Pianodrome is a modular performance venue crafted entirely from repurposed pianos. Originating as a small-scale community arts project in Edinburgh in 2009, it has evolved into an adaptable, viable and scalable social enterprise model with ambitious global growth plans, thanks to the skill and enduring support of a devoted local creative community.
Blending creative vision, carpentry skills and a shared passion for music, Pianodrome exemplifies the power of community collaboration to turn a modest local arts initiative into a sustainable international social business. The project brought together hundreds of local artists, technicians, organisers and experts who generously contributed their skills over a decade to help transform discarded pianos into a unique, moveable sculpture and event space. With ongoing assistance from the International Social Enterprise Observatory (ISEO), this homegrown creative enterprise now aims to take its innovative artistic concept to a global audience.
Transforming an inspired local arts project into a viable, scalable international social enterprise over the course of a decade brought many challenges:
- As a non-profit, generating any income for the founders took years of iterative development and business learning.
- Finding the ideal balance between maintaining the core artistic vision and developing commercial viability remains an ongoing tension.
- The co-founders initially lacked the wider knowledge, experience and networks to drive global growth.
- The set-up logistics and costs involved in transporting and constructing Pianodromes internationally are demanding.
Without the enduring support offered by both the creative community and external development agencies, Pianodrome may never have evolved from a one-off Edinburgh arts project into the sustainable, adaptable and impact-focused social business it is today.
Several key factors have been instrumental in gradually turning Pianodrome’s global ambitions from creative moonshot vision into feasible reality over the past decade:
- Ongoing hands-on input from a team of over 100 diverse local artists, technicians, organisers and community members who generously contributed their skills and energies.
- Mentorship and development support in enterprise basics, business planning and funding from multiple external agencies such as Firstport, Creative Scotland, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh. This enabled the founders to learn sustainability and strategy.
- New international partnership and growth opportunities catalysed by ISEO’s overseas networks, expertise and funding assistance, opening up global markets.
- A commitment to open communication, patience and willingness to compromise when shaping the enterprise, staying true to core values.
- Leveraging digital technology and creative vision to develop the Pianopticon global arts project and overcome logistical barriers.
This collaborative spirit and adaptability enabled Pianodrome to refine and hone its model into an impact-driven and financially sustainable social business.
From local community arts experiment in 2009 to globally-focused creative social enterprise in 2021, Pianodrome’s 10-year journey demonstrates the power of community collaboration to balance creativity and business viability through shared purpose.
ISEO’s specialized global partnership support has been a critical factor in turning the founders’ aspirations for international growth into reality. With the first North American Pianodrome set to launch in the US in late 2021 and Australia likely to follow in 2022, the enterprise has already made huge strides. Pianopticon will link these Pianodromes digitally to create transcontinental creative experiences.
By embracing an adaptable ethos and enterprising spirit, the founders have proved that an inspired arts initiative can evolve into a viable, scalable social business ready to make a proudly Scottish concept resonate globally. Pianodrome stands as an exemplar of sustainable, values-driven growth without borders.