Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


A number of community colleges have committed significant resources to presenting arts and cultural programming for their communities. These community college based arts organizations face many of the same challenges as other non-profit arts organizations and arts centers located on traditional four-year campuses. However, present research and data considers all centers to be similar and does not take into consideration the unique qualities of community colleges. The purpose of this research study is to first define community college arts presenting and then to identify and explain the challenges facing these arts organizations.

The first stage of the mixed method study incorporated quantitative surveys of 28 community colleges; the purpose of using the quantitative surveys was to collect programmatic, operational, and financial data on the organizations. The second stage of the study was qualitative and included a panel of community college arts leaders who was assembled with the purpose of gathering information that could be used to identify and address the challenges they face at their arts centers. The study utilized the Delphi Method, a qualitative knowledgebuilding tool that collects, synthesizes and refines data. The Delphi was modified to utilize a survey, an online list serve and conference calls in three rounds of data collection.

Two a priori themes emerged from the analysis of data. First, all arts organizations work very hard to develop and engage audiences in a service of mission and to generate operating revenue. Engaging the community college student and working with faculty as partners is a challenge which is unique to these organizations. A second prevalent theme was the challenge of managing finances of a community college arts center. The funding structure, of these organizations, relies heavily on contributed income from the host college and from revenue generated from ticket sales. Both funding sources have their own issues of stability and sustainability.

The study recommends that community college arts presenting organizations continue their work of engaging new and traditional arts audiences. Furthermore the study recommends that these organizations develop new models to achieve these goals. New measures, to assess value and impact of the work, should be developed in order to better connect with communities and acquire support from campus and community. Finally, centers should diversify their funding sources by working with the college and community in order to gain an understanding of alternate funding opportunities which can help secure the future of the arts.