Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellow Priya Krishnamoorthy works to support the entrepreneurial ecosystems for arts and creative workers in India to drive sustainable development.
Priya Krishnamoorthy has over 14 years of experience spanning diverse areas in the creative industries, including journalism, broadcasting, the arts and social enterprises. As an arts manager, she is committed to creating value by driving ideas rooted in innovation, sustainability, social impact and education. These interests have been further honed by the Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowship at Boston University’s arts administration program.
Excerpts from an interview with Krishnamoorthy about her experience of the Fulbright-Nehru program and her work in India.
Could you please elaborate a little on the field of arts management?
The arts have a unique quality that cannot be framed and quantified the same way as other disciplines. Their value in our lives cannot be measured the same way as, say, a bar of soap or an Uber ride. Therefore, its management is also different. It draws from diverse disciplines like business, education, community building and social impact to offer relevant tools for management, fundraising, marketing, etc., which can help build bridges between the arts, artists, patrons and audiences. You could call it an MBA for the arts. You don’t have to be an artist to become an arts manager, but it’s important that you are deeply passionate about the arts.
Why did you decide to specialize in arts management?
As an arts manager, I felt ill-equipped to contextualize and understand the gaps in the arts and culture ecosystems that I was experiencing in India. I wanted to explore the same within the rigors of academia. I was managing a social enterprise that worked with artisans in India when I applied for the Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowship. One of my primary goals was to acquire the relevant tools that would help me lead and support entrepreneurial ecosystems in India for arts and creative workers. The coursework introduced me to skills in fundraising for nonprofits, financial management as well as research and evaluation. It also helped me acquire a strong theoretical footing in the language of social and cultural entrepreneurship. I am currently in my post-degree academic training period with the partnerships team at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] Solve, a global marketplace for social impact ideas.
In what ways is the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship an extension of your interest?
It has been extremely exciting to be a part of the Fulbright community. I have connected with and learned from scholars and students from across the world. At Boston University, I realized the challenges facing the arts in the United States might appear different, but are quite similar to what we face in South Asia. World over, one of the greatest challenges facing the field today is the lack of innovative business models as well as resources—financial and human. The key need, in India and the United States, is to find new ways to understand and articulate value for the arts and culture. My time in the United States greatly helped me value many worldviews as well as the systems that are already in place in India.
I consciously sought out interdisciplinary experiences during my time in Boston. My internship at Boston University’s Summer Accelerator Program introduced me to business incubation and mentorship systems required for supporting social and creative enterprises. This further helped me initiate and lead the first-ever on-campus event for the Hult Prize, a global challenge that aims to mobilize student changemakers to rethink the future of business and innovation. Because of my interest in sustainability models, I ended up conceptualizing and leading a three-day event, called the Green Your Wardrobe weekend, as part of the annual Fashion Revolution Week in April 2018. I also acted as the coordinator for the Global Bazaar, a curated showcase of artisan goods from immigrant communities, organized as part of the Global Music Festival 2018.
How do you plan to use this experience back in India?
My time in Boston has made me realize that world over, the creative and cultural industries continue to remain an untapped start-up economy. India can take the lead in supporting a new generation of creative and cultural entrepreneurs to not only create jobs, but also drive sustainable development. My current training at MIT Solve offers an incredible opportunity to learn the ropes of creating transformational partnerships. I have already initiated my goal to facilitate conversations and build lasting networks with a world-renowned institution committed to innovation.
Ranjita Biswas is a Kolkata-based journalist. She also translates fiction and writes short stories.