Category: Past Virtual Study Groups

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

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)

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:


“Ask Me Anything” with Sunil Iyengar, NEA Director of Research and Analysis

On April 3, 2017, the Cultural Research Network held a virtual study group to explore the NEA’s new five-year research agenda. Sunil Iyengar (Director of Research and Analysis at the NEA) kindly agreed participate, and fielded questions from the membership. The format resembled a 60-minute “Ask Me Anything” in the style of Reddit, with James Doeser moderating. The discussion covered topics like:

  • What has changed since the publication of “How Art Works”?
  • What has been learned from research outside the US?
  • Why do some research questions seem to persist indefinitely?
  • How can we coordinate efforts better?

Questions were able to be submitted in advance, and were actively posed during the Study Group

To review the NEA’s research agenda in preparation for the VSG, click here.


CultureLab Fellows’ research collections

On Tuesday, January 31, 2017, seven members of the Cultural Research Network who received CultureLab Fellowships from Alan Brown/WolfBrown presented overviews of their collections as an informal webinar. These collections are groupings of researching literature in the CultureLab Library–a free online resource for students, researchers, and managers–each under a unifying concept. The Fellowships were supported by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to build the library as a resource for the field.

The CultureLab Fellows and their collections include:

Brea Heidelberg: Emerging Arts Leaders Programs

Laura Elayne Miller: Alternative Modes of Cultural Production – The Contemporary Practices of Artist-Run Platforms and Small-Scale Arts Organizations

Lynn Osgood: Civic Engagement and the Arts

Rachel Engh: Creative Placemaking

Tracy Hudak: Creative Economy

Diedre Thomas: Funding Equity in the Arts

Julie Judson: Millennials in Philanthropy


The CultureLab Library is a free online resource. To request a user account, go to and click on ‘Request an Invite’.

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”