Category: Past Virtual Study Groups

Content from past Virtual Study Groups, online gatherings to learn and talk together about emerging issues in cultural research.

Measuring quality

On November 30, 2016, the Cultural Research Network hosted a virtual study group to explore a new research method that seeks to help artists, arts organizations and funders to develop a shared approach to evaluating the reception of their work.

The session comprised a short presentation from an independent researcher who has worked with the Culture Counts Quality Metrics system in the UK: Catherine Bunting.

This was followed by a panel discussion with Catherine and Dr. Abigail Gilmore (University of Manchester, UK), featuring contributions from around the world, with Alan Brown (WolfBrown: USA) and Kim Dunphy (University of Melbourne/Cultural Development Network: Australia). We were able to feed questions and observations from attendees into the discussion.

The VSG was hosted by James Doeser, CRN Committee Member.

The concept of quality measurement has attracted a great deal of controversy, from the arts community as well as researchers. The purpose of the VSG was to demystify this particular approach, and to interrogate the policy, theory and methods that underpin it.

The following readings were distributed to study group registrants to get them up to speed on the issues at hand:

  • Quality Metrics on the Arts Council England website:
  • An explanation of its application in Scotland:
  • An arts correspondent’s take on the controversy it’s generated

“Cultural and Creative Spillovers in Europe” report discussion

On January 26 , 2016, the Cultural Research Network hosted a Virtual Study Group on the report Cultural and Creative Spillovers in Europe.

We heard from Andrew Erskine (from Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy), the main author of the report, as well as two of the commissioners: Nicole McNeilly (Arts Council England) and Tsveta Andreeva (European Cultural Foundation).

The Study Group was hosted by James Doeser.

After learning about the research – what happened; what was discovered – the discussion focused on whether or not the work touched on the cultural sectors in all parts of Europe, what could be learned from a trans-national research program, and what we can confidently say about cause and effect in cultural policy.


Click here for the full report and executive summary.

What is the future of art school?

On Monday, March 30th, 2015, the Cultural Research Network held a virtual study group on the topic “What is the future of art school?” featuring Caroline Woolard, Vicky Virgin and Susan Jahoda from BFAMFAPhD and Steven Tepper from The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP). This VSG focused on the lives, livelihoods, and careers of people who complete degrees in the arts, and the implications of this research on how we shape arts education curricula and policy.  Our guests  discussed their respective findings about the careers of artists after art school, and discuss policy implications.

Questions asked included:

“What is the impact of art school on the lives of arts graduates?”

“In a world where a degree improves economic and professional outcomes for graduates, does this hold true for an arts degree?”

“In our changing economy, with an increasing focus on contract labor and the ‘knowledge economy’, what is the future of art school?”

About the presenters:

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), partners with degree-granting institutions to administer a survey to arts graduates from over 92,000 arts alumni in America. Comprised of an online survey, data management, and institutional improvement system, SNAAP is focused on using their research findings to enhance the impact of arts-school education. View their 2014 report here and an interactive SnaapShot of findings here.

Concerned about the impact of debt, rent, and precarity on the lives of creative people, BFAMFAPhD makes media to connect viewers to existing organizing work. They are a collective of artists, designers, makers, technologists, curators, architects, educators, and analysts who ask: What is a work of art in the age of $120,000 art degrees?  Their recent report, “Artists Report Back A National Study on the Lives of Arts Graduates and Working Artists” shares findings on how arts graduates make their living and manage their debt.

Moderator: Anna Muessig, Gehl Studio



Vetting arts research: peer-review vs. client-review

On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, the Cultural Research Network held a virtual study group on the topic of “Vetting arts research: peer-review vs. client-review”. This conversation featured:

  • Ann Galligan
    Associate professor and co-op coordinator for the Department of Art + Design Program in Creative Industries at Northeastern University.
    Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society
  • Alan Brown
    Principal, WolfBrown

Research in the arts and other areas is typically subject to review and revision before it is shared with the world. In academia, peer review is the standard system for evaluating research quality and relevance in advance of publication or conference presentation. In commissioned or commercial research, a range of formal and informal processes critique and inform the final work.

This virtual study group explored the mechanics, logic, and context of reviewing and revising arts research inside and outside of academia, encouraging discussion about how these systems support (or don’t support) the development and dissemination of rigorous, timely, and relevant research.

Indexing cultural data

On June 12, 2014, the Cultural Research Network hosted a virtual study group on “Indexing cultural data.” A brief introduction:

“How can we measure the arts and culture of a city or region? Can we collect arts and culture data in such a way that cities or regions can compare themselves to each other and identify local strengths? Two efforts to do just that are explored in this virtual study group: WESTAF’s Cultural Vitality Index (CVI) and Americans for the Arts’ National and Local Art Indices.

In this VSG, urban planner Anna Muessig described how she used the CVI in research she did for the city of Minneapolis, and Roland Kushner talked about development of AFTA’s LAI.”

Notes from the VSG are available here and below.


Virtual Pecha Kucha

On April 28, 2014, the Cultural Research Network held a “virtual Pecha Kucha” session. Five presenters offered 20 slides each, at 20 seconds per slide, all with the added excitement and unpredictability of video conferencing. Brave souls.

You can find each presentation below. Or browse all of them through the CRN’s Vimeo Channel.

Thanks to all of our presenters for diving into this grand experiment. And thanks also for all who attended to learn and contribute to the conversation.


William Penrose, Research Center for Arts and Culture
“Quick Overview of Research on Artists”


Bonnie Nichols, National Endowment for the Arts
“Keeping My Day Job: Identifying U.S Workers Who Have Dual Careers as Artists”


Kristin Thomson, Future of Music Coalition
“Health Insurance and Artists”


Nick Rabkin, reMaking Culture
“Teaching Artists: A Century of Tradition and a Commitment to Change”


Jean Cook, Future of Music Coalition
“US Musicians Revenue Streams”

Cultural data: landscape and directions

On March 6, 2014, the Cultural Research Network hosted a virtual study group exploring “Cultural data: landscape and directions.” We discussed arts datasets in the US, challenges for collecting and using arts data effectively, and the future of the Cultural Data Project.

Beth Tuttle, Cultural Data Project
Margaret Wyszomirski, Ohio State University
Sarah Lee, Slover-Linett

Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Metris Arts Consulting

Notes from the webinar are available here and below.


The Arts Policy Library and Arts EdSearch

On February 21, 2014, Carlos Manjarrez moderated a virtual study group focusing on two recently created resources to better assist individuals sorting through culture research: Createquity’s Arts Policy Library (APL) and the Arts Education Partnership’s Arts EdSearch (AES). The panelists included Ian David Moss of Createquity and Fractured Atlas, and Sandra Ruppert of the Arts Education Partnership.

Detailed notes from this study group are available here and below.


Coding methodology for qualitative researchers

On Monday January 13, 2014, the Cultural Research Network hosted a virtual study group on coding methodology for qualitative researchers.

Based on workshops he has given for researchers from a diverse array of fields, Johnny Saldaña presented an overview of coding methods that can be adapted for almost any qualitative research situation.  In preparation for the virtual study group, Johnny shared a chapter manuscript from his forthcoming contribution to The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods, edited by Patricia Leavy.

Johnny Saldaña is the Evelyn Smith Professor of Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts’ School of Film, Dance, and Theatre at Arizona State University.  His most recent books include:

  • Fundamentals of Qualitative Research (Oxford University Press, 2011),
  • Ethnotheatre: Research from Page to Stage (Left Coast Press, 2011) recipient of the American Educational Research Association’s Qualitative Research Special Interest Group’s 2012 Outstanding Book Award
  • The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers, second edition (Sage Publications, 2013)

Saldaña has published articles in journals such as Youth Theatre Journal, Stage of the Art, Teaching Theatre, Research in Drama Education, Research Studies in Music Education, Multicultural Perspectives, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, and Qualitative Inquiry. He has also published chapters on research methods for such titles as Arts-Based Research in Education, Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research, Handbook of Longitudinal Research, New Approaches to Qualitative Research,  Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods, and  entries for The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods.

Saldaña’s research methods in longitudinal qualitative inquiry, ethnodrama, and qualitative coding and data analysis have been applied and cited by researchers internationally to explore topics including education, the fine arts, the social sciences, business, government, technology, health care, and medicine.

He is currently at work on Thinking Qualitatively: Methods of Mind; in development for 2015 publication by Sage Publications.

You can access his full CV here.

You can access notes from the study group here and below.


NCAR’s “State of the Arts” report discussion

On November 21, 2014, the Cultural Research Network hosted a virtual study group webinar with Zannie Voss of the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) at Southern Methodist University. Zannie discussed NCAR and its inaugural State of the Arts report. The NCAR report shares evidence-based insights from their first exploration into the health of U.S. arts and cultural organizations, using secondary data from a variety of sources.

Kiley Arroyo, Deputy Research Director of Sustain Arts, facilitated the discussion.

Notes from the study group discussion are available online and below.