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Southern Methodist University Announces New National Center for Arts Research

Southern Methodist University (SMU) announced the creation of a National Center for Arts Research (NCAR). The center will be a collaboration of institutions led by the Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business along with the Cultural Data Project (CDP) and other partners. The purpose of the center will be to analyze the largest database of arts research ever assembled, investigate arts management and patronage issues, and make those findings available to the arts community.

The CDP is based in Philadelphia and was formerly part of the Pew Charitable Trusts. The project collects data from arts organizations all over the United States. The data from CDP will be combined with data from additional sources such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Census Bureau and the National Center for Charitable Statistics. The combined NCAR data will paint a complete picture of the well being of the arts. The center’s goal is to become the nation’s leading source on arts attendance and patronage, arts management, arts in the community, and art trends.

The collaboration will utilize the academic expertise of Meadows and Cox faculty. NCAR’s director is Dr. Zannie Voss, chair and professor of arts management and arts entrepreneurship in the Meadows and Cox schools. Dr. Glenn Voss, the Marilyn R. and Leo F. Corrigan, Jr. Endowed Professor of Marketing at Cox, is the research director.

NCAR will create a website with an interactive dashboard. The technology used will be in collaboration with IBM, which will make the research accessible to all arts organizations in the United States. Arts organizations will be able to compare and benchmark their operating information against similarly sized organizations. The website will also have a discussion forum, YouTube channel and an online resource library. NCAR will publish an annual online “state of the arts” report and host a symposium to discuss findings.

NCAR is possible due to the national partnership and sharing of information. The partnership includes the Cultural Data Project, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Internal Revenue Service data on nonprofit organizations via the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics, the Census Bureau, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Supporting partnerships include the Boston Consulting Group, TRG Arts, IBM, and Nonprofit Finance Fund.

A dozen gracious foundations and individual arts patrons are supporting the center with financial investments. They include Communities Foundation of Texas, M. R. & Evelyn Hudson Foundation, Jennifer and Peter Altabef, Marilyn Augur, Molly Byrne, Bess and Ted Enloe, Melissa and Trevor Fetter, Carol and Don Glendenning, Jeanne R. Johnson, Nancy Nasher, Nancy Perot, Bonnie Pitman, Caren Prothro and Donna Wilhelm.

For more information about the National Center for Arts Research, visit

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