CHRISTIAN HAVE: BIOGRAPHY
Christian Have has one of Denmark's most significant voices in the public debate surrounding arts and culture. His goal is to preserve, promote and develop the field as a public debater, speaker, moderator, author and last, but not least, the Creative Director of Have Communications, which he founded in 1983. Over three decades, Have Communications has grown to be Scandinavia's biggest communications agency within the cultural field. Along the way he has worked with a plethora of people – from upcoming artists to global super stars – and released a wide array of books about culture and communication.
It all began in the world of music. Four school friends formed a pop group called Mabel. Their debut album was released in 26 different countries, and they hit it big in Denmark, when they won the Melodi Grand Prix, leading them to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Boom Boom. This was followed by a five-year international adventure for the band, which included extended stays in both Madrid and New York.
The adventure ended in 1983, and drummer Christian Have brought along his many experiences in the music business with him when he launched his new career as a self-employed communications professional.
His first customer was the nationally beloved actress Bodil Udsen, who became Have’s mentor and guardian angel. Within long, he got steady work for several theaters in and outside Copenhagen, including Gladsaxe Teater, Nørrebro Teater and Østre Gasværk, and the foundation of what still exists as Have Communications today was laid during these early years.
Have has been a pioneer within the communication and marketing of culture, and his approach from the get-go has been that the artistic content – while working to gain a larger audience and better funding – should never be compromised.
Ahead of his time
Throughout his career, Have has wanted to be ahead of his time. He has succeeded several times, but he has also received a beating here and there, when things have not gone down as he had predicted. As early as 1984, he demonstrated his foresight as he helped produce a report on culture sponsorships and the interest of the business world in supporting the world of culture – long before it became as natural for the business and cultural spheres to meet as it is today.
At the same time, Have has been among the first to effectively use award shows and events as dedicated tools of communication. Other focus areas in his work include culture tourism as a societal booster, the roles of digital platforms in cultural communications, as well as the dangers of the celebrity culture that has fastened its grip on the entire Western world.
With his books, Responsibility or Anarchy and The New Golden Age, he is focusing on the discussion of whom should pay for arts and culture in the future. As such, the development of sustainable business models that can future-proof arts and culture is one of Have’s main focus areas.
His thoughts and ideas regarding Corporate Cultural Responsibility – or simply CCR – has attracted positive attention, both in Denmark and internationally, and he is continuously working to set a substantial agenda within the field. This happens, not least, via the Culture Meeting on Mors, which he is deeply committed to.
The versatile portfolio
As the head of Have Communications, Christian Have has worked with Academy Award-winning movies such as Babette’s Feast, Pelle the Conqueror and In A Better World; the benefit concert Rock for Africa, which signaled a new era of collaborations between NGO’s and the world of culture; the Eurovision Song Contest 2001 in Copenhagen – and not least the widely discussed celebration of Hans Christian Andersen’s 200th birthday, which for Have became a good example of how much there is to learn from things that do not turn out quite the way one hoped they would.
Among the big names – from Michael Jackson to Susanne Bier – there is also a lot of upcoming artists, operators from the cultural underground and humanitarian organizations to be found in Have’s portfolio.
Have has been nominated for and won many awards – both personally and for his work with Have Communications. Especially his work with Årets Reumert – the premier theater award in Denmark – has resulted in honors, in the shape of two Golden World Award nominations and a Stevie Award for Best Live Event of the Year.
The long-running work with the Danish Donald Duck magazine and the Children’s Heart Foundation has also been rewarded with Stevie Awards, and furthermore, Have has won the title of Best Communications Executive from the same organization. Additionally, he has won the Teater 1 award for his commitment to and rethinking of theater in Denmark.
Well-travelled – and preferably to Egypt
Several times, Have has said that he never truly feels as if he goes to work – he has dedicated his life to ensuring the best possible conditions for arts and culture. In 2010, he stepped down as CEO of his own company and became Creative Director instead.
This opened up new possibilities, and since then Have has spent more time authoring books, giving talks, doing presentations, working as a moderator and as a member of several boards. The work, and not least the many talks and presentations, has Have traveling far and wide around the world.
He does not simply travel for work, however. Especially Egypt is a frequent destination for Have, when he gets to choose freely where in the world he would like to travel. Here, he explores the old ways of the ancient civilizations, and it has become a field that he has become more and more engaged in during his travels.
Most comfortable under the radar
Even though he has used more than three decades on working with personalities from the world of culture – such as actors, directors, pop stars, visual artists and authors – Have himself has never become a celebrity.
Except for the situations in which he explicitly puts his own name on things, he feels most comfortable under the radar – both professionally and privately. So even though many people know Christian Have, the true inner circle is reserved for a very select few.