SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


SMU DataArts Receives $1 Million Grant from the Mellon Foundation

  • Posted Jun 22, 2022

SMU DataArts, a national center for arts research, has received a three-year grant totaling $1 million from the Mellon Foundation.

The grant will support SMU DataArts’ objectives across three key areas of advancement, including research and insight generation; strategic and business planning; and technology for data collection and integration.


“We are deeply honored that the Mellon Foundation has renewed its long-standing and generous support of our organization,” said Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts. “The next three years will be guided by bold thinking about our role in the arts and culture sector and our greatest potential to effect change. Our distinction lies in how we specifically view and analyze the arts ecosystem through our research and data-driven insights – not to reduce the sector to numbers, but to reveal vital context and new insights. The Mellon Foundation’s commitment will allow us to continue strengthening our work and serving the national arts and culture field.”

The funds will enable SMU DataArts to address three key goals:

  1. Lead the arts and culture sector with innovative research approaches that address emerging field questions. This work relies on the integration of additional datasets and, at times, a combination of quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques.
  2. Contribute to movement toward diversity, equity and inclusion in the sector through research that examines these critical issues in a multitude of ways, as well as ensure that SMU DataArts’ own work is equitable and inclusive.
  3. Make timely and necessary additions and adjustments to SMU DataArts’ technology infrastructure and data architecture.

“In the midst of the pandemic and the movement to advance racial justice, we are proud of the ways that we have been able to help arts organizations, grant-makers, policymakers and the field with research on such topics as emergence from the COVID-19 crisis and audience diversity, equity and inclusion in large performing arts organizations,” said Samuel S. Holland, dean of SMU Meadows School of the Arts. “Our long-term vision is for a national field of more artistically vibrant communities with healthy cultural organizations, and well-informed public and private funding agencies.”

The Mellon Foundation’s grant supports the University’s $1.5 billion campaign, SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow, particularly the goal to invest in research pursuits that have substantial societal impact and address important challenges.

For more information about SMU DataArts’ research, tools and educational programming, visit

To find out more about how the Mellon Foundation grants impact individuals and communities, visit



SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, is a project of the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. 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; culturally specific arts organizations; protecting arts organizations through downturns; 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. For more information, visit


SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMUʼs alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world. Building on its history of excellence, the University has launched SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow – a multiyear $1.5 billion campaign to empower outstanding students, to enrich teaching and research, and to enhance our campus and community.