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An Interview Profile summarizes this individual’s role, specialization, and contributions to MD Anderson.
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Two sessions: 19 January 2016, 8 February 2016.
Total approximate duration:
Interviewer: Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D.
To supporting materials, please contact:
Javier Garza, MSIS, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Interview Subject:
Artist and product designer, Angela Cheves (b. January 1962, Houston, Texas) came to MD Anderson in 1986 to work as a Special Projects Coordinator with the Children’s Art Project [CAP]. She continued with CAP and, when she retired in 2015, she was serving as Associate Director of Marketing. Ms. Cheves was responsible for expanding and marketing the line of products based on artwork by pediatric cancer patients at MD Anderson: she had a hand in developing over 2500 products.
Major Topics Covered:
Personal background and education
The development of product lines associated with the Children’s Art Project
Art and design skills used in development of CAP products
Unique characteristics of CAP vis a vis other health care institution art projects
CAP as an autonomous, entrepreneurial venture within MD Anderson
The development of retail partnerships to market CAP products
Development of marketing strategies
Administrative restructuring and transformation of CAP over its history
Regarding the Transcript and Audio Files
In accordance with oral history best practices, this transcript was intentionally created to preserve the conversational language of the interview sessions. (Language has not been edited to conform to written prose).
The interview subject was given the opportunity to review the transcript. Any requested editorial changes are indicated in brackets [ ], and the audio file has not correspondingly altered.
Redactions to the transcript and audio files may have been made in response to the interview subject’s request or to eliminate personal health information in compliance with HIPAA.
The views expressed in this interview are solely the perspective of the interview subject. They are not to be interpreted as the official view of any other individual or of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Interview Session One:
An Early Decision to be an Artist and Education in Art
Chapter 01 / A: Educational Path
Joining the Creative and Energetic Team at the Children’s Art Project
Chapter 02 / A: Joining MD Anderson/Coming to Texas
The Children’s Art Project: Art Classes and Memories of Patients
Chapter 03 / B: An Institutional Unit
Working as a Special Projects Coordinator and a Dramatic First Day at Work
Chapter 04 / A: The Administrator
The Children’s Art Project: An Autonomous Entrepreneurial Program within MD Anderson
Chapter 05 / B: An Institutional Unit
The Children’s Art Project: A Unique and Successful Business Operation
Chapter 06 / B: An Institutional Unit
The Children’s Art Project: Expanding the Business Operation
Chapter 07 / B: Building the Institution
Expanding the Children’s Art Project as a Commercial and Fundraising Venture
Chapter 08 / A: The Administrator
Interview Session Two:
Marketing the Children’s Art Project: Strategies and Challenges
Chapter 09 / B: The Finances and Business of MD Anderson
Significant People in the Children’s Art Project
Chapter 10 / B: An Institutional Unit
Children’s Art Project Funds and Projects Supported, and Changes in CAP Management
Chapter 11 / B: Institutional Change
Chapter redacted until 2019
The Children’s Art Project: A Great Work Environment with Great Volunteers
Chapter 13 / B: An Institutional Unit
How Children’s Art Project Funds are Allocated
Chapter 14 / B: An Institutional Unit
A Satisfying Career Working with the Children’s Art Project: a Creative “Company” within MD
Chapter 15 / A: View on Career and Accomplishments;
Interview Session One: 19 January 2016 (listen/read)
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Chapter 01 (A: Educational Path)
An Early Decision to be an Artist and Education in Art (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves describes her family background, noting that her parents were very artistic people who had a great influence on her. Ms. Cheves knew she would be an artist by the time she was in third grade and had begun to paint in watercolors by the time she was 14. She also was involved in her father’s stationary business and learned about printing and customer service. She discusses her selection of a college major and her path to an art major at the University of Texas at Austin (B.A. in Art, 1985).
Chapter 02 (Joining MD Anderson/Coming to Texas)
Joining the Creative and Energetic Team at the Children’s Art Project (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves talks about her job search after graduating from college, her work for the family stationary business, Wheatnotes, and the artwork she was doing that resulted in her first show. Next she describes how Karen Harrison [Oral History Interview], who worked with the Children’s Art Project, offered her an opportunity to work at MD Anderson: her job began on 2 September 1986. She talks about the experience she brought to her role as Special Projects Coordinator (1986-1990).
Next she describes the energetic and creative atmosphere at the Children’s Art Project. She then talks about the “third growing up phase” that young people undergo during their first jobs. She states that she enjoys mentoring young people now.
Chapter 03 (An Institutional Unit)
The Children’s Art Project: Art Classes and Memories of Patients (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves first talks about why pediatric cancer patients differ from adults and offers [HIPAA-mentions some patients’ names] memories of patients, one of whom greatly influenced how she taught art to children. She talks about the challenges of supporting children in creating artwork: specifically, how to offer advice and critique without unduly influencing and “taking over” the child’s work.
Next Ms. Cheves talks about the art classes offered to children, noting they were taught by art teachers from Houston art institutions.
[The recorder is paused.]
She notes that the Project team “made a big deal” of the children whose work was selected for the Children’s Art Project. She talks about the impact on the children of being selected.
Chapter 04 (The Administrator)
Working as a Special Projects Coordinator and a Dramatic First Day at Work (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves recalls her first day of work, which involved planning the “kick-off day” for the 1986 holiday season. She explains that this was designed as a public media event and involved parades. She talks about her contributions to this event, including making “walking cards” for the parade.
Next, Ms. Cheves talks about other events she helped plan, stressing how the Project creatively engaged people’s skills to put on events.
Chapter 05 (An Institutional Unit)
The Children’s Art Project: An Autonomous Entrepreneurial Program within MD Anderson (listen/read)
Ms Cheves describes the unique qualities of the Children’s Art Project, which operated as an autonomous entrepreneurial venture within MD Anderson (though it reported to larger business oversight). Next she talks about how artwork was selected to be turned into holiday cards and also describes details of the process of turning the children’s work into card art. She talks about how the cards were marketed and explains that the holiday cards were very successful because they were a “soft sell” of the institution.
Next Ms. Cheves notes that other institutions called for information on how to set up similar programs and how the CAP responded.
Chapter 06 (An Institutional Unit)
The Children’s Art Project: A Unique and Successful Business Operation (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves explains why MD Anderson’s program was so successful and unique. She explains the process of refining the selected art to have good visual impact on the holiday cards and the importance of paying their production vendors what they were worth. She also cites the impact of Randall’s Food Markets, where the cards were first offered in a public venueNext, Ms. Cheves talks about the types of cards that were commercially successful and that determined their offerings each year to individual and business customers.
Chapter 07 (Building the Institution)
The Children’s Art Project: Expanding the Business Operation (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves begins by talking about changes to the Children’s Art Project when Tyrell Flawn took over from Page Lawson as Director of Volunteer Services. He brought more of a business orientation and hired a retail consultant to help build connections with grocery stores. She explains that the Project had good penetration in Texas and then embarked on making connections with MD Anderson affiliates outside of the state. She notes that Central Freight delivered the fixtures to display the holiday cards at no charge, as a donation to MD Anderson.
Chapter 08 (The Administrator)
Expanding the Children’s Art Project as a Commercial and Fundraising Venture (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves begins by explaining how her activities expanded when she shifted from Program Coordinator (1990-1994) to Manager of Marketing Services (1994-2010). She notes that she became more focused on developing the product line and took more leadership in the Project. She lists the marketing lessons she learned in this process.
She talks about the decision, unusual at the time among healthcare institutions, to depict children as healthy.
She talks about the power of the cards: they make individuals feel that they make a difference in cancer treatment and research each time they are purchased.
Next Ms. Cheves talks about the improvements she was able to make in cost effectiveness and production. She tells the story of working with the Christopher Radko company starting in 2003 to produce Christmas ornaments based on children’s art work. She talks about the artistic and business challenges of this collaboration, including the legal agreements required. She summarizes the financial advantages, the lessons learned, and the reasons the ornaments were considered a success.
Next Ms. Cheves talks about how the Project’s product line was expanded. She then spends time talking about the trunk shows designed to market the cards and these new products. She explains that the Board of Visitors and the Development Department identified good hostesses to put on these events in Houston and in other cities. She talks about the impact of these events.
Interview Session Two: 8 February 2016 (listen/read)
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Chapter 09 (The Finances and Business of MD Anderson)
Marketing the Children’s Art Project: Strategies and Challenges (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves continues her discussion (from Session One) of the public relations and marketing side of the Children’s Art Project. She begins by describing how and why the “kick off” event for the holiday card sales evolved from a parade format in the 80s to mid-90s, to a pep rally, and then a luncheon event at the Galleria. She discusses the pros and cons of each.
Chapter 10 (And Institutional Unit)
Significant People in the Children’s Art Project (listen/read)
Ms Cheves discusses some of the important leaders of the Children’s Art Project, noting that as the Project evolved, leaders emerged who were used marketing techniques in increasingly sophisticated ways.
Chapter 11(Institutional Change)
Children’s Art Project Funds and Projects Supported, and Changes in CAP Management (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves talks about the funds that CAP generates and the projects it supports. She then discusses the increasing role of social media in marketing.
Chapter 12 redacted until 2019
Chapter 13 (An Institutional Unit)
The Children’s Art Project: A Great Work Environment with Great Volunteers (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves names significant volunteers who have worked for the Children’s Art Project. She describes the type of person who volunteered for CAP and the homey atmosphere of the groups who worked on different tasks with a “quilting bee” friendliness. She points out the essential services that volunteers provide to keep CAP running effectively.
Chapter 14 (An Institutional Unit)
How Children’s Art Project Funds are Allocated (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves sketches the activities that CAP proceeds fund. She explains the composition and activities of the Allocation Committee, which decides on specific allocations each year. She talks about the Camps (Camp Star Trails, Camp A-OK), the Pediatric Scholarship Program (no longer funded), and other projects funded. She emphasizes the importance of the “relationship piece” in solidifying connections with the community and the media.
Chapter 15 (View on Career and Accomplishments)
A Satisfying Career Working with the Children’s Art Project: a Creative “Company” within MD Anderson (listen/read)
Ms. Cheves talks about feelings of satisfaction looking back at a career spent working with an independent and creative business venture within MD Anderson and lists the accomplishments she is most proud of. She notes that she was involved in the creation of more than 2500 products and knew the children who contributed the artwork on which they were based. She mentions the satisfaction of helping the children leave something to pass on, even if they did not survive their disease.
She talks about her philosophy of working with vendors. She notes that hopes to next work developing products for a cause or a small charity.
Ms. Cheves talks about what MD Anderson has done for her, citing the “amazing culture” of the institution.