How is Damien Hirst a Cultural Entrepreneur?
An on-going academic debate occupying Entrepreneurship researchers for the past several decades is concerned with defining what an entrepreneur is and what an entrepreneur does. The debate also extends to exploring the influence different types of entrepreneurs have on their environment. In the new creative economy, entrepreneurship has become a central issue for the regeneration of urban space. This essay first differentiates between economic and cultural entrepreneurs and second explores what influence cultural entrepreneurs, especially, have on urban developments. By using Damien Hirst as exemplar for the discussion of the entrepreneurial character and spheres of action, the analysis of his career demonstrates how difficult it is in practice to draw a line between artistic, cultural and commercial activities in the creative economy. Hirst's approach to contemporary conceptual art and his factory-like art production are both controversial and successful as defined by the author. Nevertheless, there seems to be agreement that his entrepreneurial artistic work has had a profound impact on the revitalization of East London and thus can be used as model for urban planners. The author posits that Hirst is a cultural entrepreneur based on this model for creating/regenerating viable economic urban spaces who embraces the blending of the artistic and market spheres.