How did actori come into being, what personal motivations and stories have contributed to it, what does it mean to be part of the actori family and what is the actori Spirit all about? We asked these and many other questions to the two managing directors Prof. Maurice Lausberg and Frank Schellenberg in a personal interview.
Dear Maurice, in 2005 you founded the strategy consultancy actori GmbH. Today we are the market leader in the fields of culture, education and entertainment in German-speaking countries. How come a physicist founded a strategy consultancy with a focus on the cultural and creative industries?
MAURICE: Art and music have always been very present in my life. I grew up in an artistic household, with classical music and painting. Then, at 15, I played guitar in a punk band to the delight of my parents. My professional life path resulted from a series of fortunate circumstances. As a physicist, I worked with mathematical models and complex systems in particle physics. When research at the Max Planck Institute became too lonely a business for me, I ended up in strategy consulting at Roland Berger. Because of my passion for opera, I was given the chance to lead a project for the Bavarian State Opera. Sir Peter Jonas poached me and so I became production manager there and later built up the sponsoring area. A former consultant colleague of mine, Stefan Mohr, and I then came up with the idea of founding a strategy consultancy for culture and sports, and so actori was born in 2005. Both subject areas grew well in the early days. We realised exciting projects: I still remember well when we tried to establish an investment fund for transfer rights in football or how we built up the largest European running event organiser with B2run. However, the sports consultancy was sold to a larger competitor. In terms of culture, we are now the largest strategy consultancy in the DACH region.
In 2012 you, Frank, became managing director at actori and have since successfully developed the business. We are growing continuously. How did you come to actori and why did you stay?
FRANK: Actually, I came to actori rather by chance. After working in concert and festival management, I came across an internship ad from actori. The combination of culture and sports appealed to me directly - I wanted to try something new. Both sports and culture have accompanied me throughout my life in various forms and manifestations: Whether as a historian or in my activities as a rowing coach, DJ or later as a festival manager. I am fascinated by the energy and dynamics that arise through art and culture. The diverse forms of expression of art and culture trigger emotions, reactions and thoughts in people, which is motivating and also "unique" in this form. In culture, these very aspects play a central role, far from financial issues.
"The actori spirit describes our entrepreneurial spirit and also the way we treat each other."
Internally, we often speak of the "actori spirit" as our glue. What does that mean to you, Maurice?
M: The "actori spirit" describes our entrepreneurial spirit and also the way we deal with each other. All actori team members want to work on interesting and challenging topics with smart and likeable colleagues. Our ambition is to have a positive impact on the cultural landscape. This results in a strong team spirit and a distinct will to create. The latter is also evident in the successful spin-offs by former employees (Future Demand, TimeRide), who are realising their entrepreneurial dreams with our support. There are so many opportunities out there, you just have to seize them. We don't shy away from risks and are not easily discouraged. At actori, everyone has the chance to develop new consulting areas or to become a founder with a clever business idea. I am an entrepreneur by conviction: Thinking ahead, making decisions and taking responsibility - Frank and I take great pleasure in this. For example, when I started in sponsoring at the Bavarian State Opera, there was nothing there to build on. We developed a concept, picked up the phone and started calling companies. It worked. The Bavarian State Opera became the benchmark for successful sponsorship in Germany. Entrepreneurship is about starting, trying, and if it doesn't work, looking for alternatives - that's an important part of actori's DNA. We are not a normal consultancy like others in the industry. In the cultural industry, only those who are really enthusiastic about culture and who offer solutions that find acceptance among the often multi-layered interest groups will gain a foothold. Furthermore, it requires sensitivity and the necessary understanding of how cultural policy decision-making processes take place.