Author: crnmanager

Open and Public Data in Arts Research

On September 26th, the Cultural Research Network Steering Committee member W.F. Umi Hsu organized a Virtual Study Group to explore open data sources in arts research.


Open and Public Data in Arts Research from Cultural Research Network on Vimeo.


Arts and cultural data have been made available than ever. This Virtual Study Group explores the affordances of data sharing and public data in applied arts research. These emerging data practices result in research events like the Arts Access Datathon and tools such as open data portals, public art archive, open source cultural heritage work (Loca Preservation School), data-informed policy map (CultureBlocks), and arts programming (e.g. placemaking and public art, ex. Monument Lab). They provide open and potentially collaborative modalities for research in government agencies, public-sector/nonprofit arts research, and artist-driven projects in social practice and creative placemaking. This VSG features speakers who are arts researchers forging new paths with practices in related fields such as civic technology, digital design, and digital cultural heritage.


  • Monument Lab: Laurie Allen
  • CultureBlocks: Lindsay Tucker So
  • Open data in historic preservation: Eli Pousson

Produced and moderated by W.F. Umi Hsu (CRN Steering Committee Member; Digital Strategist, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs)

Arts Indexes

On July 25th, the Cultural Research Network Steering Committee arranged a Virtual Study Group  to explore the concept of Arts Indexes.

There are currently a mix of Arts Indexes (or Indices) in operation around the world. The NEA has indicators for livability. NCAR has an arts vibrancy index. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing has a cultural element as well. There is an Arts Index devised by the National Campaign for the Arts in the UK which is inspired by the one produced by Americans for the Arts. Indexes and Indicators have also been used by the cities of Chicago or Denver, to name but two.

In this VSG, Zannie Voss introduces the NCAR approach and we broaden out the discussion to include David Brownlee from the National Campaign for the Arts in the UK to ask in what ways these tools are useful, as analytical devices as well as political or advocacy prompts.

This VSG was produced by James Doeser and Jennifer Armstrong.


To view the entire webinar, please click below:

CRN Virtual Study Group: Arts Indexes from Alan Brown on Vimeo.

July 2017

1. Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert. Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City. “The Social Wellbeing of New York City’s Neighborhoods: The Contribution of Culture and the Arts.” 2017. New York (NY).

This report presents the conceptual framework, data and methodology, and findings of a two-year study of culture and social wellbeing in New York City by SIAP with Reinvestment Fund. Building on their work in Philadelphia, the team gathered data from City agencies, borough arts councils, and cultural practitioners to develop a 10-dimension social wellbeing framework—which included construction of a cultural asset index—for every neighborhood in the five boroughs. The research was undertaken between 2014 and 2016.


2. Nick Wilson, Jonathan Gross, and Anna Bull. King’s College London. “Towards cultural democracy: Promoting cultural capabilities for everyone.” 2017. London (UK).

The final report of King’s fourth Cultural Enquiry. On the basis of a 15-month research project, it presents a timely and distinctive vision of how to build a cultural life for the UK that is valuable for everyone, and made by all.


3. Vassilka Shishkova. IETM. “Look, I’m Priceless! Handbook on how to assess your artistic organisation.” 2017. Brussels (BE).

This toolkit aims to guide you through the key steps of evaluation, whether you have chosen to do it yourself or if a funder or decision-maker asks you to do so and provides you with pre-conceived tools.


4. Michael Etzel and Hilary Pennington. Stanford Social Innovation Review. “Time to Reboot Grantmaking. 2017. United States.

Social sector organizations need a “healthy diet” of funding to achieve maximum impact, a concept neatly captured by the Grantmaking Pyramid now used by the Ford Foundation. Bridgespan developed, and then refined with the Ford Foundation, a simple Grantmaking Pyramid that reframes how funders and their grantees should think about building successful, resilient organizations.


5. Gay Hanna, Judy Rollins, and Lorie Lewis. Grantmakers in the Arts. “Arts in Medicine Literature Review.” 2017. United States.

A growing body of research is bringing attention to how the arts — including literature, performing and visual arts, as well as architecture and design — can greatly enhance the healthcare experience. Arts in medicine contributes to improved healthcare outcomes, better patient and staff satisfaction, and lower healthcare costs. Established as a field in the 1990s, arts in medicine programming in clinical settings usually developed as part of university healthcare systems in partnership with community based artists and arts organizations.

Impacts of Creative Placemaking: A Review of ArtPlace Research Findings

On July 11th, the Cultural Research Network hosted a webinar about the impacts of Creative Placemaking, which included a review of ArtPlace’s research findings. These findings involved nearly two years of a comprehensive, multi-year research initiative to unearth promising practices and trends at the intersection of community development sectors with arts and culture.


To view the entire webinar, please click below:



  •  Anna Muessig, Gehl/SF and Cultural Research Network Steering Committee Member (Host)
  •  Jamie Hand, ArtPlace America (Facilitator)
  •  John Arroyo, MIT (Arts/Immigration Research)
  •  Alexis Frasz, Helicon Collaborative (Arts/Environment Research)
  •  Danya Sherman, ArtPlace America (Arts/Housing Research)
  •  Victor Rubin, PolicyLink (Respondent)

June 2017

1. Robert Phiddian, Julian Meyrick, Tully Barnett, and Richard Maltby. Cultural Trends. “Counting Culture to Death.” 2017. Australia.

Founders of the research project “Laboratory Adelaide: the Value of Culture” argue that the emphasis on “quantifying impact” in cultural policy is not delivering on its promises and that its unintended consequences can prove to be destructive.


2. Nanos Research. Ontario Arts Council. “Impressions of the impact of the arts on quality of life and well-being in Ontario.” 2017. Ontario.

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) telephone random survey of 1,004 residents of Ontario, 18 years of age or older, between March 2 and 8, 2017, as part of an omnibus survey.


3. Scott D. Jones. Education Commission of the States. “ESSA: Mapping opportunities for the arts.” 2017. United States.

This special report highlights the ways that states and districts can engage the arts in the ongoing work of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Designed to continue growing as ESSA implementation proceeds, this report currently contains chapters exploring the opportunities for arts education within the following topics: Accountability, Assessments, Stakeholder Engagement, State Plans, Tiers of Evidence, Title I and a Well-Rounded Education.


4. Sean Thomas-Breitfeld and Frances Kunreuther. Building Movement Project (BMP). “Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap.” 2017. United States.

Building Movement Project’s leadership report highlights that the nonprofit sector is experiencing a racial leadership gap. The report finds that the nonprofit sector needs to address established practices and biases to diversify the leadership base.


5. Professor Dai Smith. Welsh Government. “Arts in Education: An independent report for the Welsh Government into Arts in Education in the Schools of Wales.” 2013. Wales.

This report by Professor Dai Smith, commissioned by The Welsh Government, evaluates the state of arts education in Wales and offers twelve recommendations for its improvement. The report generated a response from the Welsh Government and an action plan.

May 2017

1. Emer Smyth. Arts Council of Ireland & The Economic and Social Research Institute. “Arts and Cultural Participation among Children and Young People.” 2016. Ireland.

The Arts Council of Ireland commissioned this research to improve our knowledge and understanding of children’s participation in cultural life and the arts in Ireland. When researchers analyzed the distribution of cultural engagement among different groups, they found higher rates of engagement among children from more advantaged social backgrounds, and with higher levels of educational attainment by the mothers.


2. Jill Sonke, Jennifer Lee, Judy Rollins, Ferol Carytsas, Susan Imus, Patricia Lambert, Tina Mullen, and Heather Spooner. Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida. “Talking about Arts in Health.” 2016. United States.

This white paper from the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida addresses the language used to describe “arts and health” from a higher education perspective.


3. Zannie Giraud Voss and Glenn B. Voss. SMU National Center for Arts Research. “NCAR Arts Vibrancy Index: A Heat Map.” 2015. United States.

NCAR presents an interactive map depicting the level of artistic activity in different areas of the U.S. based on different “scores.” Scores include arts dollars, arts providers, government support, and other characteristics.


4. Miriam Steiner. Arts Professional. “Transforming Young Minds.” 2017. United Kingdom.

According to Miriam Steiner of Rhythmix, music-making sessions for young people with mental health issues have had a recognized impact, and commissioning an independent evaluation has enabled the knowledge and experiences gained to be shared.


5. Robin Pogrebin. The New York Times. “Arts Groups on Edge as New York City Re-evaluates Cultural Funding.” 2017. United States.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his lieutenants are deep into a re-examination of New York City’s $178 million arts budget to try and give a higher profile to smaller institutions in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Preview Three New Collections in the CultureLab Library

On May 9, 2017, Alan Brown – Chair of the Cultural Research Network, hosted a brief webinar to preview three new collections in the CultureLab Library. The following graduate students in Arts Administration at Drexel University presented on their topics of interest:

  • Karen Tarkulich’s collection of literature exploring the impact/relationships of public art and communities;
  • Rolanda Williams’ collection exploring diversity in arts leadership from a perspective of women of color; and
  • Meghan Randolph’s collection delving into the theory and practice of marketing “risky” or adventurous artistic work.

To review these collections, please view the video below:


April 2017

1. Caroline Sharp and Adam Rabiasz. National Foundation for Education Research (UK). “Key Data on Music Education Hubs 2015”. 2016. United Kingdom.

This report provides quantitative insights measuring the effectiveness of Music Education Hubs (MEHs) in 2015, employing five key performance indicators such as musical instrument lessons, ensemble performance, and organization partnerships.

2. Creative Industries Federation. “Brexit Report: The impact of leaving the EU on the UK’s arts, creative industries, and cultural education – and what should be done”. 2016. United Kingdom.

This report assesses the impact of the “Brexit” referendum, for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, on the arts and culture sector. Additionally, this analysis proposes responsive solutions to stabilize and improve upon existing challenges.

3. Saskatchewan Partnership for Arts Research. “Understanding the Arts Ecology of Saskatchewan from the Artist’s Perspective: An Overview of Results from the Artist Survey of 2014”. 2015. Canada.

This report is the first comprehensive survey of artists across all arts disciplines in Saskatchewan, initially conducted in April 2014 with a subsequent survey of the public in May, dedicated to understanding the working conditions of artists.

4. Zannie Voss, et al. The League of American Orchestras. “Orchestra Facts: 2006-2014”. 2016. United States.

This report is the first in a longitudinal series focusing on the finances and operations of American orchestras; the current installment details the period from 2006-2014, covering the field’s challenges throughout the recession and recovery.

5. James Bau Graves, et al. Americans for the Arts. “African in Maine. Case Study: Center for Cultural Exchange”. 2005. United States.

This case study focuses on the “African in Maine” program’s work to develop appropriate cultural programming for refugee communities of color in Maine, emphasizing contention surrounding ideas such as dialogue, identity, representation, and democracy.

March 2017

1. UNESCO. “Culture: Urban Future. Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development”. 2016. International.

This report makes recommendations linking the implementation of the UNESCO Culture Conventions with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, employing insights from scholars, NGO partners, and urban thinkers.

2. ECORYS. Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (UK). “Local economic impacts from cultural sector investments”. 2014. United Kingdom.

This literature review examines 40 different culture-sector economic impact studies in both the UK and abroad (2004-2014), assessing the commonality and variability in the methodologies of these studies, and describing their frequent lack of rigor.

3. Arts Council England. “Equality, Diversity, and the Creative Case: A Data Report, 2015-2016”. 2016. United Kingdom.

This is Arts Council England’s second annual report on diversity within their National Portfolio Organizations (NPOs), concluding that while diversity metrics have improved since the first assessment, privileged participants are still over-represented.

4. Jeffrey Chapline and Julene K. Johnson. NEA Office of Research & Analysis. “The National Endowment for the Arts Guide to Community-Engaged Research in the Arts and Health”. 2016. United States.

This guide describes best practices for collaboration between researchers, organizations, and artists investigating the arts’ impact on healing and health outcomes, as well as assesses the efficacy of applying this knowledge to arts therapy programs.

5. Kelly Hill and Hill Strategies Research, Inc. British Columbia Alliance for Arts + Culture. “British Columbia arts, culture, and heritage organizations in 2015”. 2016. Canada.

This report analyzes the financial, operational, governance, and program capacity of 206 arts organizations in British Columbia, Canada, and compares this field’s situation with the metrics of other neighboring provinces.

February 2017

1. Matthew Stromberg. California Arts Council. “Nonprofit Media Coverage of the Arts in California: Challenges and Opportunities”. 2016. United States.

This report summarizes activities from the California Arts and Public Media Summit (June 23, 2016), convened to evaluate the flaws in the California Arts Council’s “Arts on the Air” pilot program which was suspended due to stakeholder criticism.

2. Olsberg SPI and Nordicity. British Film Institute. “Economic Contribution of the UK’s Film, High-End TV, Video Game, and Animation Programming Sectors”. 2015. United Kingdom.

This report examines the economic impact of the United Kingdom’s “screen sectors” comprising film, high-end TV, video games, and animation, while advocating for tax relief justified by a claim of multi-fold return on investment.

3. Danielle Linzer and Mary Ellen Munley. Whitney Museum of American Art. “Room to Rise: The Lasting Impact of Intensive Teen Programs in Art Museums”. 2015. United States.

This study evaluates the impacts of American museum programs for teens, focusing on the activities of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

4. Pierre-Olivier Saire, et al. Canada Council for the Arts. “Patterns of Attendance and Cultural Participation by Young People in the Canadian Theatre for Young Audiences and Children’s Festivals Sector”. 2016. Canada.

This exploratory study analyzes Canadian public participation in theater for young audiences, and children’s festivals, through a series of questions involving regional factors, audience age, teacher/school influence, and the impact of new technologies.

5. BOP Consulting and Graham Devlin Associates. Arts Council England. “Analysis of Theatre in England”. 2016. United Kingdom.

This report explores the current status of UK theatre production, performance, and audience experience by juxtaposing three different economic models that companies employ: subsidized, unfunded not-for-profit, and commercial (for profit).