Deputy Director of Research & Sr. Advisor
From 2011–2014 I served as the Deputy Director of Research for The Initiative for Sustainable Arts in America. Working on behalf of the Foundation Center and in partnership with Harvard’s Hauser Institute for Civil Society and Fractured Atlas, I was responsible for design of the Initiative’s national, multi-site research strategy. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative strategies, I developed a comprehensive model of how metropolitan cultural ecosystems have evolved over the past twenty years. This approach was implemented in Southeast Michigan where we created a map of the region’s cultural economy, which contained four interrelated layers of longitudinal data that covered the following dimensions:
- Regional demography
- Cultural participation, consumer preference, and psychographic trends associated with each of the region’s demographic groups
- Organizational composition of the region’s cultural economy, including for-profit, non-profit, and unincorporated entities, delineated by discipline
- Capitalization trends for the region’s cultural economy, including earned and contributed income from federal, state, and municipal level sources as well data concerning giving by individuals and via Kickstarter
Data that described each of these dimensions now flows to an interactive platform, which provides cultural practitioners, individual artists, community development professionals, funders, and civic agencies with free and easy access to knowledge designed to enhance regional cultural policy, planning, and funding practices.
In SE Michigan I collaborated with our local field director to design and facilitate a range of local capacity-building workshops. During these session we engaged with a diverse cross-section of local stakeholders on a range of topics that included: asset mapping, data literacy, capitalization, demographics, organizational life-cycles/development, cultural policy, and shifting patterns of cultural engagement. These workshops were intentionally designed to invite local feedback on the overall design of our work and leverage local interpretive expertise as we began to explore a variety of data. Working in partnership with my colleagues at the Foundation Center, I led our systems-level analysis of the region’s cultural economy and produced the report Sustain Arts SE Michigan: A Portrait of the Cultural Ecosystem.
While serving as Deputy Director of Research I also co-authored, with staff from the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, the NEA study Birth and Mortality Rates of Arts and Cultural Organizations, 1990–2010, a causation analysis of organizational life cycles across six metropolitan areas. This report includes a comprehensive assessment of how funders might ‘right-size’ future investments to better align with the carrying capacity of local cultural economies, given the resources available in each region. I continue to serve as a senior advisor to the Foundation Center for this initiative.