Blog One: The Research Roadmap

As fall begins, I am at work on my research project entitled “Community Arts Organizations and Sustainable Practices: A Collaborative Model.” Dr. Theresa Lant and I started this project with the Undergraduate Summer 2013 Research Program. We wanted to research arts organizations combined with a focus in sustainability – which combined Dr. Lant’s research and interests in creative industries and sustainability mixed with my interest in the models of entrepreneurial and innovative entertainment management.

With that, we decided to research the business model of Materials for the Arts (MFTA) (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, we underwent an “exploratory” phase of research, using a non-empirical case study format for our research. We studied MFTA, its unique organizational structure and mission. At the summer’s end, we formulated interview questions for Harriet Taub, Executive Director of MTFA, for an insider’s view on the organizational model.

Having learned about how to create and run an organization like MFTA, during the 2013-2014 academic year we will conduct a research study to explore the feasibility of creating a similar organization in Westchester County. We envision a small pilot program that would leverage and build upon the relationship between Pace PLV, the village of Pleasantville, and the arts and educational organizations in the Pleasantville area.

The feasibility study involves qualitative and quantitative aspects (“mixed methods”), including interviewing key individuals such as Harriet Taub, Executive Director of MTFA; Peter Scherer, Mayor of Pleasantville; Marlene Canapi, President of Pleasantville Community Television; school administrators; Pace administrators; and leaders of local arts organizations such as the Jacob Burns Center and ArcStages. We also will study the economics, logistics, and governance considerations of creating such an organization – specifically, surveying local arts and educational organizations to assess potential need and attitudes toward such an organization. We also want to discover and describe other such organizations in communities throughout the U.S.
Based on this feasibility study, we would create a strategic plan for implementing a local pilot program that could serve as a model for developing such an organization in the future.

Based on the research conducted, we will write a research paper based on our analysis of interviews and surveys conducted during the feasibility study. Over the summer I learned how to design survey questions with Qualtrics and analyzing the results, I am eager to continue to work on this project. Within the next month, we will conduct an interview with Harriet Taub (MFTA Executive Director), and then start developing the quantitative side of research project.

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