Harvard i-lab | Deans' CE Challenge Workshop: Experiences of Successful Cultural Entrepreneurs | Summary and Q&A

February 10, 2014
Harvard Innovation Labs
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Harvard i-lab | Deans' CE Challenge Workshop: Experiences of Successful Cultural Entrepreneurs


Madeleine from Zumix shares insights on cultural entrepreneurship, discussing topics such as serving the youth, the challenges of fundraising, and the impact of the arts on society.

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Key Insights

  • 🥰 Cultural entrepreneurship involves using art to create social impact and empower youth.
  • ⚖️ Balancing the nonprofit structure with the demands of fundraising can be challenging.
  • 🥰 Access to the arts is vital for young people, particularly in communities facing economic disparities.
  • 🥺 The philanthropic landscape is evolving, and family foundations are passing the baton to the next generation, leading to changes in funding priorities.
  • 💱 Economic and demographic changes in neighborhoods can affect the focus and growth of cultural organizations.
  • 🥅 Passion and clear articulation of goals are crucial for creating impactful proposals in cultural entrepreneurship.
  • 👾 East Boston's transformation highlights the importance of investing in infrastructure and public spaces to revitalize communities.


well welcome everyone i think you already those of you who are looking to submit a proposal to the challenge meet the requirement of being intrepid so fearless people walking through the snow to to come here so uh thank you for doing that uh thank you also madeline for coming in this uh in this weather to help us understand what is what cultural en... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Zumix handle its capital campaign and what were the key points emphasized in the fundraising?

Zumix's capital campaign aimed to buy and renovate a former firehouse into a space for youth to engage in music and arts. The key points emphasized were the demand for their programs, the need for stability in their neighborhood, and the importance of keeping the building accessible to the public.

Q: Has Zumix ever considered expanding to other cities?

While Zumix has considered expanding to other neighborhoods, they have chosen to focus on their current community in East Boston. This decision has allowed them to deepen their impact and build strong relationships within the neighborhood.

Q: How does Zumix balance serving the youth and promoting artists to find audiences?

Zumix primarily focuses on serving young people through music and arts programs. However, they also provide opportunities for their talented young musicians to perform at events and for their staff to engage in contract work with other organizations.

Q: How does Zumix address the issue of economic disparity in Boston?

Madeleine acknowledges the growing economic divide in the city, with more wealthy individuals moving in while immigrant populations struggle to afford living in the area. Zumix aims to provide services to youth from all backgrounds and address the changing needs of the community.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Madeleine started Zumix in 1991 as a summer project to address youth violence through music. It has since grown to serve over a thousand kids a year, utilizing art to give them a voice and engage them in their communities.

  • The organization has faced challenges in fundraising, including the need to articulate and demonstrate the impact of their work and the struggle to balance the nonprofit structure with the demands of running the organization.

  • Zumix focuses on both direct youth service and presenting arts events, with a goal of providing access and opportunities for young people to express themselves and be part of positive change.

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