Toilet Paper, M&M’s and Our First Class

Welcome to our blog and my first post of the semester! My name is Ashley and I’m a second year Theatre for Youth MFA student at ASU. As a TFY student (or really as any MFA student), I’ve found there are so many avenues to explore: teaching, mentoring, writing, performing, producing, directing. I’m pursuing many of them, but most of all, I am interested in creating something new: innovative community projects, original plays, exciting programs for youth. This interest in how to create something original and innovative lead me to enroll in THP: 552 Arts Entrepreneurship. Most of the articles we’ve read over the last two weeks have been extremely out of my familiarity zone (or my circular flow of equilibrium, heyyy Schumpeter?) but they have lead me to realize one very important thing about arts entrepreneurship: it begins with a vision. How one arrives at that vision, how one facilitates the fruition of that vision and what one gains from that vision seem to be where the debate occurs. However, the vision for innovation is most important. Of course, anyone can have a great idea. I feel like I have SO MANY great ideas right as I am drifting off to sleep, but solely having ideas does not an entrepreneur make. On Barry’s Blog, Andrew Taylor says, “Innovation is more than a great idea, it’s the application of that idea to bring real value to people.”[1] I am looking forward to exploring the “hows” in the application process this semester.

As an artist with a background in performance, I especially connect with how Linda Essig defines arts entrepreneurship. She says it is, “the application of entrepreneurial action in the service of art,” and urges entrepreneurs to keep art at the center of business ventures. Other posts on Barry’s Blog also emphasize the need for passion, confidence and guts,[2] which are things I simultaneously think I need more of, but already possess as well.

At the end of our first class last Wednesday, Linda passed around a roll of toilet paper with instructions to, “take as much as you need for the rest of the day.” A bit apprehensively, we all did so. Then, she passed around a bowl of M&M’s, giving us the same directions. Everyone took noticeably less candy than toilet paper. Clearly, the five of us weren’t too wild about chocolate, but it was an experiment in the utilitarian versus the hedonic, or our needs versus our wants. Sometimes, the very basic things we need to survive are free, like water (usually). Many times, we are willing to spend way more money on items that we want, especially if they are scarce. Nowadays, Broadway tickets are $100-$120 per seat, partly due to the consumer’s belief that they are seeing the best theatre New York, maybe even the world, has to offer. There’s only one Broadway, so those ticket prices are worth it, right?

This semester, I’m excited to collaborate with my classmates to create a business of some kind and after the toilet paper/M&M experiment, I’m especially looking forward to trying to create something that is both utilitarian and hedonic. Is that possible? I look forward to letting you know!


[1] Taylor, Andrew. (2014, May 29). Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon-Day 5. Retrieved from

[2] Essig, Linda. (2014, May 25) Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon-Day 1. Retrieved from


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About Ashley Laverty

Ashley is an M.F.A candidate in the Theatre for Youth program at Arizona State University. She received her B.A in Musical Theatre from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. As an actress, Ashley has performed nationally for young audiences with the National Theatre for Children, VEE Corporation, Roxy Regional Theatre, Vital Theatre Company, and Storyland, a family amusement park. In Arizona, she teaches Musical Theatre and Acting classes and camps for children ages 3-16 at Childsplay, VOICES Studio and Homestead Playhouse. Ashley is interested in playwriting for a young audience, theatre for the very young and museum theatre. She works with the AZ Science Center and the i.d.e.a. museum.

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