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