Welcome to the first NCAR Report, in which we share evidence-based insights from our inaugural exploration into the health of US arts and cultural organizations. There is no one-size-fits-all performance measure or objective for such a diverse field, only answers to relevant questions that provide an array of useful measures and vantage points. Some anomalies also point to additional questions to explore. We care about numbers not for their own sake, but because we believe that healthier arts and cultural organizations will have more resources to invest in artistic and cultural offerings and in community engagement.
All feedback, questions and comments are welcome, so please let us hear from you!
We organize the report into six broad sections.
This section describes how we developed our arts and culture performance indices. In total, we have identified 184 performance indices to examine over time. Each index provides insight into the financial, operational, and engagement health of an arts and culture organization. We currently have data to examine 128 indices, and we know what data we need to work towards gathering in order to answer the rest. These performance indices fall into 9 general areas: Contributed Revenue, Earned Revenue, Expenses, Marketing Impact, Bottom Line, Balance Sheet, Community Engagement, Program Activity, and Staffing. In this first report we take a deep dive on 8 of the 128 indices, one for each of the first 8 general areas listed above. We will tackle new sets of questions and indices in future reports.
For each of the 8 indices, we report on the 2012 results for: 1) the average for all arts and cultural organizations, 2) the average by arts and cultural sector, and 3) the average by organizational size (i.e., total operating budget). In each case we report the index average (a ratio) as well as the average for its component parts: the numerator and denominator of the index (each a general number). We then report the index average by geographic market cluster and provide some additional traits of these clusters. For those who want to know more, we provide the index averages for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
We conceptualize the arts and culture ecosystem as a set of interdependent relationships among individual artists, arts organizations, their communities and audiences, and the cultural policies that influence the production and consumption of arts and culture. This section documents our data sources and how we organize arts & culture organizations into 11 arts sectors. We also provide details on how we created the spatial model that mathematically captures the relationships between arts & culture organizations and their communities and audiences.
We don’t want to only report on ‘what performance was’, we want to dig deeper to see what drives performance on every measure. Combining organizational data with our spatial model, we examine a host of predictors of performance for the numerators and denominators used in the indices. These predictors include the organizational activities, practices and decisions that impact performance. But arts and cultural organizations don’t operate in a vacuum. They operate in communities so we use the spatial model to explore community and cultural policy factors that positively or negatively impact performance.
The same models that we used to tell what Arts & Culture Ecosystem factors predict performance also produce Key Intangible Performance Indicators (KIPIs) that estimate the intellectual capital – i.e., unobservable managerial and artistic expertise – that drives organizational performance on each index.
Going forward, we will integrate new data as they become available, continue to refine our analytic techniques, and examine the additional indices that you are most interested in. We also are working with IBM to bring you an online dashboard that will provide you with your organization’s individual KIPI scores.
Want to see more?
View the National Center for Arts Research highlights here.