SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, MA. Photo by Kent Boynton. Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, MA. Photo by Kent Boynton.

Our History

Data-Driven by Design

For more than a decade, we’ve provided data-informed insights and resources to the arts and cultural sector.

DataArts began in Pennsylvania as the Cultural Data Project in 2004. It was a collaborative venture of visionary funders and arts advocates with a sweeping goal: to address a longstanding need for detailed, reliable information on nonprofit arts, culture, and humanities organizations, and by doing so, strengthen management, philanthropy, research, and public policy. 

By 2013, the data collection and reporting effort, then housed within The Pew Charitable Trusts, had been replicated in 13 states and Washington, With the generous transition support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, The Kresge Foundation, William Penn Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, the CDP became an independent nonprofit organization

In 2016, guided by a refined mission and a new strategy, the Cultural Data Project became DataArts. Our name reflects our evolution beyond data collection and reporting to something bigger: advancing a new field of practice and sharing resources for data-savvy cultural leadership in the twenty-first century. 


A Brief History of the National Center for Arts and Research

In 2012, the Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business at SMU launched the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR). The vision of NCAR is to act as a catalyst for the transformation and sustainability of the national arts and cultural community. The goals of the Center are to unlock insights on: 1) arts attendance and patronage; 2) understanding how managerial decisions, arts attendance, and patronage affect one another; and 3) fiscal trends and fiscal stability of the arts in the U.S., and to create an in-depth assessment of the industry that allows arts and cultural leaders to make more informed decisions and improve the health of their organizations. To work toward these goals, NCAR integrates data from DataArts and its Cultural Data Profile[1] and other national and government sources such as Theatre Communications Group, the League of American Orchestras, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau, and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. NCAR makes its findings available free of charge to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers, and the general public.

NCAR develops reports based on this uniquely comprehensive set of data that models the arts and culture ecosystem. It assesses the industry from multiple perspectives, including sector/art form, geography, and size of the organization, and it determines what drives health from the organization’s conditions and its community’s characteristics. Recent publications include white papers on ways to improve working capital health, dispelling the myth that the arts are elitist, and diversity and equity in the arts, as well as reports on the health of the U.S. arts and cultural sector. NCAR also offers the KIPI Dashboard, a free online diagnostic tool that allows arts organizations to benchmark their individual performance in nine finance and operations categories against their peers.

Get Started Today

DataArts is the interchange where cultural organizations, grantmakers, researchers, and advocates meet, and provides an unparalleled perspective and opportunity for collaboration. Together, we are creating an indispensable national resource, helping us all make the case that, indeed, culture counts.

Pony Box Dance Theatre, Long Beach, CA. Photo by Tracy Kumono. Pony Box Dance Theatre, Long Beach, CA. Photo by Tracy Kumono.

SMU DataArts is Home to the Cultural Data Profile and Much More:

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Access the CDP, other surveys, your grantmaker resources, or use a variety of reports.

News and Research 

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Learn how to put your data to work in your organization, grantmaking, research, or advocacy.