Think Tank: A Collaborative Approach to Student Learning, Organizational Assessment, and Community-Based Arts


  • Sonia BasSheva Manjon The Ohio State University
  • Wen Guo The Ohio State University


This article focuses on a creative collaboration that began in late 2013 between The Ohio State University's Lawrence and Isabel Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise Graduate Student Think Tank (TT) and Sweet Honey in the Rock (SHIR), the internationally acclaimed, female, African-American Grammy Award winning a cappella ensemble based in Washington DC. As the ensemble reaches 40 years of performing, producing, touring, and speaking out about social injustices, the TT worked collaboratively with the organization to assess their organizational and management structure with the intent to resolve critical issues facing the group. A focus of the collaboration was to develop and engage in an interactive approach for building an arts-specific entrepreneurial business model.

The TT is an interdisciplinary group of graduate students who work collaboratively on case studies to solve critical artist-defined issues and to develop new approaches to entrepreneurial management structures for artists and arts organizations. The processes of the TT forms a mutually beneficial system connecting the traditional case study model in higher education to the practice of business consulting for arts and cultural organizations.

The first part of the paper is intended to give an overview of community-based non-profit arts organizations in the United States originating in the 1960s, including a history of SHIR. The second part of the paper discusses the collaborative process of the case in progress and how the students participating in the TT facilitate transition and transformation for SHIR. 

Author Biographies

Sonia BasSheva Manjon, The Ohio State University

Dr. Sonia BasSheva Mañjon has more than 25 years of experience in higher education, nonprofit, and government administration. She is a LeaderSpring Alumna, class of 2006, who returned to the Bay Area from Columbus, Ohio to become the 2nd executive director of LeaderSpring. Her focus for the organization is to re-define product and service delivery, develop a business model for leadership development, leverage the alumni network, and introduce racial equity and social justice systems change work.
Prior to returning to California, Sonia was inaugural director of the Lawrence and Isabel Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise, Associate Professor of Arts Administration, Education and Policy, and Affiliate Faculty in Latinx Studies and The STEAM Factory at The Ohio State University. Dr. Mañjon mentored both undergraduate and graduate students whose interest led them to entrepreneurship, community collaborations, and civic engagement activities.
Dr. Mañjon began her academic career at the California College of the Arts as the executive director of the Center for Art and Public Life, founding chair of the Community Arts major, former chair of Diversity Studies, and the Simpson Endowed Professor of Community Arts. She created the Community Arts major, the first BFA program of its kind in the United States, the Center’s Visiting Artists and Scholars program, and raised over $8 million dollars for programs and initiatives.
Dr. Mañjon earned a PhD in Humanities, specializing in transformative learning and change in human systems and an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation from the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She received a Bachelor of Arts in World Arts and Cultures with an emphasis in Dance from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Mañjon lives in Antioch with her sons Zyan and Ezra.

Wen Guo, The Ohio State University

Wen Guo is a student in the Arts Administration, Education and Policy PhD program, specializing in Cultural Policy and Arts Management.  Wen graduated from Communication University of China with a bachelor's degree in Studio Broadcasting Journalism.  After working for an art gallery at 798 Contemporary Art District in Beijing, Wen came to the United States with a strong academic interest in cultural policy and arts administration.  Upon coming to the U.S., she received her master's degree in Arts Policy and Administration from The Ohio State University. 

Wen's research interests include empirical analysis on adoption and diffusion of cultural policy, policy/issue network of arts and culture-led urban revitalization, occupation and entrepreneurship in creative sectors through a mixed-methods approach, pedagogy and curriculum development in the field of arts administration and cultural policy, and cultural studies on Chinese contemporary art.

Think Tank




How to Cite

BasSheva Manjon, S., & Guo, W. (2015). Think Tank: A Collaborative Approach to Student Learning, Organizational Assessment, and Community-Based Arts. Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, 4(2), 77–95. Retrieved from