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Rethinking Relevance, Rebuilding Engagement

February 2, 2022

The Culture & Community research series launched with a first wave survey in May of 2020 designed to provide actionable information about changing community needs, contexts, and behaviors to arts and culture organizations during a time of rapid change and uncertainty. This report shares findings from a second wave of the Culture & Community research, collected in May 2021, over a year into the pandemic, and at a point when cases were falling before new variants emerged. This Wave 2 survey tracked changes in key questions from Wave 1 and explored new lines of inquiry. We developed a new series of questions to explore the dynamics of race and identity in cultural engagement, perceptions of systemic racism across the cultural sector, and the roles that Americans want arts and culture organizations to play in addressing social issues. Along with our partners at LaPlaca Cohen and Yancey Consulting, we named the second wave of this initiative Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation to reflect our hope that this difficult period -- one in which the country has faced not just a pandemic but also a long-overdue racial reckoning and intense political polarization -- would be an opportunity for genuine, system-level change.

Black Perspectives on Creativity, Trustworthiness, Welcome and Well-Being--Findings From a Qualitative Study

December 9, 2021

Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation: A Special Edition of Culture Track is a collaborative effort to keep the cultural sector in dialogue with its communities and participants during the pandemic and inform deeper equity and justice in the years to come. The project pivoted from examining public attitudes and behaviors in a "time of crisis" in 2020 to doing so in a "time of transformation" in 2021, with a crucial focus around racialized experiences in connection with cultural participation and cultural organizations.The first phase of the research, conducted in Spring 2020, was a large-scale survey intended to inform not just resilience but also innovation and progress toward equity in the cultural sector, and to give the U.S. public a voice in the future of cultural engagement. But that first phase was designed and conducted before the murder of George Floyd ignited a national upswell of anger, sadness, and activism and the Movement for Black Lives began to reshape the discourse around racism in every aspect of American life. In a follow-up statistical analysis of the same (early 2020) data published in December as "Centering the Picture," we and our colleagues explored respondents' experiences in relation to their racial and ethnic identities to highlight and amplify what people of color have been going through and what they would like to see changed in the future. The report revealed some unique experiences and perspectives that Black and African American adults in the U.S. have in relation to cultural engagement, digital connection with arts and culture, and social change. The Slover Linett team, knowing that qualitative methods would be necessary to understand those perspectives in a more nuanced and holistic way, advocated for an additional phase of research in 2021 that would offer a triangulation with — as well as departure point from — the twowave quantitative survey.To that end, and in order to authentically amplify Black voices and stories, we dedicated this qualitative phase of the research solely to Black and African American participants' perspectives, since those viewpoints have historically been excluded or sidelined in most research studies and planning efforts in the cultural field. We intentionally took a broad approach to this inquiry, exploring general dynamics of creativity, trustworthiness, welcome, and community support rather than focusing narrowly on arts and culture organizations and attendance. This allowed us to hear and explore how culture and community experiences and organizations naturally fit into peoples' lives, and it led to rich insights that can inform practice, funding, and policy.

Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation: Key Findings from Wave 2

November 23, 2021

The second wave of the national study, Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation: A Special Edition of Culture Track, includes an even broader frame for culture (from libraries to parks, music venues, and festivals), as well as deeper involvement with small, rural or BIPOC-serving organizations.Culture + Community is a national research initiative aimed at bridging the cultural sector with the experiences and needs of its communities and audiences during the pandemic and beyond. The findings coming out of this survey also aim to provide the field with actionable insights towards becoming more equitable, inclusive spaces and toward a movement of transformation as cultural organizations become more active participants within movements for social and racial justice. In April and May of 2020, we conducted the first wave of research with a large-scale online survey that asked about the experiences, needs, and behaviors of a representative sample of the U.S. population plus a large sample of people on the contact-lists of more than 650 cultural organizations around the country.In this second wave of research, we broadened the kinds of organizations in our sample by actively inviting new organizations from categories of institutions who were underrepresented in our Wave 1 work: BIPOC-serving organizations, cultural organizations located in rural parts of the country, festivals (film, food, crafts, music), libraries, for-profit arts, and national and city parks. We also re-invited all 653 organizations from the first wave of the study to participate again in this second wave of research.

Why Is It Important That We Continue? Some Nonprofit Arts Organizations Rethink Their Value in Challenging Times

October 14, 2021

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many nonprofit arts organizations were facing challenges, including declining or stagnant audiences across multiple art forms, causing many to question the very value of their existence. This was certainly true for the 25 organizations in Wallace's Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) initiative, which ran from 2016 through 2019.This brief from arts researcher Francie Ostrower and her team at the University of Texas in Austin, who studied the BAS initiative, captures thoughts from leaders of the 25 organizations on sustainability and how they might fit into a changing arts landscape. Not surprisingly, all of the organizations felt it was important that their organizations continue. Interestingly, however, even before the pandemic and movement for a deeper reckoning with racial justice struck across the country, leaders from a majority of the organizations expressed how essential it was for them to develop and/or maintain strong bonds with their community. Since then, the need for such change has only increased.

Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out: Looking Inside and Across 33 leading SEL Programs: A Practical Resource for Schools and OST Providers

July 26, 2021

The field of social and emotional learning (SEL) is rapidly expanding, as educators bring a sharper focus to helping children build skills beyond academic knowledge. School climate initiatives, anti-bullying work, positive behavior supports and other SEL efforts are now steering programs in schools and out-of-school-time (OST) settings across the country. Building children's SEL skills has taken on even more urgency in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.This updated and expanded guide to evidence-based SEL programs offers detailed information on 33 pre-K through elementary school programs, encompassing curricular content and program highlights. Practitioners from schools, early childhood education (ECE) providers and out-of-school time (OST) can use this resource to look "inside and across" programs to better understand program content and assess program fit with their district or community needs.New chapters in the 2021 edition include recommendations for achieving equitable SEL (including common barriers and best practices) and guidance on trauma-informed or trauma-sensitive approaches to SEL, which includes principles, practices and recommendations for integrating SEL into regular practice.

How to Use the Navigating SEL Guide: Selecting, Adapting, and Learning from Existing SEL Programs

July 26, 2021

This guide provides detailed and transparent information about commonly used, evidence-based SEL programs. By breaking down each program in detail, this report enables schools, preschool and early childhood education (ECE) providers, and out-of-school time (OST) organizations to see whether and how well individual programs might: address their intended SEL goals or needs (e.g., bullying prevention, character education, behavior management, school readiness, etc.);align with a specific mission (e.g., promoting physical fitness, community service, the arts, etc.);meet the specific social and emotional and behavioral needs of their students (e.g., behavior regulation, conflict resolution, academic motivation, executive function and early learning skills, etc.);fit within their schedule or programmatic structure;integrate into existing school climate and culture initiatives, positive behavioral supports, and/or trauma-informed systems;complement other educational or programmatic goals outside of SEL (e.g., a school looking to boost student literacy scores or make up for the absence of a regular art or music class might consider selecting a program that frequently incorporates reading and writing activities, drawing and creative projects, or music and songs);ensure that SEL programming is equitable (i.e., relevant, beneficial, and culturally-appropriate for all students); andbridge OST settings and the regular school day.This type of information can be used by schools, ECE providers, and OST organizations to: (1) select specific programs or strategies that best meet their individual needs; (2) guide planning and goal-setting conversations with school and district leaders, ECE administrators, OST partners, and other stakeholders; and/or (3) re-evaluate the fit and effectiveness of SEL programs and structures already in use. 

Putting Data to Work for Young People: A Framework for Measurement, Continuous Improvement, and Equitable Systems

July 13, 2021

Systems that coordinate afterschool, summer and other out-of-school-time programming communitywide have emerged in a number of U.S. cities and counties over the last 15 years or so. The organizations that oversee these systems increasingly recognize the need for periodic pulse checks to evaluate their efforts and inform improvements. But what, exactly, should these organizations assess and how?In 2014, a framework to help answer that was developed by Every Hour Counts, a national coalition of citywide organizations that seeks to increase access to high-quality learning opportunities, particularly for students from underserved communities. This framework is a research-informed update of the tool.The heart of the framework is 11 desired outcomes of system work, some or all of which system leaders might want to measure progress toward, depending on local needs and circumstances. Five are directly related to overall system work and include whether a common goal for afterschool has been established. Three regard the efforts of programs, stressing, for instance, that they use management practices that enhance program quality. And three are related to young people—the rate of youth participation in programs, among them.For each of the 11 items, the tool describes indicators signaling progress toward the outcome; the type of data that can be collected for the indicators; ideas for working with the data; and ways to interpret and use the findings. A feature of the update from the 2014 version of the framework is a set of racial equity questions for each outcome, exploring matters ranging from whether system decision-making is inclusive to whether programs distribute high-quality offerings equitably. 

Putting Data to Work for Young People Guidebook: A Guidebook for the Every Hour Counts Framework for Measurement, Continuous Improvement, and Equitable Systems

July 13, 2021

Systems that coordinate afterschool, summer and other out-of-school-time programming communitywide have emerged in a number of U.S. cities and counties over the last 15 years or so. The organizations that oversee these systems increasingly recognize the need for periodic pulse checks to evaluate their efforts and inform improvements. But what, exactly, should these organizations assess and how?In 2014, a framework to help answer that was developed by Every Hour Counts, a national coalition of citywide organizations that seeks to increase access to high-quality learning opportunities, particularly for students from underserved communities. This framework is a research-informed update of the tool.The heart of the framework is 11 desired outcomes of system work, some or all of which system leaders might want to measure progress toward, depending on local needs and circumstances. Five are directly related to overall system work and include whether a common goal for afterschool has been established. Three regard the efforts of programs, stressing, for instance, that they use management practices that enhance program quality. And three are related to young people—the rate of youth participation in programs, among them.For each of the 11 items, the tool describes indicators signaling progress toward the outcome; the type of data that can be collected for the indicators; ideas for working with the data; and ways to interpret and use the findings. A feature of the update from the 2014 version of the framework is a set of racial equity questions for each outcome, exploring matters ranging from whether system decision-making is inclusive to whether programs distribute high-quality offerings equitably. 

CMA Survey Summary: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Small Ensemble Music Field June 2021

June 1, 2021

Chamber Music America (CMA), a national service organization that represents nearly 4,000 musicians, ensembles, presenting organizations, businesses and affiliates, conducted a series of Wallace-supported surveys to better understand the difficulties the field has faced and the ways in which they have worked to overcome them. The first survey, launched in April 2020, came as organizations were shutting down in response to Covid-19. Subsequent surveys in June 2020 and June 2021 show how small ensembles have adapted as the pandemic drags on.

Out-of-School Time Programs This Summer: Paving the Way for Children to Find Passion, Purpose & Voice - Parent, Teacher & OST Provider Perceptions

May 1, 2021

When it comes to summer—particularly a summer that follows a year of pandemic-induced isolation—parents have three priorities for what they want summer programming to address for their children: their social and emotional health, providing them with physical outdoor activities and helping them discover their passion and purpose.A new, national survey by Arlington, VA-based market research firm Edge Research, in conjunction with Learning Heroes, a nonprofit dedicated to elevating the voice of parents in education, was commissioned by Wallace to explore the unique, differentiated role out-of-school time (OST) programs play in youth development compared with home and school, how parents assess quality in OST programs and the impact of COVID-19 for summer 2021—and beyond.Findings revealed substantial worries among parents about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many feeling their children are struggling academically, socially and emotionally: 40 percent worried that children were missing out on social connections and friendship; 32 percent about too much screen time; and 26 percent about falling behind academically. Similar concerns were voiced among teachers and OST providers, with teachers most worried about students falling behind academically (39 percent) and OST providers most worried about emotional well-being (26 percent).

The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations, Part II: A Spotlight on Organizations of Color

March 1, 2021

This paper, based on research conducted during August and September of 2020, shares findings from a second phase of research investigating the elements of successful strategies employed by high-performing arts organizations. Phase I, conducted in early 2020, examined the strategies employed by 10 visual and performing arts organizations that financially outperformed others and 10 that once performed poorly but engineered a turnaround. It also explored the conditions in which these strategies appeared to succeed.Phase II explores whether findings similar to those of Phase I would emerge with high-performing organizations in the performing and community-based arts sectors that primarily serve communities of color,1 with lower average budget size than those in the initial cohort, and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the pandemic and key differences in organizational characteristics, many of the elements described by leaders of these organizations of color were identical to those that emerged in Phase I while others were depicted quite differently, and several new elements and connections emerged.

Centering the Picture: The role of race & ethnicity in cultural engagement in the U.S.

December 16, 2020

"Centering the Picture," released in December 2020, provides an analysis of response patterns by race and ethnicity in the first phase of Culture + Community in a Time of Crisis (CCTC), a national audience and community survey conducted in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors explore how and why Americans of all racial/ethnic groups connect to arts, culture, and creativity; what they need from the sector during times of challenge and change; how they've engaged digitally during the lockdowns; and how they want arts and culture organizations to change. The 56-page report includes an executive summary, introduction, findings, "snapshots" for each racial and ethnic group, a concluding discussion, and several appendices (see below), with a foreword by the distinguished museum educator Esther J. Washington of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.CCTC is a multi-phase research collaboration between Slover Linett and LaPlaca Cohen, with consulting partners Yancey Consulting and a number of expert advisors. Some findings from the study are disseminated as part of LaPlaca Cohen's ongoing Culture Track study; this report builds on the overall Key Findings shared with the field in July 2020 (http://culturetrack.com/research/reports). Generous support for Wave 1 was provided by the Wallace Foundation, Terra Foundation for American Art, Art Bridges, FocusVision, and Microsoft Corporation. Upcoming phases will also be supported by the Barr Foundation, William Penn Foundation, and Institute for Museum and Library Services.The authors welcome questions and comments at CCTC@sloverlinett.com.