Columbus Museum of Art: Three Social Enterprises Sustain Access to Creativity in our Community

The Schokko Art Café at the CMA — Photo by Lillian Dent.

Each month, the Center for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) publishes an article about a local social enterprise, showcasing its social impact within a specific focus area. May’s focus is social impact related to the arts. Below this article, please view a list of all local social enterprises committed to this focus area.

In 2007, Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) launched what would become a decade-long, $90 million endowment and capital campaign. Today CMA operates three social enterprises that provide ongoing support of its programs, exhibits and collections: Schokko Art Café, the Museum Store and hosting special events. With the launch of the new Margaret M. Walter Wing on October 25, 2015, the museum now has 50,000 additional square feet available for use, 21,000 of it dedicated to new exhibit space.

Nannette Maciejunes
Nannette Maciejunes

“Finding the right mix of revenue generation—we’re not there yet,” said Nannette Maciejunes, executive director, “But we’re well on our way (just six months in) to saying we have successfully achieved the three goals of the campaign and renovations, which were to achieve increased financial sustainability, enhance our ability to bring great exhibitions to Columbus, and to enhance public value.”

Case in point—the Picasso exhibit that is coming June 10 through September 11, 2016, which Maciejunes promised to the community.

The new wing has transformed CMA’s team internally by allowing them to explore who they wanted to be for the community as an organization. At the forefront of this discovery, the team asked: What does our community need from us? How can we make our collections more meaningful in peoples’ lives?

One outcome of this exploration was creating a visitor-centered, welcoming entryway that is full of light, and positioned near the Museum Store, Schokko Art Café, the elevator and front desk. With dedicated front-line staff to assist visitors as they enter, CMA has transformed the visitor experience.

Throughout the renovation process, CMA staff viewed event space as an opportunity for CMA to remain competitive, increase the visibility of collections to the community, and enhance the value the organization could offer the public. The new space was designed to accommodate a variety of event needs, formats and flows. People can rent spaces together or separately.

What was always thought of as an amenity for visitors, as opposed to a revenue-generator, Schokko Art Café opened five months ago along with the launch of the new wing. Within this short timeframe, it has become a lunchtime destination for people working nearby, and on Thursday nights when it is open late for dinner.

There were many critical moments throughout the decade-long campaign, and CMA’s board and staff all brought very different and important expertise to the table. Maciejunes remembers one board member saying, “Test yourself. Should you do this yourself? Or partner with a local restauranteur?”

CMA opted to partner with Cameron Mitchell Premier Events (also CMA’s caterer for events) to staff and manage Schokko Art Café. With the warmer weather and the doors opening up to the garden, it really is a destination all on its own.

For the Museum Store, CMA hired a consultant to determine square footage, layout and the right mix of items for sale that are popular with visitors. CMA continues to evolve its products and refine its offerings as exhibitions come and go, and as they continue to collect data from purchases.

“People can now connect with the museum in many new ways, not just through traditional donations or becoming a member,” said Maciejunes “When you eat at Schokko Art Café or hold your event at the Museum—these are very intentional acts and decisions people make in their daily lives. By doing these things, you are contributing to the community and to something (art) that individuals value. It also helps to know that there are small ways of giving back and a way of conducting our lives in such a way, where each action is for the betterment of others.”

As CMA continues to transition to a new era, the team will continue to explore how to make the most use of their new space, and how to continue to evolve as an organization. They will continue to maximize the opportunities in terms of providing public value and earned revenue that this new facility offers.

Learn more about planning your next visit and how you can support CMA.


Central Ohio’s social enterprises focused on the arts

The Center for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) maintains a directory of social enterprises throughout Central Ohio. We are in the process of developing at-a-glance profiles for each social enterprise, intended to inform consumers, funders, impact investors and individual donors of investment-worthy causes. Here are the social enterprises we’ve identified to date that focus on the arts. We encourage you to learn more, consider supporting these organizations, or inform us of additional social enterprises that share this focus.

– Art & Clay on Main [Profile]
BalletMet Dance Academy
Columbus Museum of Art
Glass Axis
Heirloom Café (at the Wexner Center for the Arts)

Photos by Lillian Dent for