Alumni Spotlight: Lisanne Brouwer on crowdfunding and her career in the creative sector

Name: Lisanne Brouwer 

Year: 2017 

Major: Human Diversity 

Master: Arts Administration & Cultural Policy 

Hi Lisanne, thanks for having us!  We graduated LUC together in 2017, where you studied Human Diversity. Can you tell us a little bit about where life took you afterwards? 

After graduating LUC, I wanted to gain some work experience. I knew that I wanted to work in the cultural sector, which meant that work experience and having a network are probably just as important as the appropriate education. So I decided to apply for some internships. 

And you quickly found a good match, didn’t you? 

Yes! I found a 6-month internship with Voordekunst in Amsterdam, a non-profit crowdfunding platform in the creative sector in The Netherlands. During my time there, I got to supervise lots of artists and cultural institutions in running their own crowdfunding campaigns. The goal of Voordekunst is not only to help them to fund their projects, but especially to help them to connect more with their audiences, to build a relationship with them in a new way. It was a good match, because I am very interested in how to bring art and audience together and also in finding new ways of funding the arts. I spent a few months in Vienna afterwards, where I did a second internship at a magazine for expats. During this year, I also realized what Master’s I wanted to do: Arts Administration & Cultural Policy at Goldsmith’s, University of London.

Lisanne at an event of Voordekunst

Did your time as an intern help you to come to your choice for your Master’s?

Definitely. I already came to LUC with the idea of wanting to do something with facilitating art and culture in society. Not necessarily ‘art for the sake of art’, but something more connected to social engagement. The internship showed me that arts policy and funding really is a field to work in. In a way it’s a really young field as well, because crowdfunding and digitization in the cultural sector are all relatively new. It also made me realize that I wanted to do my Master’s outside of The Netherlands, because the cultural sector here can be quite inwards focused: sometimes we really need some outside perspective. 

How did you like the programme? 

The programme itself was very much about business planning, entrepreneurship and those things. Very skills-based, which meant it did add a lot of practical perspective to the knowledge I gained at LUC. Personally, however, I would have enjoyed a deeper theoretical, organizational understanding as well. I think what I enjoyed most were actually the artistic and cultural opportunities in London. And what was also really fun was that many fellow alumni decided to go study in London as well. We were in touch a lot, which really made London feel like a home away from home. 

Lisanne with some of the cultural reviews she wrote in Vienna

You went to London on a scholarship. Do you have any tips for fellow alumni who are planning to do so? 

Finding out what scholarships are available was the most difficult part. I got help from the ‘VSB Fonds’, which is a good scholarship if you are a Dutch student wanting to do your Master’s abroad. They also select the candidates from a perspective of societal engagement, not just grades. I coincidentally heard about it through other LUC students, and I think Leiden University has some resources on the different funds available as well. So my main tips would be: if you want to study abroad, just ask somebody who knows about the scholarship options, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are quite some options out there. And don’t be late with this, because the application process can take a really long time. 

Thank you for sharing that with us. Tuition fees can be a real constraint for many people looking for the right programme after LUC! You are currently back in The Netherlands. Can you tell us about what happened after London? 

The cultural policy field is quite niche, of course. Luckily, I was still in touch with Voordekunst, and they offered me a job! They were starting a new branch called Creative Funding. It is an advisory trajectory where we teach cultural institutions about relationship management, and how to deal with individuals rather than foundations who donate to your cause. How to turn one-time donors into long-term ambassadors? So rather than just supervising campaigns, I am now doing more strategic work. We also recently published a research project about giving to individual artists and how we can create a giving culture in The Netherlands. 

Lisanne with some fellow alumni at a VSB Fund award ceremony

A theme that is more important now than ever, of course. Given the year the cultural sector has had. 

Exactly, but we actually saw so many donations over the past year. Crises like these bring about this feeling of ownership in art lovers and make people realize that they need to do their part in making sure that their favourite artists and cultural institutions can keep creating. Art is from everyone, but you cannot rely on government subsidies only.

How do you think your time at LUC helps you in your day-to-day work? 

Well, a parallel between my current job and LUC is that I tend to touch upon many different topics. I studied topics like gender studies, sociology, cultural translation, visual arts and theatre in university. At Voordekunst, I also see many different projects with different artistic and societal outlooks. The nice thing is that thanks to LUC, I have some knowledge about all of those things, and I can easily recognize the perspective that the artists are coming from. Even though I do more strategic and marketing work now, it helps me to understand the point of the project.

The way we learned to write and do research at LUC also comes in handy. The research project I did recently was really big, but it didn’t feel like it was too much to handle. In that sense, LUC really was a one-on-one perfect prep. The writing experience helps me in a different way now that I am also co-writing a book with a local artist here in Leiden, about her recent exhibition in Museum De Lakenhal! 

Lisanne at a Beyond Arts theatre play

What would your fondest memory of LUC be? 

It maybe sounds a bit cliche, but for me, it was the first year. Looking back, it really felt like one big party. I also really loved chairing the theatre subcommittee in Beyond Arts, and all the plays and open mic evenings we did. Anything was possible, and there was even a budget for it! Make use of that! 

What would your final tip be for the new alumni? 

Don’t try to plan everything in advance, but stay open for whatever comes your way. I did a second internship in Vienna and quickly left for my Master’s after. Turns out they would have offered me a job otherwise! So, be open, take your time, but if you find something that sparks your interest, stay in touch with people and invest in the relationship. Even if you don’t know what will come out of it! 

Thank you for your time! Hopefully this will help some fellow alumni in navigating the cultural sector, in the Netherlands or abroad 😊 

This post was part of a larger series of “portraits” of Alumni. Want to be featured, have questions for Lisanne, or about alumni in general? Do not hesitate to reach out to Evolucio via our websiteInstagramLinkedInFacebook or info@evolucio.nl.w

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