The Research Begins

I proudly present our project: “Community Arts Organizations and Sustainable Practices: A Collaborative Model,” which I will be working on with my mentor, Dr. Theresa Lant.  Dr. Lant is the Director of the Arts and Entertainment Management Program in the Lubin School of Business.  I am a rising senior in this program.  The purpose of our project is to study a unique organization called Materials for the Arts (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/mfta/html/home/home.shtml), which simultaneously collects and inventories unwanted materials and supplies from companies and individuals and makes them available for free to any not-for-profit arts or educational organization throughout the five boroughs of New York City.  Thus, their mission is two-fold: Reduce the amount of material going to landfills, and provide needed supplies to teachers, galleries, theater groups, and educational institutions.

This summer, Dr. Lant and I will conduct a case study of MFTA to learn about their mission, strategy, and organization. We are in an “exploratory” stage with our work – defining the boundaries of our research, reading about the organization and its key players. The ultimate goal of the research is to develop a publishable case study of the organization that can be used as teaching material.   The big picture questions we hope to answer are: What makes the Materials for The Arts work? What is their business model? Can this model of benefiting both the environment and arts organizations be copied and diffused in other communities?

Personally, I have a deep passion for the business side of arts and entertainment, especially the role of a producer in “making the magic happen.” My interest in business came from my early involvement in the theatre. There is an academic aspect of creating and producing that ties into my goals. Dr. Lant’s research and interests in creative industries and their inner qualities mixed with my interest in the models of entrepreneurial and innovative entertainment management led to the beginning of our research topic. Our case will be an academic examination of an organization that ties environmental sustainability with the arts; in a world that is more conscious of the resources and materials we need to pursue our endeavors, the issue of sustainability is important to, and can be facilitated by, arts organizations.  Surely, it is the way of the future – innovative, artistic, and sustainable! From this research, I hope to improve my personal attributes as well. I want to better my writing construction and confidence in analyzing quantitative and qualitative data. I look forward to seeing how my work with Dr. Lant evolves over the summer!

We will use qualitative case study methods to explore our research questions.  This will include analyzing the documentation that is available on the organizations, visiting the organization to see its operations first hand, and meeting with and interviewing key individuals at the organization.

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