The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

SMU launches new National Center for Arts Research

President Turner revealed on Tuesday evening that Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business are leading a collaboration with the Cultural Data Project and other partners to create the National Center for Arts Research at SMU.

News of the center was announced at a panel discussion at the Nasher Sculpture Center entitled “Ending Guesswork: Using Data to Foster Thriving Arts Organizations.”

Two hundred members of the Dallas art community attended the event.

The unprecedented collaboration efforts of the center will help to support the health of the arts sector.

The mission of the center is “to be the leading provider of evidence-based insights that enable arts and cultural leaders to overcome challenges and increase impact.”

Dr. Zannie Voss, the director of the center, prompted the panel with questions submitted by audience members related to the importance of data in the arts organizations.

Panelists included Rick Lester, chief executive officer of TRG Arts; Glen Howard, board chair of the Cultural Data Project and managing director, legal affairs and general counsel of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Rebecca Thomas, vice president of Nonprofit Finance Fund; Kate Levin, commissioner of the New York Department of Cultural Affairs; Anita Contini, program lead of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Kevin Moore, managing director of Theatre Communications Group.

One common sentiment among the panel is that data will help art organizations end the guesswork and enable them to become a thriving and sustainable business.

The importance of research is reflected in the data driven approach of the new center.

Data collected by the center will enable researchers to analyze the largest database of arts research ever assembled, investigate important issues in arts management and patronage and make its findings available to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers as well as the general public.

Jose Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, said, “in today’s competitive environment, arts and cultural organizations, from museums to orchestras, need to do more than create great works of art. Arts organizations must have a more research-driven understanding of their markets and industry trends in order to more deeply engage existing audiences and reach new ones.”

“As an arts school and research entity, SMU’s Meadows School is uniquely positioned to not only serve as a hub for this critical data, but to apply our expertise to develop new insights that can be shared with arts organizations around the country,” Bowen said.

The center will use the Cultural Data Project data as well as data from other sources such as the Theatre Communication Group, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau and the National Center for Charitable Statistics to create the most complete picture of the shape of the arts sector in
the U.S.

Collaborative efforts will draw on the academic expertise of Meadows and Cox faculty in the fields of arts management, marketing and statistics.

The center’s website will feature an interactive “dashboard” to be accessible to arts organizations nationwide.

It will also serve as a forum for public discussion of the best practices and solutions, an online resource library with helpful tools and templates and offer a YouTube channel for video responses.

Art leaders will be able to enter information about their organizations and compare them to similar organizations in areas such as community engagement, earned and contributed revenue and balance sheet health.

The first annual report will run in the fall of 2013.

For more information, visit the center’s website at 

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