SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


SMU DataArts to Receive $55,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

  • Posted Jan 11, 2023

Dallas, TX — SMU DataArts is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Research Grants in the Arts award of $55,000. This grant will support an examination of workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in a study with grantees of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.

In total, the NEA will award 20 Research Grants in the Arts for a total of $1.075 million in funding to support a broad range of arts-related studies, many of which strive to understand how factors related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility can improve the efficacy of arts management and cultural policies.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from SMU DataArts, part of the NEA’s investment in studies that explore the value and impact of the arts,” said Director of Research & Analysis Sunil Iyengar. “Research studies such as this one are key to our agency’s goal of understanding the factors, conditions, and characteristics of our country’s arts ecosystem and the many ways the arts can impact other areas of American life.”

“As more and more arts organizations embrace DEI as a core value, it is becoming increasingly important to measure the extent to which these ideals are reflected in their workforce and culture and in the individual outcomes of change,” said Dr. Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts. “We are grateful that the NEA has approved support for this important work.”

This research project, undertaken in partnership with Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture and project advisor artEquity, will explicate how each component of DEI (i.e., diversity, equity, and inclusion) impacts independent contractor, employee, and board member outcomes. Specifically, this research will examine the following questions:

  1. How diverse is the arts and culture workforce?
  2. How equitable are arts and culture organizations in terms of access to power; specifically, to what extent is the diversity of the workforce diffused equitably throughout the organizational hierarchy?
  3. How effective are arts organizations in creating a climate of inclusion, and how do individual characteristics and workforce diversity and equity influence employees’ perception of inclusion?
  4. How do the components of workforce DEI, individually or collectively, influence individual outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction, willingness to recommend, likelihood of leaving, etc.)?

"We believe in the power of data to inform policy, program, and practice in the field," said LA County Department of Arts and Culture Director Kristin Sakoda. "The creative workforce is the lifeblood of our arts sector and we're excited to deepen our understanding of cultural equity, diversity, inclusion, and access through their eyes, with DataArts and the support of the NEA." 

For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit Visit to explore more of the NEA’s work in research and analysis, including the agency’s five-year research agenda; in-depth reports and analyses of research topics in the arts; collections of statistics, graphics, and summary results from data-mining about the arts; and more.


SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, is a joint project of the Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. The mission of SMU DataArts is to provide and engage both organizations and individuals with the evidence-based insights needed to collectively build strong, vibrant and equitable arts communities. Its programs provide free business intelligence tools and educational workshops to help arts leaders leverage data to answer critical management questions, communicate about their organizations, and connect research analyses to their own work. Recent publications include white papers on emergence from the COVID-19 crisis; the alchemy that drives high performing arts organizations of color; audience diversity, equity and inclusion in large performing arts organizations; working capital and the resiliency of BIPOC organizations; and more. SMU DataArts also publishes reports on the health of the U.S. arts and cultural sector with its Arts Vibrancy Index, which highlights the 40 most arts-vibrant communities around the country.




Media Contacts:


Emma England

Meadows School of the Arts