Masters of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership, Final Projects

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    The Role of Leadership Styles and Team Strategies of Conductors in Symphony Orchestras
    (2024-05) Liu, Ruizhao
    This paper explores the dynamic role of leadership styles and team strategies in symphony orchestras comparing those of conductors in China and the United States. It focuses on how orchestra conductors with different leadership styles attempt to optimize musical quality and ensure harmonious collaboration. Conductors interviewed describe resources needed to learn leadership styles. This research explores various leadership styles, from authoritarian to democratic and transformational, and examines their impact on the orchestra's performance and internal dynamics. Additionally, this research investigates the effectiveness of different team strategies in fostering collaboration and communication among musicians. The paper identifies gaps in current research through a comprehensive review of existing literature, particularly the resources to facilitate this learning. It also delves into how these styles affect orchestra members' mental and professional interplay. The research further investigates how different leadership approaches, including conductor-less orchestras, affect the mental and professional interplay among orchestra members. Key findings highlight the importance of emotional intelligence, adaptability, and a thorough understanding of the orchestral environment for effective leadership. This study ultimately underscores the critical role of teamwork in aligning individual talents with collective goals.
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    Better Together?: Examples and Impacts of Ongoing Resource Sharing and Collaboration in Twin Cities Arts Nonprofit Organizations
    (2024-05) Keefe, Brittany
    This paper explores ongoing resource sharing and collaboration among nonprofit arts organizations based on the study of such collaborations in the Twin Cities metro area. The purpose is to understand how these collaborations function and their impacts. This inquiry is important because sharing can connect and elevate arts organizations despite ongoing economic, social, and programmatic challenges. The research examines five cases representing a spectrum of collaborative models, including a merger, alliance, joint space, coalition, and programmatic partnership. A literature review precedes the case study, centering on definitions and collaboration models in the nonprofit sector, noting the relatively low incidence of arts organizations represented. Research conducted for this study aims to fill this gap using multiple case study methods with interviews across a spectrum of arts organization collaboration types. Findings suggest collaboration can be a successful strategy for arts organizations, fostering sustainability, communication, and crisis response. Key learnings include the importance of clear communication, strong leadership, and formal agreements for complex collaborations. Collaboration models can offer financial benefits and opportunities to evolve over time; however, the most suitable model depends on the specific needs and goals of the participating organizations. This research identifies areas for future investigation, such as the distinct effects of collaboration on business metrics versus artistic outcomes and the lessons learned from unsuccessful collaborations.
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    Advancing LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in the Twin Cities Theater Arts Nonprofit Sector
    (2024-05) McLaughlin, Meghan “Mac”
    This research explores LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the Twin Cities theater arts nonprofit sector. It delves into how HR policies impact LGBTQIA+ workers and suggests recommendations for improvement. Through personal narratives and organizational insights, it highlights the challenges and commitments to inclusivity. Ultimately, the study, through phenomenological research, includes interviews with LGBTQIA+ people in theater organizations and surveys of theater organizations regarding their HR policies and practices; aims to foster diversity and equity, building upon the historical legacy of social progress within the arts community.
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    Heterogeneity & Hierarchy: Collaborative, Cross-Departmental Work and The Dissemination of Power in American Art Museums
    (2023) Gonda, Taylor
    This study examines the hierarchical impact of cross-departmental, collaborative public-facing work in art museums, and whether or not collaborative work that takes place across power levels in the art museum organization leads to more successful projects. This paper finds that cross-departmental and collaborative work in art museums challenges the hierarchical norms in the art museum space. Museum employees surveyed generally felt that greater integration of departments led to more successful programmatic outcomes, but the hierarchical nature of the art museum workplace and the supremacy of the scholarly curatorial voice in the leadership of that space hampers the execution of that integration, and hinders the field’s ability to create truly inclusive, relevant museum programming. An argument is made for deep, systemic change in the art museum organizational structure and culture, and for art museums to use the many resources and tools already available to expand the definition of expertise in the art museum, and to open decision-making rooms to voices outside of executive leadership derived from the curatorial field.
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    Creating Child-Friendly Cities: Engaging Families and Transforming Streets into Playful Environments
    (2023) Kang, Su Ryeon
    This paper explores how residents and arts and cultural organizations can contribute to the creation of Child-Friendly Cities through creative activities and playful built environments. To suggest practical findings, I focus on projects that transform streets into places where children can play, interact, and socialize in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Indeed, collaborative approaches involving residents, urban planners, and arts and cultural organizations can create sustainable and inclusive urban play environments that support the well-being, creativity, and development of children.
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    The Currency of Public Trust: Ways the nonprofit sector builds trust among constituents.
    (2023) Rodel Sorum, Kristina
    In the nonprofit sector, building trust among constituents is of paramount importance to an organization's effectiveness. This paper explores how organizational leadership prioritize constituents and establish a trusting reciprocal relationship with them. Through interviews with leadership figures at nine arts nonprofits in Minneapolis and Saint Paul Minnesota, this paper provides real examples in trust building, repair after a breach in trust, and provides recommendations for best practices.
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    Building the Future of Art Museums: Spotlighting Behind the Scenes Roles in Art Museums and Art Spaces in the Twin Cities
    (2023) Pilarski, Laura A
    This StoryMap dives into the world of behind the scenes roles at Twin Cities art museums through a series of interviews with industry professionals with the central question being how they view the future of museums from their perspective. This question guided our conversations, with topics including: accessibility, labor and compensation, the changing role of institutions after COVID-19, and technology’s impact on the field. This narrative-based methodology seeks to amplify the voices of those who work in less visible roles within museums and the impact of their work regarding DEAI, the art viewing experience, and the preservation of the artists’ vision through exhibition design. A phenomenological approach was taken to further examine the main topics and current events within the field.
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    Nonprofit Crisis Toolkit
    (2023) Kosberg, Abigail
    This toolkit is designed to help leaders of small, community-based nonprofit organizations effectively manage and succeed in moments of crisis. Research on crisis response, prevention, and management has been a major topic of discussion for scholars since the Industrial Revolution. Seminal theorists such as Kevin Burnard & Ran Bhamra (who developed the Resilient Response Framework in 2011), W. Timothy Coombs (the father of Situational Crisis Communication Theory, 1995), Bernard Burnes (a leading scholar on Organizational Change Theory), and many others have discussed the topic and produced a wide range of scholarship, frameworks, and methods for crisis response in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. While the breadth of literature is vast, the scholarship does not yet address how these methods can apply to small, community-based nonprofits (defined here as ones with annual budgets under $300,000 and less than 4 full-time employees). In fact, most of these crisis response resources are financially out of reach, simply try to directly convert for-profit crisis response methods, are improperly scaled, and fully reliant on a large employee base to be effective. Moreover, most of these tools are geared towards other scholars and are therefore not easily accessible/digestible for the nonprofit leaders and board members who need them most. This toolkit addresses that gap in the literature by discussing how predominating theories on crisis response and change management can be more effectively scaled for small, community- based organizations. In doing so, the author identifies 5 key characteristics that recur in nonprofits that successfully weather crisis and then proposes a 10-step process for how leaders at small organization can effectively sort through the literature on these topics. Each section breaks down and assesses best practices highlighted by leading scholars in the field, later using the author’s own experience as an executive director at a small nonprofit in crisis as a lens to help guide readers through the topic.
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    Cultural Colonialism in the Twin Cities Jazz Scene
    (2023) Garmoe, Ryan
    This paper explores the relationship between jazz, white supremacy, and colonialism, and how that relationship manifests in the Twin Cities jazz community. Jazz' s interaction with complex sociological concepts is well documented throughout the music's history. However, the discussion of jazz's racialized and exploited past rarely informs decision-making in everyday jazz happenings. How are current jazz systems the result of colonial history? The data to answer such questions, in the context of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, was gathered through musician-to-musician interviews and a survey created and distributed in conjunction with a local jazz non-profit, Jazz Central Studios. While drawing exact parallels to colonial action is difficult, preliminary findings suggest the Twin Cities jazz community continues to struggle with race and gender dynamics, despite the area's pride as a progressive bastion. Furthermore, the presence of robust state arts funding provides important context on why certain genres thrive and others are left grasping for straws. The Twin Cities jazz scene is well positioned for growth. Strong local musicians and the area's positive disposition towards the arts suggest there is space for jazz to flourish in the coming years, despite generally agreed-upon challenges. This paper aims to spark productive dialogue between key stakeholders and create more equitable, fair, and vibrant jazz systems in the Twin Cities.
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    Twin Cities Latinx Leadership in the Arts:  Personal Reflections and Recommendations for Leaders and Advocates in the Arts Sector
    (2022-12) Martinez, Christina
    With the U.S. Latinx population of nearly 20%, businesses, organizations, and government agencies are increasingly interested in connecting with Latinx audiences, and the arts and cultural sphere is no exception. This report recounts the researcher’s experience working with the Latinx Leadership Council in the Twin Cities within the context of a grant. The council members participated in group discussions to identify barriers to access as a Latinx artist. Through this work, three critical themes emerged: code switching and bilingualism, a sense of invisibility and feeling undervalued, and a desire for community and connection. In organized settings, these themes are expressed as language use, articulated dissent, and a collectivistic orientation. Organizations that seek to attract and retain Latinx artists and audiences must consider how these three themes are practiced within internal and external processes and programs and how they have historically excluded and continue to impact Latinx persons.
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    Exhibiting Racism: How collections of difficult cultural heritage are (not) being presented at two universities in the Midwest United States
    (2022-12) Hammer, Jennifer K.
    This paper is about the study and practice of presenting cultural heritage material remains of systemic racism, a form of "difficult cultural heritage" that challenges the "dominant culture narrative" with a "negative self-history". A literature review defines terms, situates the subject within museum history and trends, shows how it is relevant to current scholarship, and connects it to contemporary U.S. cultural debates and museum practices; thus revealing an industry-standard framework that can be used in the exhibition of difficult cultural heritages. This framework is then applied to current exhibition practices at two Midwest university organizations -- the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, and the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan -- concluding with recommendations for the organizations, followed by discussion and reflection.
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    Connecting With Students Through Arts and Culture:  A culturally informed weekly teacher planner specific to Saint Paul Public Schools
    (2022-12) Shomion, Meaghan
    A wealth of research indicates that when students feel seen and heard in the school environment their learning increases. With the pandemic further disrupting the public school system, it is critical that educators focus their efforts on pedagogies that ensure students from marginalized communities do not fall further behind. Social scientists in the field of education have found that Culturally Responsive Instruction (CRI) has a profound effect on all students’ learning. Teachers who practice CRI are facilitators of knowledge in their classroom, honoring students’ lived experience and empowering them to build on their knowledge. In the following pages I use the literature to show what academics define CRI to be, why it is important, what it looks like in practice and finally, how teachers can be trained in and assessed on their CRI. I then use the literature, combined with my own research methodologies to answer: How can curriculum leaders and cultural experts work together in the Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) to increase students’ feeling seen and heard?
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    Not a Trick! Not an Imaginary Tale! The History of Comic Book Payments
    (2022-07) Dykstal, Henry
    "Not a Trick! Not an Imaginary Tale! The History of Comic Book Payments" tells the story of the American comic book's development in regards to payment of creative artists and writers. Reading a wide base of comics, as well as interviews and scholarly studies of the comic book medium, the conclusion reached is the comic book industry is in a sort of feedback loop. Creators are not taken seriously, so their work is devalued. The work is devalued, and so creators are devalued. The origin of this can be found in how comics creators are paid even now. Starting from the publication of Superman to the founding in Image Comics over 50 years later, the source of revenue of comics evolved, and today takes two forms: freelance work where creators owned nothing to a situation similar to self-publishing, where the creators own everything. The conclusion is that there must be more acknowledgement of creators in a freelance system, alongside more payment in both systems. While the future of the industry, and its ability to reform, does not appear to have a strong movement, the case for creators to be paid differently and better is worth pursuing from a political, artistic, and moral standpoint.
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    A 10-Year Assessment of Equitable Geographic Inclusion in Minnesota's Legacy Amendment
    (2021-07) Alfaro, Benjamin D
    As a dynamic model for public funding to the arts - and the single largest state-based conservation finance measure to pass in the nation's history - Minnesota's Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment dictates annual government spending to environmental, artistic, and cultural causes in an unprecedented method. The Legacy Amendment boasts the largest voter turnout for an issue referendum in Minnesota's history and represents a nationally distinct policy model responsible for more than $3 billion in total dollars designated for the aforementioned purposes from 2009 to 2021. This project interrogates only one of several measurable areas of the policy model, specifically examining the geographic spread of funds over the amendment's first 10 years and using an equity lens to explore the relationship between government spending and the measure of "fairness" as a key criterion for success. Previous research exploring socially equitable public administration has challenged such ambiguous benchmarks for policy goals, instead encouraging more empirical, contextual definitions of how success might be determined. With these critiques in mind, this study lays the groundwork for understanding the Legacy Amendment as a multi-pronged instrument of economic subjectivity by navigating how the relationship between legislative priorities and spending decisions manifested during the first decade of the policy. Initial findings indicate approximately two-thirds of all Legacy funds affected statewide or multi-county causes, demonstrating a broad alignment with policy goals. Despite significant variances in total dollars spent, higher density urban areas and economic development regions demonstrated relatively parallel ratios in their share of Legacy spending per capita. The baseline data collected through this project lends itself to future examination of the Legacy Amendment's other self-described and perceivably benevolent goals.
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    Repair Joy: How small acts of repairing and creatively repurposing existing objects can foster social connection and lead to meaningful climate change solutions
    (2021-07) Sanford, Molly
    Repair culture, a social movement in which people value and practice repairing broken belongings over replacing them, could disrupt rampant American consumerism. Repair enthusiasts believe their actions, even very small actions like darning a sock, ripple and create meaningful climate change solutions. Social connection amplifies repair actions. Through events like Fixit Clinics and mending workshops, people connect, inspire and influence each other, and develop a sense of solidarity and purpose to sustain their climate actions. This investigation, conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, used personal belongings of the researcher to connect to global repair events and repair movement leaders to better understand how social repair events help people connect and learn new skills, even during a global pandemic. In her own home, the researcher created a family repair cafe to complete in-person repairs and reflect on the power of repair to connect people. Findings are presented in a zine format, a freely shareable, narrative booklet, a form often used to promote counter-cultural ideas and promote social change.
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    Of, By, and For: Women of Color in the Arts and the Decolonial Journey
    (2021-08) David, Kimberly
    My research seeks to expand the discourse around decolonization by further dismantling and complicating the homogenous narrative of women of color in the arts within the colonial legacy. This work aims to reinforce the self-determination of women of color in challenging cultural production and shifting it from the Eurocentric scope as well as the gender power structure constructed by colonialism. The project responds to not only decolonization within the art world but also the erasure of colonized women which then demands our narratives be heard as part of the process of decolonization. This project engages in radical self-reflection by learning from and collaborating with a group of female leaders of color and approaches narrative through a decolonial lens. At the core of this work are five one-hour conversations engaging five women of color art leaders – all at different points in their careers and from vastly different backgrounds. Accompanying the written portion of the capstone, are the video files of each interview. These conversations center their individual narratives, their relationship to the art world, and the role of decolonization within their practices and ways of thinking. Focusing on the journeys of these five women as well as my own, a narrative methodology is used here. However, the standard academic process is also challenged as it often reflects coloniality/modernity–being a process based in knowledge and resource extraction. Contrastingly, this work emphasizes reciprocity and self- determination. Finally, reflexivity plays an important role in reciprocating my own narrative, perspectives, and vulnerabilities.
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    BIPOC exclusion from Milwaukee's professional theatre organizations: An inquiry into systemic change
    (2021-08) Esposito, Amy
    Arts organizations in the nonprofit sector often seek to create social change in their communities as a response to art rather than exclusively creating art for its entertainment value. As the United States continues to tackle and address racial inequities, the arts sector is not only responsible for evolving with society, but also crafting and depicting narratives many organizations hope will help positively impact society. In this sense, they should be leaders. This inquiry into racial representation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s nonprofit theatre sector hopes to identify the unique qualities of the Milwaukee arts community, inclusive actions currently taking place, and areas for improvement. Using a grounded theory approach, interviews were conducted with local arts leaders and stakeholders. Based on the literature reviewed and data collected, these findings were used to assess initiatives currently in place and to formulate recommendations for addressing racial representation and creating meaningful organizational change.
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    Working at the Intersection of Faith, Art, and Justice: The Impact of Socially Engaged Art Practices on U.S. Christian Churches and their Communities
    (2021-07) Miller, Sarah L.
    This project documented socially engaged art practices of three U.S. Christian churches and the impacts of those practices on participants, the congregation as a whole, and the wider community. Socially engaged art seeks to create social change through direct intervention in the world, rather than through representational or symbolic means. As churches experiment with how to adapt to societal change, declining membership, and shifting ways of communicating and relating, socially engaged art can be a new mode of caring for their communities and supporting the spiritual growth of their members. The case study found that the congregations’ socially engaged art ministries have helped them adapt to their local context and connect with their neighbors in new ways. The study cites several promising practices and concludes that socially engaged art ministry is an emerging practice that will benefit from further study and deeper engagement with the field of contemporary socially engaged art.
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    Closing the Gap Between Education and Career: A Study of Arts Entrepreneurship Curricula
    (2018-05) Olson, Anna M
    Arts Entrepreneurship is a relatively new field that has been growing steadily the past thirty years. There is still much debate over a specific definition of Arts Entrepreneurship, however the purpose and goals of Arts Entrepreneurship and Arts Entrepreneurship Education are clear: to give artists the skills and abilities necessary to achieve a successful career as an artist. This paper examines seven different higher education institutions’ Arts Entrepreneurship programs in a grounded theory analysis to answer the question: What best practices are evident in current Arts Entrepreneurship curricula, and how can schools use this information to transform their existing (or develop a new) Arts Entrepreneurship program. This study reviewed the selected school’s program information, and collected and compared the requirements for Arts Entrepreneurship minors: required number of credits, field experience, program structure, and collaboration with other departments. These program requirements were coded to analyze the different course requirements and six different types of courses offered within the programs were discovered. The study then applied Roberts’ (2014) institutional models to further analyze the findings. Through this process, the study revealed that Arts Entrepreneurship minors offered at these schools fall into three levels: Level 1, Collaborative; Level 2, Infusing Entrepreneurship; Level 3, Context-Based Model. By identifying these three types of programs, schools can develop a program that best fits the needs of their students and potential students can choose the best program type for them.
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    Museums: Make / Matter
    (2018-05) Covey Spanier, Katie
    The primary aim of many American university art museums (also known as teaching or campus museums) is to create a space that is removed from the pressures of the commercial art world where students, artists, community members, curators, and faculty can join together to have direct experiences with art. These museums often operate as independent units within institutions of higher education and are thus granted the academic freedom to investigate controversial topics that would otherwise be avoided, ignored or censored. While research has illuminated that the core audience for American museums is primarily non-Hispanic whites, and that museum audiences are radically less diverse than the American public, today’s campus art museums serve both the largest and most demographically diverse student body in history. However, research is limited on university art museum participation or the extent to which teaching museum participation reflects and shapes trends across the field. Through 23 semi-structured interviews with university art museum educators, community engagement specialists, and curators from across the United States, the researcher investigates how academic museums attract and engage their diverse communities while also navigating and responding to the current social and political environment. The results of this study indicate that many academic art museums consider community participation a priority, yet internal structures are hierarchical and staffed by predominately white females. These traditional operating paradigms create both internal and external power dynamics that create barriers for community participation. The researcher posits that by adapting a human-centered ‘abundant community’ framework at all levels of the museum ecosystem, teaching museums have the power to systematically address disparities in museum participation and representation, harness their platforms for radical truth telling, and redirect the meanings, purposes and potentials of museums across the world.