Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology

First Advisor

Minjoo Oh

Second Advisor

Jodi Skipper

Third Advisor

Brian Foster


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Minority-led nonprofit organizations are marginalized in the United States arts sector, analyses of which rely heavily on data from dominant, often White-led institutional arts organizations. This study seeks to understand the experience of a minority-led arts organization in that context. I ask, what does artistic practice – both creative and organizational – look like for this organization? And what are the implications of that practice for the arts sector more broadly? Drawing on over a year of ethnographic work with The Network, a Black-led arts organization in a southern U.S. city, I argue that their asset-focused treatment of place, their value-centric approach to solving organizational problems, and their nuanced philosophy of art show significant differences from dominant sectoral paradigms. The organization consistently prioritizes audience connection and the needs of Black artists, and, in honoring those priorities, it rejects or remakes dominant art sector philosophies and approaches. That this rejection is necessary to establish and hold a space of Black creative freedom suggests a significant distance between dominant arts sector paradigms and the needs and experiences of non-dominant groups. I end this paper by reflecting on the need for ethnographic work in the nonprofit arts sector, calling on scholars and practitioners to undertake corrective work to center the voices, knowledges, and experiences of minority-led arts organizations and pointing to Hunter and Robinson’s (2018) Chocolate Cities as a valuable frame through which to do so.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.