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Mid-Year Update

As 2014 comes to an end, I am in the middle of the research for “Community Arts Organizations and Sustainable Practices: A Collaborative Model.” Dr. Theresa Lant and I wanted to research arts organizations combined with a focus in sustainability – which combined 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.

When I started this summer with the Undergraduate Summer 2013 Research Program, our research on Materials for the Arts (MFTA) initially explored its business model, its stakeholders, its unique governance, and how it affects New York City culturally, sustainably, and educationally. In the beginning of the fall, I focused my research on public-private-partnerships (PPP’s) and its differences from not-for-profit organizations and for-profit organizations. Finally, I researched qualitative and quantitative interview questions to create analytical data through Qualtrics.

On December 12, Dr. Lant and I visited MFTA in Long Island City, Queens to meet with Harriet Taub, Executive Director of MFTA, and Antonio Pontón-Núñez, the Director of Development for Friends of Materials for the Arts (FOMA), the supplemental not-for-profit donor group. We discussed how MFTA started, the stakeholder relationships, and some managerial, structural, and political challenges in operating MFTA. We toured the space and saw how “customers” (not-for-profit institutions and arts organizations members) shop for their materials. During our interview, we also asked for permission to interview “customers” and “donors” with survey questions; they also have data from customers, donors, and volunteers.

From the successful meeting, I am now creating a roadmap for the upcoming semester. With the information from the interview, I will create a structured outline of the organization, a visual “value chain” of the exchange of the materials, and the makings of a research paper based on the analysis of interviews and survey data. In the upcoming semester, I also plan to visit MFTA for more observations and questions. Finally, we will use the information from the MFTA for a strategic feasibility study for the creation of a similar organization for the Pleasantville area in Westchester County, New York. To further explore the study, Dr. Lant and I will schedule interviews with various Pleasantville community stakeholders in the upcoming year.

Ultimately, with the 2013-2014 Undergraduate Research, I noticed an improvement in my own skill as an academic, a student, and a writer. From conducting this research, I am honing my skills in terms of understanding the makings of empirical data, determining relevant and accurate journals in terms of a literature review, and as a concise, detailed, and analytical writer. I am not afraid to ask questions on subjects unknown to me; I am constantly learning about new topics that interest me. Finally, as a writer, I am clearer in my structure and flow – thinking conceptually, while describing succinctly. As 2014 approaches, I am eager to continue with our research!

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