An interview with Elisabetta Lazzaro, Professor of Creative Economy at HKU.

You need creative professionals to do this

Elisabetta Lazzaro is the new Professor of Creative Economy at HKU. She will focus her research on the valorisation of the creative process and innovative business models for the creative industry.

Her professorship will contribute to a greater recognition of the value that creative professionals can generate, both within and beyond the creative industries. Artists need to ask themselves how they can better exploit their skills and abilities in less traditional jobs. Society must find an answer to the question what is the specific and overall importance of creative people?

Text: Edwin Verhoeven (editing by Tina Tomlow)

Elisabetta Lazzaro Elisabetta Lazzaro

What attracted Elisabetta to HKU is its lively, creative environment. "At HKU art and creativity are not just studied, but also made. I find it a very dynamic environment, quite diverse, complementary and open to the real world. While HKU is part of the creative sector, it has a real impact on other aspects of society."

One of Elisabetta’s research topics is the socio-economic value of the creative process. "This value is obviously connected to creative individuals being able to make a living out of their creative work and thinking. I am especially interested in how creativity impacts society."

Does society fully recognise the value it brings? "I think that’s not happening sufficiently. There is a need for these creative individuals to be recognized at a wider economic and societal level."


"Schools like HKU have the important role to equip these creative people for a career in the creative sector. One problem is that at the end of a traditional curriculum there is not enough space for everybody to be a 'traditional' actor, writer, visual artist, designer or musician.

Therefore, an important question for students is: How can I exploit my skills and abilities in a wider range of jobs? This topic touches me personally, because pondered a similar question during my studies. For me a straightforward academic career was not completely satisfying. My field of cultural economics was extremely pioneering.

I was able to enrich my curriculum by myself, with extra skills I thought useful for my professional development. The role of the school is also to help the professional to better identify, invent or create their own profession. In an economically sustainable way."

Research plan

Elisabetta and her research group have a research plan, which incorporates two main elements: the valorisation of the creative process and innovative business models for the creative industry. These business models will particularly consider creative entrepreneurship. Further research questions will include:

What are the mechanisms that allow innovative makers, for example in the music or gaming industries, to be economically successful? Covering these issues implies concrete empirical mapping and important synergies with other HKU professorships, education and learning programs and centres of expertise. The professorship will also discuss and test related existing general theories and models, and suggest possible improvements and more specific applications.


Talking about the valorisation of the creative process, Elisabetta cites artistic intervention as an interesting example. "We are already working on that. What can the contribution of creative professionals to other sectors be exactly? Take for instance their role in disentangling a company’s problem. They can play a crucial part in complex situations, stimulating different approaches and inspiring alternative solutions.

It is important for creative professionals to claim their role. Do not let the companies have the impression they can fulfil that role themselves. A true artistic intervention can only be done properly by a trained creative professional."

Elisabetta on her educational career

"I studied piano at the Conservatory of Padua, where I got my diploma in music theory, and trained in fashion design, which I practised at my family business.

Then I graduated in Business Economics at Venice University, followed by a Master in Cultural Economics at Paris 1-Sorbonne University, where I also obtained my PhD with a Thesis on Cultural Economics jointly at the Free University of Brussels.

Important study and research fellowships in these and other countries allowed me to specialize in cultural economics through a diversified practical experience in various domains of the creative sector."

Elisabetta in her spare time

"I’m really fanatic about opera, from Monteverdi to contemporary works. I like art in all its forms; I’m an amateur dancer and photographer, and have been active in design. But opera... it’s a matter of intensity. So many different media incorporated there. I can also enjoy a dramaturgical play, but often I imagine a possible music intervention."