You are on page 1of 4

“It!

s up to us to advocate the role of
culture by simply doing”,
interview with Sergio López Figueroa
Author: Lidia Varbanova - Date: 02 Nov 2009

Sergio López Figueroa is the director and founder of Big Bang
Lab. An award winning Spanish composer and producer with a
classical and film music background, his role as a cultural-social
entrepreneur emerged in 2004 with the vision to create a
multicultural classical music ensemble using traditional
instruments representing the communities in London, both as a
platform for the creation of new music and as a social inclusion
project Followed by a successful Cultural Leadership award
supported by the British Council, he tested Big Bang Lab
outreach model in Delhi producing an innovative project in partnership with the public TV channel,
Media training centre, NGO, cultural venue and classical Indian music promoters drawing them
into a single project, Delhi City Symphony. He is leading Cultural Social Responsibility, a new
emerging development of CSR where the focus is culture. His contribution to the dissemination of
cultural heritage in new venues and the delivery of creative cross-art workshops for young people
has proved particularlyrewarding for participants and audiences.

1. What is Big Bang Lab? What's its mission? How is it related to social and cultural
entrepreneurship?

Big Bang Lab is a cultural-social enterprise based in London working internationally across Film,
Music and Heritage from innovation consultancy to independent production. As an organisation our
main focus is to create a new language of silent cinema! with new music beyond language
barriers, across age and cultural backgrounds! and provide a sustainable platform for talent
development, community cohesion and intercultural dialogue. We specialize in generating new
commercial, social and cultural value through the creation of new work re-using digitized archive
media and designing programmes that allows disadvantaged communities to access to their
heritage, not only to preserve it but to make it contemporary and relevant. We also help
organizations community development, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or audience
development programmes by making creative use of archives and their heritage and through
public engagement programmes and live events.

Our mission is to contribute to social cohesion, global citizenship and socio-economic development
through the connexion between culture heritage and creativity involving international local
communities and the commercialization of new models, products and services making use of
digitized archive media and! the conversion of intangible knowledge, cultural memories and
traditions for sustainable social change.

Our social innovation model is based on the production of non language based media but culturally
specific and the implementation of! bespoke creative learning, media literacy and capacity building
programmes for young and old people. Through the collective process of creating new music and
new films we fulfill our social aims. Unlike other training providers we are looking at ways to exploit
the new products generated in order to reinvest in employment and socio-economic development
for the participants.

There is a full range and mix of organisations from a Charities to Social Enterprises and Ethically driven businesses that are delivering social value. prevailing the commercial before the cultural values. Becoming a father had an influence adding a sense of responsibility towards my work. However! being ready to trade was another matter. To achieve this goal we work in partnerships with other agencies and organisations in order to guarantee long term benefit.! The first original idea for Big Bang Lab was shortlisted to represent a national conference of Social Enterprises in 2005. We are able to imagine the impossible and this is a very powerful when is used at the service of people. or using music as a product and not an experience. Working internationally was very important to find the connexions instead of differences across sectors. Ultimately being a social enterprise meant to me finding a niche market..culture -! was not in the agenda of the social enterprise sector in the UK. Social Enterprise has provided me with a structure to achieve long term changes and a focus of attention about who is the customer.! So if there is not a market we won't able to achieve our social goals. a new approach that we are initiating which is at the core of all our business activities connecting Corporations. The challenge of making things happen during these two years by testing the market. I perceived and experienced the silos and barriers across the communities. Social Enterprises and Cultural Enterprises to maximize the impact of culture for social change. Evolving from being composer to entrepreneur and deciding to take a more proactive role in change the way things are has been a long process.! . improving the services etc. For many years I worked in education and also this had an impact about how I feel the artists role in society. cultures. Why are you personally interested in social entrepreneurship? Why is it important for you? It was a process and a combination of circumstances. demographics or community. Rethinking and valuing my own Spanish background in relation to the urban environment has had definitely an effect. so I became excited with the idea of building bridges across and fight against preconceptions and other barriers. how to evaluate the social impact and a distinctive framework from where to build up. As artists we need to get away from the "ego" stage and reflect upon our role in society in order to act. the importance to transfer knowledge! to the new generations in a generous and genuine form. The first idea for Big Bang Lab actually started in 2004 with a project that aimed to create a multi-cultural contemporary orchestra in London using traditional instruments as a platform for new music and social inclusion. firstly as a reaction at the lack of opportunities in the market place and the devaluation of the role of composers. I became reactive against arts being used for branding or entertainment purposes only.! I was going back to basics and at the same time moving forward towards the future. being entrepreneurial and trade instead of competing with other artists for a limited number of! grants available. It was then when I realized that cultural heritage could be used as an innovation tool. what transferable skills could allow us to communicate and transform the world?. This is part of a development of CSR as Cultural Social Responsibility. so I became a cultural activist with the foot on the ground! I think being a nomad has had a positive impact in that process. so creative learning became integral to the development of Big Bang Lab. allowed us to get the knowledge and experience to feed! our consultancy services. I started from my own passion with a genuine new concept with no previous references. 2..As a small organisation we are concentrating our efforts in quality over quantity targeting small number of beneficiaries that will eventually become the social changers in their communities. I had some initial "identity" issues about not having a specific target audience. However from the very beginning I realized that my area of interest .

! I was lucky to benefit of an award for one of the international programmes through the CLP. " It is a new concept and requires increasing awareness and education to get more people involved. human rights. What is the impact of social entrepreneurship on the cultural sector? Could you give examples of social entrepreneurship models/organisations related to arts and culture? This is a new area of development. Arts and culture are rarely mentioned in the literature and world practice on social entrepreneurship.! Social networks. We need to interact more and find our own set of standards and competences to measure social impact through culture. However for the general public is still a new concept mostly mixed up with charities. What in your view are the most effective tools and methods to raise public awareness? One of the reasons of focusing our activities in the learning and outreach without the need of advocating for awareness has proved more the most effective form of showing new concepts by actually generating the change. Social entrepreneurship mainly concerns solving social problems by people who take their own initiative to improve areas that they believe are missing or not working. Culture is not perceived as a basic need and therefore people not relate culture to social entrepreneurship. 4. Cultural entrepreneurs are dispersed. festivals. literacy in poor areas and others. . Social Enterprise Day. Art graduates and professionals are getting more and more interested in social change. One of the reasons to connect with this site was actually to find other socially driven cultural enterprises. Social entrepreneurs are active in the areas such as: children health. There are approximately 62.000 social enterprises in the UK with a combined turnover of £27billion but not sure about the percentage of social enterprise within the arts and culture sector. problems with pollution. working in Delhi and helping to define our strategy and models for the future. Many art and cultural institutions have been! providing social value although due to the percentage of public subsidy is hard to consider them as Social Enterprises. I hope social entrepreneurism will be part of the mainstream curriculum. The Cultural Leadership Programme in the UK and the British Council are also supporting those initiatives through training and opportunities as well as the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship in the USA. One example I know is the Albany Theatre in Deptford. sustainability agenda is growing and the public is familiar with fair trade and CSR. climate crisis. organisations and developing programmes where at certain stage those links are created between them was also important.I want to experience culture as a necessity and embark others in that journey. I am more familiar with the UK scene. Public awards and media presence are currently helping to raise public awareness. 3. The raise of micro enterprises in the environmental. local authorities. However we need! business advisors that are aware of how cultural markets operates. but it is up to us to advocate the role of culture by simply! doing. For us the fact of working with schools. museums. venues. The School of Social Entrepreneurs is another point of reference. now a social enterprise. I think this a definitely an area that will be growing in the coming years. Heritage is not only past but in definition the most genuine form of Social Responsibility as a legacy for the future. Fragmentation is one the main problems. The transition is easy for those organisations with long history involved with the local community through the arts.

What you suggested in the question is more interesting which is developing new business models and opportunities.5.com www. At the same time the British Museum was curating a fantastic exhibition of pre-Hispanic games but the content wasn't used or transferred internationally. I find it useful as a space to exchange ideas and meet other people.bigbang-lab.com info@bigbang-lab. Big Bang Lab www. We are developing programmes across cities using the model of our outreach programmes initiated in the UK and tested and improved in India aiming to urban regeneration through cultural activities and collective participation of communities. What forms of social entrepreneurship are taking advantage of the existence of the new technology? Could you give examples of online spaces for social entrepreneurship and comment their usefulness?" I invite you to visit those sites and discover the wide range of social networks online which allow people to interact with each other. but that is another article on its own. The other network which is quite active is Unltd The usefulness so far is to feel that I am not alone.! but also it is a maze. This is still at early stages but IP is our main asset as without ideas and creativity we won't exist.. Collaboration and new forms of partnership is the positive outcome out of this global financial crisis where new systems. The big issue to solve for most of the cultural sector is in relation to Intellectual Property in a more dynamic form. I am building up the capacities to target both grants and clients. I invite people and other cultural entrepreneurs that are committed to social change worldwide to get in touch. 6. networks and models will emerge. I am working in ways of being fair with the distribution of IP and work with a co-operative model of royalty distribution for the artists involved in our productions.. I am also a member of The Hub one of the most exciting and active global networks and working spaces for creative and social entrepreneurs there is lots of interaction face to face and virtually.does the new phenomena “social entrepreneurship” provide new opportunities and business models for the cultural sector? As social enterprises we can have access to various forms of finance and funding beyond purely arts based. I have been recently invited to become a founder member of a network looking at Convergence in CSR attracting more than 700 visitors in the first week. One of the most exciting development for Big Bang Lab at the moment is the evolution of CSR from Corporate Social Responsibility to Cultural Social Responsibility. I find interesting the lack of a socially driven strategy for use the assets that belongs to content owners. The power of social networking and mobile communications is widely used to spread innovative new ideas and drive engagement in social change.com/bigbanglab .This means that for the introduction of a new product in new markets it is a bit easier to break in as we can bring some of the funding so the potential client becomes also a partner somehow contributing with less risk.vimeo. Three years ago I came across to a situation where a Mayan community in Guatemala was using effectively new technologies for learning purposes for their community in their own language.In the current situation of a global financial crisis .