On February 12, 2013, National Center for Arts Research hosted a panel discussion in conjunction with our launch event titled, Ending Guesswork: Using Data to Foster Thriving Arts Organizations, at the Nasher Sculpture Museum in Dallas, TX. Over 250 arts and culture leaders filled Nasher Hall for a panel discussion moderated by NCAR Director, Dr. Zannie Voss. Our esteemed panelists, whom we lovingly call the “Rock-Stars of Data” included:
Rick Lester, CEO, TRG Arts; Distinguished Visiting Professor, SMU
Glen Howard, Board Chair, Cultural Data Project
Rebecca Thomas, Vice-President, Nonprofit Finance Fund
Kate Levin, Commissioner, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
Anita Contini, Art and Culture Program Lead, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Kevin Moore, Managing Director, Theatre Communications Group
They each posses a great wealth of experience with data, the knowledge that emerges from it, and know first hand the potential of evidence-based findings to help arts and cultural managers make more informed decisions.
In order to ensure that the issues discussed by our panelists were relevant to the audience, before the event, we asked audience members the following question:
“What questions do you have about your organization’s practices that you think data could help you solve?”
And while we thought we might receive just a few responses, we had over 50 arts and cultural leaders pose questions that were relevant to them and their organizations. These questions became the jumping off point for an incredibly informative and lively conversation:
• We are awash with data. How do we know which data to use?
• How can data help create financial stability for an organization?
• How has data led to new business models?
• How much programming should we have on the market?
• How do we use data to figure out capacity and balance innovative works with sure-fire successes?
• What demographics matter? I know I should be segmenting, but on what?
• Am I tapped out?
We hope you will take the time to view the panel discussion. As the arts and culture field is moving towards an outcome driven approach, it is imperative that every organization have some set of metrics that is its reason for existing. Our esteemed panelists shared some gems of information to help you on the journey.