SMU NCAR publishes white paper on measuring strength, effectiveness of culturally specific arts organizations

Victoria Winkelman

SMU NCAR publishes white paper on measuring strength, effectiveness of culturally specific arts organizations

SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) has released a white paper that examines the distinguishing characteristics of arts organizations that primarily serve Asian American, African American, and Hispanic/Latino communities.

Andrea Louie

Andrea Louie

The study is designed to provide insights, based on measurable data, about the operating contexts and unique challenges that these organizations face. Co-authored with Andrea Louie, executive director of the Asian American Arts Alliance, and Zenetta Drew, executive director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, the goal of the white paper is to provide a more nuanced understanding of culturally specific organizations and to help establish a more equitable measure of their performance.

> Read the NCAR white paper: “Does ‘Strong and Effective’ Look Different for Culturally Specific Arts Organizations?”

Zenetta Drew

Zenetta Drew

Inspired by the DeVos Institute’s 2015 publication “Diversity in the Arts: The Past, Present and Future of African American and Latino Museums, Dance Companies, and Theater Companies,” NCAR’s paper responds to two key aspects of the DeVos Institute’s findings: first, that arts organizations of color are in general smaller and “far less secure” than their mainstream counterparts; and second, that funders might see greater results by providing larger grants to a smaller number of “effective” organizations, rather than continuing to fund a larger number of organizations through smaller grants.

Based on its research, NCAR found that culturally specific arts organizations are not disproportionately smaller than their mainstream peers. Taking into account their sector and age, the data shows that they are generally younger and therefore at a different stage in their evolution than mainstream organizations.

NCAR argues that the funding model proposed by DeVos would be detrimental to the cultural ecology, as it could effectively reduce the overall number of smaller organizations and therefore diminish the level of diversity, dynamism, and innovation in the field. NCAR calls for a deeper understanding of culturally specific organizations before significantly altering or abandoning their funding.

NCAR Report“We recognize that culturally specific organizations have particular characteristics that should be understood for what they are, neither good nor bad nor a sign of ineffectiveness but simply a different starting point,” said Zannie Voss, NCAR director. “With this study, we want to reframe how we assess the performance of these organizations by identifying the differences in their operating contexts and by establishing a more precise framework of what expected performance should look like, rooted in evidence-based research.”

— Victoria Winkelman

> Read the full story from SMU News

January 20, 2016|News, Research|

Meadows School to explore community engagement and the arts with Ignite Arts Dallas

Clyde Valentin, director of arts and urbanism and Ignite Arts Dallas in SMU's Meadows School of the Arts

Clyde Valentín, director of the arts and urbanism initiative in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, will lead Ignite Arts Dallas.

SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts has launched a new initiative to focus on the intersections of arts and community engagement among Meadows School students, the University campus, the city of Dallas and the arts at large.

Under the leadership of Clyde Valentín, director of the Meadows School’s arts and urbanism initiative, Ignite Arts Dallas will integrate artistic practices with community engagement in Dallas and other communities across the country.

“Over the past several years the Meadows School has increasingly focused on the intersection of the arts and social engagement,” said Sam Holland, Algur H. Meadows Dean of the Meadows School. “Ignite Arts Dallas will bring together under one umbrella our existing programs in these areas, like the annual Meadows Prize, and spark new ideas for programs that will position the Meadows School and Dallas as a national model for art as civic practice.”

The Meadows Prize invites internationally recognized artists and scholars to interact with Meadows students and create a lasting work in Dallas, and students and faculty from throughout the school’s 11 disciplines are involved with projects that support diverse communities in the city. The 2015 winners of the Meadows Prize residency are the Detroit-based artist collective Complex Movements and Lear deBessonet, director of The Public Theater’s Public Works program in New York City.

A second major project of Ignite Arts Dallas, titled P3, will present non-traditional, multidisciplinary performance art work exploring the themes of racial and cultural equity, religion, immigration and the environment. An inaugural gift of $225,000 from the Embrey Family Foundation will enable P3 to showcase four works in Dallas between fall 2015 and fall 2017. The works will feature international, national and local artists working in collaboration with SMU students and community members. P3 also plans to commission a work from a local artist to be developed and produced in Dallas in spring 2017.

“The P3 series is designed to ‘seed’ a pipeline where creators of mid-size performance art projects begin to make Dallas a regular location for the development and presentation of work,” said Valentín, who served as executive director of the New York City-based Hip-Hop Theater Festival before coming to SMU in October 2013. “It is also a vital way to reach into the community and collaborate with organizations such as the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the South Dallas Cultural Center, Dallas Video Fest and others, while offering our students experiences beyond the classroom and the campus.”

The third major program of Ignite Arts Dallas will be the Dallas Arts Project, which will help bring work created in Dallas to completion and will advocate for exporting it to other communities. Through myriad cultural collaborations and interactions, Valentín and Meadows School faculty members and students will work to enhance Dallas’s existing arts and culture ecosystem and encourage people to think of Dallas’s culture in new ways while connecting that cultural energy to other creative communities around the country.

“Our vision for Ignite Arts Dallas is to engage in deep relationships with the broader Dallas community and to introduce students to the arts’ critical role in social engagement,” said Valentín. “Our tagline is ‘people, place, purpose,’ the main ingredients that create meaningful change, with the arts serving as a connector between various sectors that build community. The arts have the ability to shape the narrative of progress for Dallas and other urban centers across the country. Through our work with exemplary artists, cultural organizers and artistic scholars, we will contribute to a vision of our cities where the arts are integrated into our communities and where the modern urban fabric is built on a foundation of equity and sustainability.”

Written by Victoria Winkelman

> Read the full story at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts website

 

May 13, 2015|News|

SMU’s National Center for Arts Research issues first report

SMU Meadows School of the ArtsSMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) has released its inaugural report assessing the health of the nonprofit arts industry.

The report, available online at smu.edu/artsresearch, is built on the most comprehensive set of arts organization data ever compiled, integrating organizational  and market-level data, and assesses the industry from multiple perspectives, including sector/art form, geography, and size of the organization.

The NCAR report is the first of its kind for the arts, creating a data-driven assessment of organizations’ performances industry-wide and identifying drivers of performance.

NCAR is led by faculty at the University’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business in collaboration with the Cultural Data Project (CDP) and other national partners. The vision of NCAR, the first of its kind in the nation, is to act as a catalyst for the transformation and sustainability of the national arts and cultural community. In its first study, researchers were able to determine the extent to which managerial and artistic experience and decision-making impact an organization’s performance.

“NCAR is the first organization in the country to examine the performance of the arts industry from a statistical, data-driven perspective,” said Meadows Dean José Bowen. “Not only have we assembled the most comprehensive database and conducted the most in-depth analysis of the industry ever undertaken, but we are sharing these findings freely with the entire industry and providing tools for individual organizations to understand themselves and make changes to improve their performance. This is what makes the project unique – we are not just producing another index of how arts organizations are doing. The ultimate goal of NCAR is to improve the health of both individual organizations and the entire arts and culture ecosystem in the United States.”

To create the inaugural report, NCAR researchers integrated and analyzed data from the CDP and other national and government sources such as the Theatre Communications Group, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau, and the National Center for Charitable Statistics. In doing so they created a spatial model of the arts and culture ecosystem of the United States.  The report measures performance on 8 different indices: contributed revenue, earned revenue, expenses, marketing impact, bottom line, balance sheet, community engagement, and program activity.

For each index, overall averages were calculated, as well as averages by sector, by organizational size, and by geographic area. These were broken down into 9 different market clusters, including 5 cities identified as stand-alone markets (New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago).

SMU Meadows School of the ArtsBeyond simply reporting on performance, the NCAR study evaluated specific drivers of performance and then, controlling for these drivers, NCAR was able to create a level playing field for all organizations in order to compare performance across organizations. From this, NCAR estimated how much of the remaining performance variation is attributable to intangible, difficult-to-observe-and-measure characteristics such as good decision-making and managerial or artistic expertise and how much is simply random variation.

NCAR draws on the academic expertise of Meadows and Cox faculty in the fields of arts management, marketing, and statistics. Zannie Voss, chair and professor of arts management and arts entrepreneurship in the Meadows and Cox schools, serves as NCAR’s director and Glenn Voss, the Marilyn R. and Leo F. Corrigan, Jr. Endowed Professor of Marketing at Cox, serves as research director.

“In this first report we took a deep dive into eight of the areas of performance identified, and by studying these averages, tried to answer the question ‘all else being equal, what makes one arts organization more successful than another?’ Some of the findings were as one would expect, but we did find some surprises,” said Zannie Voss. “Perhaps more than any other industry, arts organizations are driven by managerial and artistic expertise. Being able to estimate the value of this expertise in an organization’s performance is the single most valuable result of our first study.”

In 2014, NCAR will launch an interactive dashboard, created in partnership with IBM, which will be accessible to arts organizations nationwide. Arts leaders will be able to enter information about their organizations and see how they compare to the highest performance standards in each of the eight indices for similar organizations. The website will also foster public discussion of best practices and solutions and offer a dedicated YouTube channel for video responses, as well as an online resource library with helpful tools and templates.

Written by Victoria Winkelman

> Read more, including report highlights, at SMU News

December 12, 2013|News, Research|

New Shen Wei work highlights 2012 Spring Dance Concert

SMU dancer Kaily Andriot rehearses 'Five Preludes' for the 2012 Spring Dance Concert

SMU dancer Kaily Andriot rehearses Adam Hougland's "Five Preludes" for the 2012 Meadows Spring Dance Concert. Photo credit: Sharen Bradford.

A new work by groundbreaking choreographer and 2010 Meadows Prize winner Shen Wei will be a marquee feature of SMU’s 2012 Spring Dance Concert. The show, presented by The Meadows Dance Ensemble of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, includes works by three award-winning choreographers and runs March 28-April 1 in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

This year’s works include the premiere of Five Preludes, a ballet by visiting artist-in-residence Adam HouglandSong Awakened by SMU faculty member and noted jazz dance artist Danny Buraczeski; and The New You, a world premiere by Shen Wei.

The concert opens with Five Preludes, a neo-classical ballet on pointe set to five Rachmaninoff preludes. Choreographer Adam Hougland, a Dallas native, is principal choreographer for the Louisville Ballet and resident choreographer for the Cincinnati Ballet. He has won both the Princess Grace Award and the Choo-San Goh Award for choreography and was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to watch” for 2011.

Next on the program is Buraczeski’s Song Awakened, a work set to the songs of Cesária Évora, a noted singer of Creole-Portuguese soul music. The work debuted to critical acclaim at New York’s Joyce Theater in 2001; The New York Times wrote that Buraczeski “makes his dancers voiceless musicians who use their bodies, alone and together, to add rhythms to (Evora’s).” The piece is presented in tribute to Ms. Évora, who passed away in December at age 70. Buraczeski, a nationally known jazz choreographer, has received commissions from such organizations as the Walker Art Center, the Library of Congress, and the American Dance Festival. He also has received multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, for whom he is now a regular panelist and consultant.

> A slideshow of 2012 Spring Dance Concert images from Gary Shultz of SMU News

SMU dancers rehearse a Shen Wei world premiere, 'The New You.'

SMU dancers rehearse a Shen Wei world premiere, "The New You." The renowned choreographer created the work during his Meadows Prize residency at the University in 2012. Photo credit: Sharen Bradford.

Following intermission, the Meadows dancers will perform the world premiere of The New You by Shen Wei – an internationally renowned choreographer, director, dancer and designer and the artistic director of New York-based Shen Wei Dance Arts. Perhaps best know as the lead choreographer for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shen Wei created this new work from the ground up during his three-week Meadows Prize residency in January and February 2012.

“This work is about audiences experiencing new possibilities by building and revising systems that are sensed, but not necessarily known,” said Shen Wei. “Art opens doors we never thought had existed and enables us to access previously unknown dimensions. By sensing different art forms, audiences can discover novel structural foundations and embark on a new journey. I hope this experience can offer the students and the viewers an alternative possibility of space.”

Spring Dance Concert performance times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. Free parking is available at Hillcrest and Binkley or in the garage under the Meadows Museum. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Written by Victoria Winkelman

> Visit the Meadows School of the Arts homepage

March 28, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|

“Stuff Happens” on the Meadows stage Sept. 26-30

Scene from 'Stuff Happens'The Meadows Theatre Division opens its 2007-08 season by taking on the Iraq war. Sir David Hare’s “modern history play” Stuff Happens, directed by Theatre Professor Rhonda Blair, runs Sept. 26-30 in the Margo Jones Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Read more about the production – and about the student actress who went straight to the source to hone her interpretation. (Right, seniors Carson Alexander and Durrell Cooper as George W. Bush and Colin Powell with junior Bianca Denis as Condoleezza Rice.)

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September 20, 2007|Calendar Highlights, News|
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