Started in 1948, the 57th Street Art Fair is a Hyde Park institution. Over 200 exhibitors take over the area during the first weekend of every June. Keeping the Fair as fresh and exciting as it was in 1948 is a continual goal and this year six UChicago students were enlisted to bring a new perspective by serving as consultants. The partnership culminated in a presentation to the 57th Street Art Fair’s board of trustees in February and several of the student’s recommendations have already being incorporated into the marketing of this year’s event.
Last winter, two of Career Advancement’s pre-professional programs, UChicago Careers in Business (UCIB) and UChicago Careers in Journalism, Arts, and Media (UCIJAM), selected enthusiastic students to weigh in on solutions, in the style of a consulting project, to continue to improve the Fair. UCIJAM’s Sophia Chen (AB’16), UCIB’s Ruchi Mahadeshwar (AB’15), and Jon Lancaster (AB’15), kicked things off with a client meeting to discuss and truly understand relevant issues and areas for development at the 57th Street Art Fair. Using the information gathered at this meeting, the students drafted a professional Statement of Work (SOW) that outlined their project scope, services they could offer, and the deliverables and milestones for the project.
In October, the team added three new UCIB second-year students: Mayukh Sen, Ammar Kalimullah, and Raman Rajakannan. These fresh faces brought new excitement and perspectives to the team, performing primary and second research to support their hypothesis and ultimately to help form the final recommendations. This research process included attending the 2014 57th Street Art Fair, interviewing visitors and artists, talking with members of the board, conducting a case study of the Hyde Park Jazz Fest, and reaching out to other non-profit boards focused on art.
After collecting all of this research, the team formed their final recommendations – a 45 minute presentation and extensive Q&A session with the entire board of the 57th Street Art Fair. Measures from the presentation have already begun to be put in place, with the launch of a social media campaign highlighting the developments that the students recommended. Alexia Tyzna, Lead Coordinator for the Fair said that the board was, “very impressed with (the students’) work, thoughtfulness, and presentations.” The project also proved to be an excellent experience for students; Raman noted “I really enjoyed working on this project and working with the rest of the team.”