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HBX Business Blog

The Healing Power of Art: Building A Non-Profit

Posted by Allie O'Hanley on July 28, 2015 at 4:57 PM

As a museum professional with an academic background in Art and Art History, I never focused much on business in school. My career in curation and exhibition design didn't require me to make many business decisions, so when I heard about HBX CORe last year, I applied with the vague thought that expanding my business knowledge might be useful in the future.

Well, the future came pretty quickly. Less than a year after completing CORe, I founded my own company, Rxhibition, a non-profit organization that curates, designs, and installs art exhibitions in chemotherapy treatment areas. Research has shown the positive effects that art and music have on the physical and psychological health of people undergoing chemotherapy, and we hope to encourage further research so that engaging healing environments become the new hospital norm. 

The Rxhibition team at our first pitch and planning session with the pilot host hospitalThe Rxhibition team at our first pitch and planning session with the pilot host hospital

The idea came suddenly, and within two months we were incorporated, pending tax-exempt status, finalizing a deal for our pilot exhibition with a major hospital, had secured two significant sponsorships, and had reached over 1,000 supporters in 62 countries!

There is no way I could have brought Rxhibition to this point without the skills I gained from CORe. From the start, Economics for Managers proved to be immensely helpful in forming the business plan. The range of sample scenarios that were woven into the curriculum provided a great foundation for key things to look out for when building a marketing strategy as well as ways to differentiate and perform a thorough competitor analysis.

The skills I gained in Financial Accounting and Business Analytics became more important once the organization was up and running. Because we are still a small organization, I am responsible for all of our accounting and budgeting. While the HBX program is centered on for-profit business, these skills are vital in non-profit management as well. While our financial statements look slightly different, the methods of entry and forecasting procedures covered in CORe have been essential as we plan our budgets both for our own operating purposes as well as for various grant applications.

ChromaStones, the tactile art component. Learn more on Rxhibition.orgChromaStones, the tactile art component. 

In my opinion, CORe delivered on its promise to provide a strong business foundation for those with a non-business background. Oftentimes, many people in highly specialized industries such as art, music, or even medicine don’t realize how critical this foundation is to their career aspirations.  CORe is ideal for someone like me who doesn't have the time nor the needs to warrant enrolling in an MBA program. We don’t need an in-depth study on all things business and economics, what we need are the basics. CORe provides a complete overview of the fundamentals which we can then apply to our own specialized industries.

After completing the program, I was able to confidently compose a sound business plan and present our strategy to many constituents including sponsors, hospitals, and grantmakers. This was a large factor in our success so far, as each constituent became confident in my ability to manage the company. CORe played a direct role in this by offering me the necessary tools to present, converse, and field questions about the specifics of my organization. I am now working full time as the director of Rxhibition and have built a team that possesses the distinctive skills necessary for this unique endeavor. 

Photo by Rxhibition artist KEOHPhoto by Rxhibition artist KEOH

We are working with donated artworks from independent artists, musicians, and composers from around the world, many of whom are creating pieces specifically for our exhibitions. In addition to benefiting the hospital community, our unique constituency allows Rxhibition to serve as a platform to donor artists looking to reach new audiences and broaden their following.

To learn more about the organization, visit Rxhibition.org.

Topics: HBX CORe, Student Bloggers