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Creative Case Studies: A Tool to Engage with the Field

November 16, 2023

The Master of Arts Administration (MAA) program at OHIO is focused on fostering Artist-Administrators. During fall semester, one assignment for graduate students in the Introduction to Arts Administration course is to examine and analyze an arts organization of their choice through a creative case study.

Dr. Christi Camper Moore, Head of the arts administration program, described the creative case study project, “as a way for students to communicate their research in a non-paper format and in a creative and engaging way. Students have created some really interesting, thought-provoking case study assignments! The products of these studies have included podcasts, mock websites, original drawings and three-dimensional books, marketing and branding materials, promotional videos for the arts organization that they studied, and more. Each assignment has not only served the student’s learning but also expanded their portfolios.”

As the field of arts administration continues to evolve and works to better understand the communities and people that arts organizations serve, students in the program must learn to think critically, examine carefully, and communicate information in a variety of mediums. Camper Moore added, “If we intend to authentically engage and build relationships with our partners, students have to gain experience in how to communicate information that is concise, impactful, and accessible.”

Tristen Luken, a visual arts management student with a BFA in printmaking, is handmaking a zine to explore the community engagement programming of a regional arts center. When thinking about her approach, Tristen mentioned, “I wanted to focus on an organization that isn’t just an arts organization, but also is overlapping into STEM.” This interdisciplinary emphasis is not the only motivating factor in Tristen’s work. “For me, this project is a lot more about learning the money aspect of things, which is something that I have really never worked with. I’m hoping that learning about how and where organizations allocate their resources can suggest priorities in funding or funding challenges that will help me make better decisions.” Tristen is not the only student looking ahead with this project. 

Lauren Janoschka, a theatre and production management student with a BFA in musical theatre, is also using this project to explore their future. Janoschka is creating a hypothetical social media strategic plan for a large New York-based theatre company. "This organization is a titan of the non-profit theater sector,” Janoschka stated. “There is a very saturated theatre scene where I’m from in DC, however, I see myself working in that area. The organization that I studied sets the bar for what other non-profit theaters are doing around the country.” Janoschka also aimed to understand, “How are organizations with large operating budgets struggling or succeeding, what practices could be implemented or applied, and what are the lessons learned for smaller non-profits?”  

Mariah Berryman, a theatre and production management student, is also thinking about home with this project. Though Mariah’s background is in music, holding both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, she created a video for the educational and edutainment programming of a national history museum close to where she grew up. “I really want to look at this museum because it is one that I went to a lot growing up,” Mariah said. “I thought it would be interesting to look at it from an arts administration lens. Now that I’m older and gaining this experience, I can look at its programs and ask if the museum is actually impacting the communities it intends to reach and serve.”

Several students were drawn to examining an organization with which they had personal connections. Jacquelyn Stout, a dual major museum studies and art history student, is staging a feature-length news broadcast spotlighting the work of a college museum in Michigan. For Jacquelyn, this creative case study is an opportunity to explore an organization she has fond memories of previously working with. “They are a local community museum. The huge backbone of administration is not something I had to previously think about. That’s why I love this [project] because it is asking us to apply all the things we are learning about arts administration and how these impact the public and community’s experience.” 

These four students, along with the entire arts administration graduate cohort, are exploring and understanding vastly different organizations in unique ways. However, there is a commonality to their work. Tristen pointed to their shared learning experiences, saying, “We, the [MAA cohort], are a group of people coming from some sort of arts background. We are all being trained to think creatively through careful analysis, problem-solving, and communicating our research and ideas.”

MAA students at OHIO can utilize their creative art(s) backgrounds or interests in support of their academic study and to engage with the field of arts administration. Most importantly, students are being asked to critically examine and envision the future of the arts and culture sector, one in which they will have an important role in working to reshape and redefine its trajectory.