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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.

Culture & Community in a Time of Transformation: Focus on Massachusetts

December 15, 2021

Culture & Community in a Time of Transformation: Focus on MA aims to connect the cultural sector in Massachusetts with the experiences and needs of Massachusetts communities and audiences during the pandemic and beyond. In this report, we share highlights of the kinds of change and transformation that MA residents want to see in the arts & culture sector, building blocks for a more resilient and relevant sector, and the impacts of online and offline experiences in our cultural lives, among other themes.  This research has been generously supported by the Barr Foundation & it builds upon the national Culture & Community in a Time of Transformation study.In this report, we highlight how Massachusetts residents are similar and different in attitudes, behaviors, and hopes for the arts and culture sector compared to the country as a whole. This research has a robust methodology with more than 8,000 responses collected from MA residents and more than 75,000 responses nationally to this Culture & Community survey conducted in April, 2021.

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.

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.

Setting the Stage for Community Change: Reflecting on Creative Placemaking Outcomes

November 2, 2016

As interest in measuring and understanding the impact of arts investments in community development continues to grow, this new study, Setting the Stage for Community Change: Reflecting on Creative Placemaking Outcomes, commissioned by the Levitt Foundation and led by Slover Linett Audience Research, examines how "creative placemaking" interventions build social capital in communities, using permanent outdoor Levitt music venues as case studies. This research offers insights into arts-based strategies to promote social connectivity, a central goal of many creative placemaking efforts, and is a working illustration of what can and can't be learned from different impact measurement approaches.

Recognizing and Advancing Nonprofit Excellence

March 1, 2016

Between 2006 and 2013, the MacArthur Foundation awarded nearly $54 million to 79 social sector organizations around the world through the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Designed to recognize a subset of the Foundation's grantees for their extraordinary contributions to their fields and to help foster their long-term financial stability and operational strength, the award is a onetime infusion of capital, typically between $350,000 and $1 million.The Foundation commissioned this evaluation of the MacArthur Award to take stock of the program as it approaches its tenth anniversary, to learn more about its influence on awardee organizations, and to inform future decision-making about it and related grantmaking strategies. Slover Linett designed a two-phase study: an initial discovery phase, which included a review of key program documents and interviews with 19 Foundation staff and stakeholders, followed by a primary investigation phase, which included in-person and telephone interviews with 30 past awardees and an online survey of the awardee pool. We then synthesized the findings from all of these sources of data to paint an overarching picture of how the MacArthur Award works and its influence on recipient organizations.

Bridging the Capacity Gap: Cultural Practitioners' Perspectives on Data

April 22, 2015

In the summer of 2013, the Cultural Data Project (CDP) partnered with Slover Linett Audience Research to engage leading researchers in a virtual dialogue about cultural data and its role in supporting the long-term health, sustainability, and effectiveness of the cultural sector. The resulting white paper, New Data Directions for the Cultural Landscape: Toward a Better-Informed, Stronger Sector, identified six key challenges that appear to be inhibiting the field from more strategically and effectively engaging in data-informed decision-making practices.With that report as a starting point, the CDP sought to expand the conversation to include the perspectives of arts practitioners, artists, service organizations, and funding agencies working on the "front lines," by hosting a series of town hall-style meetings in five cities across the country. At these meetings, participants discussed the challenges identified in the New Data Directions report, articulated other challenges they're facing, and began to suggest solutions. In this report, we summarize what we heard and learned from approximately 185 cultural practitioners in town halls in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, and Philadelphia.