Art at work : potential contributions of an art collection to non-profit organizations
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. As an inquiry about art and organizational culture, this thesis aims to investigate the value of a corporate art collection to mission-driven non-profit organizations. Corporate art collections are traditionally found in the lobbies and plush offices of Fortune 500 companies. Operating under the principle of enlightened self-interest, the investment in art yields three tangible benefits for these corporations--office d©♭cor, employee engagement, and public relations. Non-profit development organizations on the other hand, typically do not have room in their considerably leaner operations budgets to purchase original works of art, fund its maintenance, or sustain an art education program for its staff. For the few that do have collections, works are typically acquired through donations or are overflow pieces from large corporate collections. This study probes how the known benefits of having an art collection translates to non-profit organizations with limited budgets and a distinct mission to champion the underserved.; The art collection at the Academy for Educational Development (AED), a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of the world's poorest, is the basis for this inquiry. AED has a significant yet undocumented collection of modern art mostly donated by prominent collectors John and Kimiko Powers. The eclectic collection of more than 400 works includes paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by important artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Jim Dine as well as many lesser-known American artists working in the 1960's. It also includes many works by contemporary artists from Japan such as Shingo Kusuda, Shigeyoshi Iwata, and Masami Kodama.; A qualitative survey designed to measure staff knowledge, attitudes, and behavior is central to the research. The survey revealed that though the majority of respondents thought that the art collection was important to the organization's image and identity, they felt that the collection was irrelevant to both their work and to the overall company mission. This inquiry shows that the price of organizational ambivalence is high. It can result in the destruction of works, the demotion of art to decoration, alienation with the audience, staff dissent, and the missed opportunities for learning.; This thesis argues that art has the capacity to make profound contributions to staff development and to the organization's overall mission. Art can be used as a tool to cultivate creativity, innovation, tolerance, and diversity; it can vivify the organization's vision and values; and it can provide opportunities to connect with new partners as well as expand its donor and funder base. The research is capped by specific proposals to ameliorate the level of engagement with this largely underutilized and underappreciated asset.
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