Beauvais, Laura [faculty advisor, College of Business Administration]
business plan; arts management; youth arts
When I talk with people about myself and what I study here at The University of Rhode Island, most people look at me with a confused yet intrigued face. For many people my study of both Marketing and Philosophy is a strange dichotomy, for me; however, it is the perfect combination. When I infuse these fields of study with my passion for the arts, it was easy to see the path for my Senior Honors project. In doing this project I am combining my practical business skills, my need to make a difference and my interest in the arts to work closely with an arts organization on its business structure and strategy. In my own experience of collaboratively starting a non-profit art organization, I saw that organizational success depends upon a clear strategy and action plan. I have also seen the need for such strategic focus in museums and other cultural organizations with which I have worked. Continually observing the need for organizational structure, strategic management and focused marketing within these organizations, I have found a business sector in which my practical business skills are not only necessary but lacking. Seeing this gap I chose to work with Project Venue, an arts organization dedicated to finding a permanent venue within South Kingstown, Rhode Island that would serve as a youth arts center. Project Venue is not a typical non-profit organization. The year-old South Kingstown based non-profit organization is compromised solely of South Kingstown High School students. A group of approximately ten students started the organization for a number of reasons, but mostly because their community lacks a youth center, an alternative to athletics and any youth arts organization. Seeing this lack they have taken on the challenge of providing such a youth arts community through their mission: “Project Venue seeks to open up a permanent venue in the town of South Kingstown, Rhode Island, in which youth can thrive in an artistic environment”. In the past two years that the group has worked together they have been incredibly successful at hosting events, such as concerts, art shows and open mic nights, in other community spaces. Despite their successful programming and their development of community, the group has failed to focus on the future of the organization, its sustainability, strategy and long term objectives. Although such lack of focus might be acceptable for some young organizations, Project Venue is a youth run organization and half of the group will graduate this June from South Kingstown High School. With such a transient organization it is crucial that Project Venue focus on its organizational structure and strategy immediately. My role within Project Venue is two-fold. During our weekly meetings I work as a consultant, understanding the group’s objectives and organization on a strategic level in order to produce a business plan for the organization. This plan provides specific models, outlines, and plans for their strategic growth and development. My other role within the group is advising and assisting them in putting these models and plans into action. It is the goal of my project that the coupling of strategic planning and acting upon those plans will propel Project Venue’s growth as an organization.