SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Data and Research Requests


What is a Cultural Data Profile?

A Cultural Data Profile (CDP) contains a single Fiscal Year of self-reported financial and programmatic data for one nonprofit organization. Financial data is drawn from audits, reviews, the IRS Form 990, or board-approved year-end financial statements. Programmatic data is drawn from a variety of organizational sources. For many organizations, our dataset includes multiple Data Profiles covering a range of Fiscal Years.

What information does SMU DataArts collect?

The types of data collected include basic organizational information, revenues, expenses, marketing activities, balance sheet items, investments, loans and a wide range of non-financial information (including membership and contributor numbers, attendance, pricing, facilities information, program activity, volunteers, staffing, and workplace details).

How is SMU DataArts data different from IRS data?

The SMU DataArts dataset comprises information provided by self-selected nonprofit entities (incorporated or unincorporated) that voluntarily enter data into a Cultural Data Profile for a number of reasons: i) to apply to an SMU DataArts-affiliated grantmaker; ii) to benefit from analytic reports and insights derived from the data, iii) to contribute to the data collection effort; or iv) to complete an integrated survey for a service organization partner. The dataset is not a comprehensive census or collection of all nonprofit or for-profit arts and culture-related organizations. The IRS Exempt Organizations Business Master File (BMF) includes all active 501(c) organizations in a given calendar year and contains data from filers of three IRS information returns including Form 990, 990-EZ and 990-PF. The SMU DataArts' dataset includes an organization’s EIN (Employer Identification Number), a variable also included in the BMF that can be used to link or cross-reference the datasets.

Financial reporting differs between SMU DataArts and the IRS and should be carefully considered prior to any comparison across datasets. SMU DataArts collects data from organizations and programs based on nonprofit accounting standards and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which are tied to audited financial statements or board-approved financial statements. The IRS Form 990, the federal information return that all 501(c)(3) organizations are required to file in lieu of tax returns, does not follow all of these standards. As a result, you may see differences in financial terms, or even numbers, when comparing these two sources of financial information.

What is the difference between aggregated and disaggregated data?

“Aggregated data” includes summary statistics that do not identify individual organizations and are calculated by combining data from multiple organizations grouped by specific geography (states, counties, zip codes) or other parameters (disciplines, budget sizes, etc.). Most frequently, these are provided as data tables or charts with calculations performed by SMU DataArts research staff. “Disaggregated data” is a raw dataset comprised of organizational data from individual Cultural Data Profiles.

Does SMU DataArts identify individual organizations and their data?

For purposes of analysis, disaggregated data requests may be granted to researchers, subject to SMU DataArts’ review and approval and researchers’ acceptance of a Data License Agreement. Regardless of the data requested (aggregated or disaggregated), any public work products making use of SMU DataArts data must report findings in aggregate only and may not identify or attribute individualized data to any individually identifiable organization.

Can SMU DataArts provide assistance with data analysis and reporting?

SMU DataArts staff is available to assist with data analyses and research projects. To learn more about our research services and how we can assist you with your project, please contact us at

Why is a Data Use Application required?

The Data Use Application provides SMU DataArts with the necessary information to evaluate whether the data request meets the defined criteria and to prepare data for delivery.

How long does it take to receive approval for my request?

The timeframe for approval is dependent upon the nature of the request, the completeness of the application and the clarity of the project research description. SMU DataArts strives to respond to and/ or approve data requests in no more than 5 business days. Timelines for data production and analysis activities will be determined in consultation with the data seeker.

Do I have to sign a licensing agreement in order to have access to the data?

In order to safeguard the information of the arts and cultural organizations participating in the CDP, a non-negotiable Data License Agreement is required of all individuals or organizations receiving any SMU DataArts' data. The licensing agreement details the scope of the license, including restrictions on the use of the data, ownership of the data, and indemnification of SMU DataArts.

Are there data security requirements?

As described in the Data License Agreement, all data must be secured, behind a firewall if possible, and applicants receiving data must make best efforts to prevent unauthorized usage of the dataset. Unauthorized usage includes accessing, downloading, modifying, altering or printing the dataset in whole or in part and any other use, which is either expressly prohibited by or not specifically authorized.

Are there restrictions on the use of a licensed SMU DataArts dataset?

Data License Agreements are in effect for 12 months. SMU DataArts' datasets are licensed for single-use only. The scope of the project must be described in the Data Use Application and will be identified in the non-negotiable research licensing agreement. To re-use a dataset, a new Data License Agreement must be issued.

What format(s) are used to deliver datasets?

Datasets are delivered in Comma-Separated Values (CSV) format. Other formats may be available upon request.

Is a research timeline required as part of the Data Use Application?

While a detailed timeline is not required, you are asked to include as much information as possible with respect to expected dates for preliminary findings, project completion and any potential presentation or publication dates.

Where can I see samples of reports using SMU DataArts data?

Our data is continuously being used by researchers, arts advocates, and arts professionals. For specific examples that relate to your pursuit, contact us directly at

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