On August 16, SMU announced the merger of its National Center for Arts Research (NCAR), a leading provider of evidence-based insights on the nonprofit arts and cultural industry, with DataArts, the respected Philadelphia-based resource for in-depth data about U.S. nonprofit arts, culture and humanities organizations, effective immediately.
The two are joining forces to strengthen the national arts and cultural community through data, the knowledge that can be generated from it, and the resources to use it.
The combined entity, SMU DataArts, will integrate the strengths and capabilities of both organizations, which have been closely collaborating since 2012. The merger will continue the core operations of both organizations and build on their existing successful programs. NCAR’s research expertise, its partnerships with other data providers, and the resources of a major research university will be combined with DataArts’ existing data collection platform and relationships with arts organizations and grantmakers. SMU DataArts aims to make data useful and accessible to all in the arts and culture field, illuminating strengths, challenges and opportunities for individual arts organizations and for the sector as a whole, to help ensure long-term stability.
Since its founding, NCAR has integrated national data on arts organizations and their communities to provide evidence-based insights and tools to arts leaders as well as groundbreaking research on the impact and viability of the nonprofit cultural industry. NCAR’s research is available free of charge to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers and the general public. Its findings and tools have been accessed nearly 100,000 times by users from all 50 U.S. states and 166 countries. Its Key Intangible Performance Indicators (KIPI) Dashboard, a free online diagnostic tool launched in July 2016, has attracted more than 7,600 unique users.
DataArts, a non-profit organization, created and manages the widely used Cultural Data Profile, an annually updated national data set covering the financial and programmatic activity of 12,000 U.S. cultural nonprofits. Data and insights drawn from the Cultural Data Profile are used by grantmakers to steward their investments; by research institutions such as SMU to identify trends and develop findings about the sector; and by cultural institutions to improve their financial and programmatic operations. In the last year alone, DataArts users have produced 5,500 reports using their data and have registered more than 1,500 times for training sessions, webinars and online courses to develop their data skills.
“SMU DataArts is a natural extension of the mission of our university and our investment in data excellence,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said. “By combining the highest levels of academic research with widely accessible education and training programs serving the nonprofit arts industry, we can more effectively contribute data and knowledge to the arts and culture field. This merger will create new connections between SMU and cultural organizations in every part of the country.”