Fitchburg State, Fitchburg Art Museum collaboration pays dividends
By Sean Mullen ’19
A robust partnership between the Communications Media Department at Fitchburg State University and the Fitchburg Art Museum is paying dividends for both institutions, creating real-world opportunities for students and producing professional grade marketing collateral for the museum.
The partnership began informally and was codified under a memorandum of agreement signed by leaders of the two institutions three years ago. Since then, Communications Media students have been working closely with museum staff to develop marketing and exhibition materials. From social media campaigns to public relations outreach highlighting individual exhibits to comprehensive rebranding efforts, the students function as consultants in the service of a demanding client – namely, the museum’s staff. And that’s why the experience has proven so valuable.
“Working with the museum has definitely been a rollercoaster experience,” said Fitchburg State student Amarah Williams ’18. “It hasn’t always been easy and at times I wanted to walk away. However, all the tough love and experience from FAM has been personally beneficial. Aside from the main objectives of the class, I learned time management and the importance of drafting, which are skills I will use throughout my professional career.”
“The partnership between FAM and FSU has given students an extremely unique opportunity to get real-world experience in their field of study,” said student Kyle Prudhomme ’17. “Delegating projects to us instead of large firms gives us the chance to learn and grow as professionals.”
The collaboration is overseen by Professor Robert Carr, whose students on the FAM project produce collateral in lieu of traditional exams. Carr said the relationship is “creating extraordinary opportunities for students to create advanced works within a program that transcends coursework.”
Museum staff including Director Nick Capasso, Curator Mary Tinti, interim Curator Lisa Crossman, and Marketing Manager Kledia Spiro are also key to the success of the program, bringing high expectations and open minds to the collaboration. Students work in teams to develop content after briefings by FAM staff that begin on the first day of the semester. From writing feature articles and marketing materials to generating social media posts, website platforms, podcasts and photography, the work spans disciplines and specialties.
While some of the material produced by the students isn’t adopted by the museum, its leaders benefit from reviewing a wide range of marketing proposals and social media content. In fall 2016, for example, the students produced a comprehensive rebranding plan for the museum that was presented for consideration to the museum’s board of trustees, including President Lapidus.
For the students, the museum’s willingness to entrust them with vital marketing and promotional functions is a powerful endorsement of their potential, and indicates the collaboration between the two institutions has a bright future.