inspiring self masochists?

Apart from the two fields being malleable in their definition, low in terms of remuneration and demanding in/on their mental, emotional and hourly investments, what do they actually have to do with each other?

Should the creative arts and startup businesses in fact have anything to do with each other?

I’ll be heading along to SpinLab, where celebrated British painter Ryan Mosley will be in conversation with serial entrepreneur Jan Winkelmann to find out how these worlds (can) mix.

If you’re interested, you should come too. It’s in English.


The series continues in October…

stARTup – Art x Entrepreneurship #2
Tuesday 24 October, 6 pm
SpinLab, Spinnereistr. Halle 14, 2OG.

Sam is Australian and enjoys writing, making films and taking photos. In Australia he worked as a digital marketer for international arts festivals and in Germany he works for Basislager Coworking and Starter Space. Through documentation, Sam enjoys discovering exciting things in mundane happenings. See more of Sam's work at

Default thumbnail
Previous Story

Finding meaning and magic in the mundane

The home crowd went wild as they saw the Sachsen team from Wurzen (20 mins. east of Leipzig) just edged out by reigning champions Krefeld in the final of the first league. (Photo: Alexander Pischke)
Next Story

Wasserfest: jumping into rowing madness

Latest from Arts