SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego, CA. Photo by Jim Carmody. La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego, CA. Photo by Jim Carmody.

Tools for Arts Advocates

Resources to Build Your Case

In the face of continuing threats to public funding for arts and culture, SMU DataArts is proud to advance the sector by putting data and insights in service to advocacy efforts across the nation. 

The Advocacy Report

Our free Advocacy Report gives policy and funding advocates the tools they need to build a powerful, fact-based case that communicates the reach and impact of the arts.

The report draws on extensive cultural data sets and can be customized to present information at the national, state, and local legislative district levels.

View Example Report


How To Get Your Advocacy Report:

Access the report in the DataArts platform under the "Advocacy" tab found in the top navigation.

Does your organization already have a DataArts account?

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*SMU DataArts will require some basic organizational data from new users. All information will remain confidential. The account is free.

Making the Case: An Online Advocacy Course

Designed for arts and culture professionals, our free online advocacy course includes the basics of building a relationship with elected officials, tips for creating persuasive messaging, and best practices for using data to understand and justify your organization’s position on an issue.

Preview a Course Video:

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The online courses are made possible through support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Barra Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.


How should I use the Advocacy Report?

You can access a DataArts report about your state, or if you are a DataArts user, you can log in and run a custom report for your legislative district, or another geographic boundary you choose. This data will help you talk about the broader arts sector in your area.

You should also consider calling your officials, or even requesting a meeting at their local offices. Your organization is an important presence in your official’s district that provides jobs and improves the lives of their constituents.

To incorporate this report into your advocacy, pull out a couple of talking points about the arts in your area. For example, you could talk about the number of jobs that arts organizations in your area provide or the amount of federal funding they receive. You can use these talking points with officials, the media, or on social media.

If you meet with your officials, consider bringing along your Annual Report from DataArts to help you paint a picture of your organization’s activities. Make sure to share a quick story or show photos alongside the data to make it personal.

What do I need to know when referencing this report?

Whenever you use data in an advocacy context, you should know where it comes from and how to answer questions about it.

This data represents all the arts organizations in an area who participate in DataArts. This isn’t an exhaustive count, but in many areas it includes a large portion of the arts organizations who receive funding from government or private sources. Each advocacy report provides the number of organizations included in the report in the top right hand corner.

Total Paid Positions on the report includes full time, part time, and independent contractor positions. The report also provides the number of volunteers, board members, and Full Time Equivalents (FTEs).

Direct Expenditures on the report includes all direct expenses reported by organizations.

Total Attendance includes all attendees reported by organizations. This number is a sum of attendance counts for each organization in the report, and is not a reflection of unique attendees or participants.

How can I continue to advocate?

Arts advocacy is an ongoing effort, and DataArts is committed to continuing to provide data and other resources for advocates. If you are new to advocacy, or not sure how to get started, check out our free online course, Making the Case: Advocacy Basics for Arts Leaders.

In the course, we provide resources to help you develop a relationship with your elected officials, even if you don’t have a particular issue to discuss, including four steps to set up and carry out a successful first meeting. The course also covers messaging with data, communicating with officials, and planning advocacy campaigns.

How does my Cultural Data Profile (CDP) support advocacy efforts in the sector?

Your data entered into the CDP becomes part of a larger picture about the arts sector. DataArts provides data to advocates through the Advocacy Report and in other formats including a full data export, to help them illustrate the footprint of the sector and its reach in individual communities. This data, along with stories about the impact of the arts on quality of life and other outcomes for citizens, is an important tool for many advocates. You can see examples of research or advocacy efforts using CDP data on our website.

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