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Neville Vakharia
Neville Vakharia, PhD
Associate Dean for Research and Planning; Associate Professor, Arts Administration & Museum Leadership



URBN Center, 210B

Neville Vakharia is the Associate Dean for Research and Planning in the Westphal College and an Associate Professor in the graduate Arts Administration & Museum Leadership program. Neville leads the College's efforts to increase the scope, reach, and impact of its research enterprise while also leading the development and implementation of its five-year strategic plan. He teaches leadership, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, and related subjects while undertaking research and development projects that seek to strengthen the arts, cultural, and creative sectors. His research centers on the role that technology, innovation, and knowledge play in building sustainable, resilient, and relevant organizations and communities. His work has been funded by government agencies and foundations, published internationally, and he has developed new tools and resources to benefit the cultural and social sectors. Neville is a frequent speaker, facilitator, and panelist at conferences and events worldwide. 


Prior to Drexel, Neville was the director of the Cultural Data Project at The Pew Charitable Trusts (now SMU DataArts), a growing national initiative created to improve the management and financial capacity of arts and cultural organizations, inform grant-making strategies, and serve as a powerful tool for policy research and analysis. At Pew, he oversaw the program’s strategic direction, operations, and national expansion from a start-up enterprise to multi-million dollar organization.


Prior to Pew, Neville was Director of Technology Services and Programs for the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, where he developed and launched the Technology Connectors, a program designed to support the technological capabilities of the region’s arts and cultural organizations through education, strategic planning, and consulting. He served as Director of Marketing for the Prince Music Theater, overseeing all audience development and branding strategies, and for 12 years he was the founder and co-producer of the ArtsFest Film Festival, central Pennsylvania's largest film festival.


Neville also has more than 10 years of experience in the corporate sector, working in new product development, marketing and global product management for W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., manufacturer of GORE-TEX products. Neville holds two international patents and has developed several new products and technologies. He earned his bachelor of science degree in materials engineering, his master of science in arts administration, and his Ph.D. in information science from Drexel University. He serves on the board of directors of Social Impact Commons, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and on the editorial board of Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts. Neville also serves as an advisor to many creative, start-up, and social enterprises and community-based organizations. 


BS, Materials Engineering, Drexel University
MS, Arts Administration, Drexel University
PhD, Information Science, Drexel University

Jung, Y., Vakharia, N., & Vecco, M. (Eds.). (2024). The Oxford Handbook of Arts& Cultural Management. Oxford University Press.

Vakharia, N. (2024). Knowledge Management in Arts and Cultural Organizations: A Conceptual Framework for Organizational Performance. In Y. Jung, N. Vakharia, & M. Vecco (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Arts & Cultural Management., Oxford university Press.

Vakharia, N. & Poole, A.H. (2023). Knowledge management in museums: enhancing organizational performance and public value. Journal of Documentation, 79(5).

Vakharia, N., & Poole, A.H. (2023). Enabling Knowledge Management Practices in Museums: The benefits of and Barriers to Achieving Public Value. In: Sserwanga, I., et al. Information for a Better World: Normality, Virtuality, Physicality, Inclusivity. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13972. Springer.

Rosentstein, C., Kim, M., & Vakharia, N. (2023). Living Cultural Heritage and the Traditional and Folk Arts in the Nonprofit Sector: Data on Scope, Finances, and Funding. Journal of American Folklore, 136 (542).

Rosentstein, C., Kim, M., & Vakharia, N. (2023). Inequities Built into the Arts and Cultural Data Infrastructure and Avenues of Redress: Insights from Two Recent Studies. In: J. Woronkowicz & D. Noonan (Eds.), Institutions and Inequities in the Arts. Palgrave McMillan, in press. 

Jung, Y., & Vakharia, N., (2019). Open Systems Theory for Arts and Cultural Organizations: Linking Structure and Performance, The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 49(4).

Vakharia, N., Vecco, M., Srakar, A., & Janardhan, D. (2018). Knowledge centricity and organizational performance: An empirical study of the performing arts. Journal of Knowledge Management, 22(5), 1124-1152 

Vakharia, N., (2017). Mapping the museum universe: A systems approach. In Y. Jung and A. Love (Eds.), Systems Thinking in Museums: Theory and Practice, Summit, PA: Rowman & Littlefield.

Vakharia, N., & Janardhan, D. (2017). Knowledge-centric arts organizations: Connecting practice to performance. International Journal of Arts Management, 19(2), 14-31.

Hawkins, J. G., Vakharia, N., Zitcer, A., & Brody, J. (2017). Positioning for the future: Curriculum revision in a legacy arts administration program. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 47(1), 64-76.

Zitcer, A., Hawkins, J., & Vakharia, N. (2017, February 22) The Arts as fundamental—and fragile—in community life”, Metropolitics, URL:

Vakharia, N., Vecco, M., Srakar, A., & Janardhan, D. (2016). Knowledge-centric arts organizations and financial performance: An empirical study. Proceedings of the European Group for Organization Studies, Naples, Italy.

Vakharia, N. (2016). Perspectives on arts entrepreneurship: Knowledge centricity and the artist entrepreneur.” Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, 5(2), 3-6.

Vakharia, N., Vecco, M., Srakar, A., & Janardhan, D. (2016). Knowledge-centric practices of performing arts organizations: New directions for organizational resilience.” Association for Cultural Economics International, Working Paper AWP-7-2016.

Vakharia, N. & DiLossi, K. (2016). Creating space: Performing artists in sacred spaces. GIA Reader, 27(2), 35-40.

Zitcer, A., Hawkins, J., & Vakharia, N. (2016). A capabilities approach to arts and culture? Theorizing community development in West Philadelphia. Planning Theory & Practice, 17(1), 35-51.

(Nominated for AESOP Best Published Paper Prize)

Vakharia, N. & Janardhan, D. (2015). The knowledge-centric arts organization: Connecting practice to performance.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Arts & Cultural Management, Aix-en-Provence, France.

(Named top-three strategic management paper by scientific committee)

Vakharia, N. (2015)*. [Review of the book Performing policy: how Contemporary Politics and Cultural Programs Redefined U.S. Artists for the 21st Century by P. Bonin-Rodriguez]. Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, 4(1), 49-52.

Vakharia, N. & Janardhan, D. (2014). Towards a knowledge-centric arts organization. American Journal of Arts Management. 1(4).

Vakharia, N. (2013). The knowledge-centric arts organization: A critical role for grantmakers. GIA Reader, 24(3), 5-9.

Vakharia, N. & Janardhan, D. (2013). The knowledge-centric arts organization: Practices, processes, and the path forward.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Arts & Cultural Management, Bogotá, Columbia: 686-697.


At its core, my research and scholarship focuses on two specific concepts that are critical elements of building and sustaining a resilient, adaptive, and vibrant arts, cultural and creative sector:

The role of data, information, and knowledge management as a means to create institutional and sector-wide knowledge through improved performance and outcomes. 

• The role of innovation and entrepreneurial approaches in the development of new enterprises, programs, business models, and funding/philanthropic structures.

My research ultimately seeks to understand and address the critical components that are necessary to build stronger organizations and a stronger sector. As someone who has spent significant time in leadership positions within the sector, I firmly believe that research in our field must be broadly applicable and contain an element of praxis. Our field needs research that can be used to inform leading thinkers and practitioners while also building a formal body of scholarship.

The formal study of arts administration is relatively new when compared to other long-standing fields of study and research. Thus, the best research and scholarship for our field is that which can provide relevant insights that are broadly applicable. I believe my research and scholarship is adding valuable knowledge to the field and is leveraging my expertise, skills, and interests. In all of my research and scholarship efforts, I seek to achieve my ultimate objective of adding significant value to the field while continuing to grow my role as a well-respected representative of my institution.

My research activities are relevant and necessary at this critical time when the arts, cultural, and creative sector is facing significant, structural challenges. These challenges have created a need for new organizational practices and a new type of leadership. Rapid advances in technology, changing demographics, and competition for limited resources are requiring the sector to evolve and adapt in order to exist in our fast-paced, knowledge-driven society. Many long-standing models and approaches are no longer applicable, and as such, research plays a critical role in supporting the advancement of the field. My role as a scholar is to continue to lead our field through my growing body of research that is advancing knowledge and building tomorrow’s organizations and leaders.

The types of research and scholarship I have undertaken to date all align with my research agenda described above. I have been able to lead a wide range of research projects that address both institutional and sector-wide issues in our field. My research methods combine both quantitative, data-driven methods and qualitative, ethnographic methods. In our field, these mixed-methods approaches are most successful in understanding the full scope of the issues I am investigating.

Funded Research Projects:

Sustainable Earned Revenue Strategies for Small and Mid-Sized Cultural Organizations 

Funding Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS, via SAADA) 

August 2023 – August 2026 

Assessing the Impact of Archival Representation on Arts Communities of Color (Co-PI) 

Funding Source: Wallace Foundation (via South Asian American Digital Archive) 

January 2023-January 2025 Planning and Development (Co-Pl)

Funding Source: Mellon Foundation (via Brandywine Workshop & Archives)

June 2021 - June 2023


"Making History at 250" Census of Humanities Project (Collaborator)

Funding Source: National Endowment for the Humanities

June 2020 - September 2021


The Future of Historic House Museums (Co-PI)

Funding Source: Drexel Areas of Research Excellence (DARE)

June 2019 - June 2020


Strategic Change and Sensemaking in the Performing Arts (Co-PI)

Funding Source: Drexel Faculty Research Grant

March 2018 – June 2019


Nonprofit Ecosystem Analysis and Visualization (PI)

Funding Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sponsored by Stanford University

January 2017 - March 2018


Museums Count Research and Project Development (PI)

Funding Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services (a federal agency)

April 2014 – June 2016


Organizational Practices and Performance of Knowledge-Centric Arts Organizations (PI)

Funding Source: Westphal Faculty Grant

July 2014 – September 2015


Creation of a Scalable, National Model for Performing Artists’ Use of Historic Sacred Spaces (PI)

Funding Source: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, sponsored by Partners for Sacred Places

October 2014 – January 2016


Knowledge-Centric Arts Organizations and Financial Performance (PI)

Funding Source: Westphal Faculty Grant and International Travel Award

September 2015 – July 2016


The Role of Arts & Culture in Underserved Communities (Co-PI)

Funding Source: Drexel University Office of Research and the Office of University and Community Partnerships

May 2013 – June 2014


Development of Online Arts and Cultural Knowledgebase (PI)

Funding Source: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, fiscally sponsored for WolfBrown through National Arts Strategies

August 2013 – March 2014













Research-Based Tools Created by Professor Vakharia:

Map Vakharia 

Interactive Visualization of 21,588 History Organizations in the U.S.

As part of a grant-funded project with the American Association of State & Local History, I created an interactive map as part of creating a national census of these organizations. The web-based mapping tool identifies the locations and density of these organizations, serving as a tool for research and advocacy. The tool can be found at:

Impact view philadelphia Neville Vakharia Creative work

ImpactView Philadelphia (

ImpactView Philadelphia is a powerful online resource to support a better understanding of Philadelphia’s nonprofit ecosystem. ImpactView Philadelphia helps nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, and community leaders identify needs and opportunities, explore areas of collaboration, and develop programs and services based on measures of community health. ImpactView Philadelphia visualizes important data on nonprofit organizations combined with individual and household data in an intuitive and user-friendly format.

This tool was created as part of the Nonprofit Ecosystem Analysis and Visualization research, funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sponsored by Stanford University.

Museum Stat Neville Vakharia creative work

MuseumStat (

MuseumStat is a robust online resource to support museums, communities, and researchers in gaining insights into the reach of museums and the communities they serve. MuseumStat contains information on about 30,000 organizations in the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museum Universe Data File (MUDF). The museum data are combined with community metrics on every census tract in the United States. MuseumStat is built on a geographical information system (GIS) platform that is designed to be intuitive and useful to a wide range of users and will continue to grow in its scope of features and information.

This tool was created as part of the Museums Count Research and Development, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.