SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Leading the Field with Innovative Research: Our Annual Report

  • Posted Mar 08, 2022

In a year of so much change and ambiguity, we dedicated our energy to providing and engaging organizations and individuals with the evidence-based insights needed to collectively build strong, vibrant and equitable arts communities.

We are grateful to all who give life to our mission, and we are proud to support arts and cultural organizations during COVID-19 and in the pursuit of equity and racial justice. 

Download: SMU DataArts Annual Report (PDF)

Kalena Chevalier

Deputy Commissioner, Cultural Grants and Resources

“SMU DataArts’ research documenting the impact of public funding in the arts and how Chicago compares to other major cities played a major role in our advocacy for an increased grants budget.”

Image courtesy of Chinese Fine Arts Society, Chicago, IL. Image courtesy of Chinese Fine Arts Society, Chicago, IL.

Our Top Five Most Referenced Publications 

#5 The Most Vibrant Arts Communities in America (2020)

The Arts Vibrancy Index Why report on arts vibrancy from a pre-pandemic time? At a moment of such considerable environmental hostility and uncertainty about the future, we offer this report as a celebration and reminder of the arts’ enduring importance, resiliency, and vibrancy. We should not forget the essential role that the arts play in fueling community development, emotional health, cultural literacy, social cohesion and integration, and creative expression. Read the report.

#4 Stabilizing & Restoring Healthier Working Capital Post-COVID

Buffering Against Uncertainty: Working Capital and the Resiliency of BIPOC-serving Organizations This report offers insight into the financial health of nonprofit cultural organizations prior to the pandemic, with an emphasis on organizations that primarily serve BIPOC communities. We also share key recommendations for organizations and grantmakers to consider as we pave a path for stabilizing and restoring the sector post-pandemic. Read more.

#3 When We Re-Open, Whom Will Gather?

A Study to Help Advance Audience Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as Performing Arts Organizations Re-open Following the Pandemic This research examines if and how donor priorities and an organization’s location, subscriber base, and marketing actions affect the extent to which audiences represent the diversity of the organization’s community. It is part of a series of recent publications intended to help arts and cultural organizations contend with the current crisis of systemic racism. Read the report.

#2 When Will Arts Attendance Return?

How Vaccination Rates May Impact Performing Arts Ticket Sales Through March 2022 We reexamine the impact of COVID-19 on performing arts ticket sales for 51 organizations, using actual purchase data for January 1, 2018 – September 30, 2021. Read more.

#1 The Keys to Success for Arts Organizations of Color

What lessons can we learn about relevance and resilience from high-performing arts organizations? This report, published in partnership with The Wallace Foundation, is based on research conducted during August and September of 2020 investigating the elements of successful strategies employed by high-performing arts organizations that primarily serve communities of color. Read the report.


About Us

Our mission is to empower arts and cultural leaders with high-quality data and evidence-based resources and insights that help them to overcome challenges and increase impact.

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