SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Arts & Cultural Practitioners Call for Solutions to Data Challenges in New CDP Report

  • Posted Apr 22, 2015

The CDP today released a new report, Bridging the Capacity Gap: Cultural Practitioners’ Perspectives on Data, which shares findings from five town hall meetings conducted as part of its ongoing conversation with cultural practitioners about how data can be used to improve the health and effectiveness of the arts and cultural sector. The report offers insights from arts practitioners, artists, service organizations, and funding agencies about the principal challenges they face in collecting, interpreting and applying data to strengthen their decision-making. It offers suggestions from arts leaders about how to build organizational capacities and cultures that support the use of data in management practice.

Town Hall participants identified three top challenges:

  • organizations’ underdeveloped capacity for data collection and interpretation;
  • culture dynamics that undermine the effective use of data; and
  • lack of a strong organizational vision for how to use data in planning and decision-making.

 They proposed solutions in four categories:

  • building internal expertise on data collection, research, and evaluation;
  • imagining specific solutions (i.e., new tools, processes, approaches) to critical data collection challenges;
  • fostering a culture that values data; and
  • improving the effectiveness of CDP technology and tools.

Bridging the Capacity Gap is a follow-up to the CDP’s 2013 report, New Data Directions for the Cultural Landscape: Toward a Better-Informed, Stronger Sector, which assessed the state of data collection and use in the arts and cultural sector, from the perspective of 11 cultural research practitioners. Participants in the New Data Directions online forum proposed a set of key issues inhibiting the field from more strategically engaging in data-informed decision-making.

In 2014, to expand this conversation to the front lines of the sector, the CDP commissioned Chicago-based Slover Linett Audience Research to facilitate five town hall meetings. Local arts leaders came together in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas and Philadelphia to discuss the challenges identified in New Data Directions and to propose ideas for overcoming them. Their perspectives are summarized in Bridging the Capacity Gap. Both reports were authored by Sarah Lee of Slover Linett.

The CDP is already implementing some of the ideas identified in these town halls, streamlining and tailoring the data entry process and developing new educational resources that connect data to actionable insights.

Read or download 'Bridging the Capacity Gap: Cultural Practitioners’ Perspectives on Data' report here.

Read the full Press Release here.