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.

Cultural Data Networks

Recently, we’ve witnessed a trend in some communities, and a desire in others, for in-depth discussions about data use in the arts and cultural sector. In response, DataArts is engaging with local arts and cultural communities across the United States to address emerging challenges and create new opportunities through the use of data.

Our goal is to create infrastructure where it is needed, or partner with an existing initiative, in order to encourage, support, and advance these conversations. We believe that the collection, analysis, and innovative application of high-quality data makes the cultural sector stronger by producing more informed and effective cultural management, philanthropy, research, policy, and advocacy. By building local Cultural Data Networks and connecting them to one another nationwide, we have the potential to catalyze and amplify data-driven learning, action, and impact for the cultural sector. 

Cultural Data Networks are designed to accelerate, amplify, and coordinate data-related conversations and work by encouraging cohorts of organizations and individuals to come together and explore ways that information can power the arts, culture, and creative community. Through our work to build a national cultural dataset, DataArts knows that many cultural organizations and communities are seeking innovative solutions to similar challenges.  Many professionals are looking for ways to connect with energetic colleagues and maximize the impact of their collective efforts.

Whether the community is working to understand audiences, advocate for funding, or create more equity for diverse voices, all local agendas can benefit from data and evidence that strengthens the case for arts and culture in our communities. Cultural Data Networks are where those conversations and solutions can take shape.


These networks are locally-directed, voluntary affinity groups, comprising arts and cultural professionals, grantmakers, advocates, academics, researchers, related nonprofit and business entities, policy makers, and interested individuals. In some places, formal or informal working groups may already exist, and DataArts hopes to partner and collaborate with these efforts. In other communities, no network may exist, and we aim to provide the spark for the formation of new networks, and support infrastructure development.

DataArts is a national catalyst and connector for local Cultural Data Networks, providing information and opportunities for cross-community learning, while local members set and enact their own Network’s priorities and agendas. Due to the individualized nature of each arts and cultural community, each CDN may develop a distinct structure and approach to governance that is suited to its needs.

Why data matters for the arts

Data increasingly drives decisions and leads to improved outcomes in many industries and across the public, private, and social sectors. As the cultural community faces stiffer competition for resources and relevance, it too needs and deserves the benefits of high-quality data. The arts enrich lives by providing essential creative experiences, and data provides essential insights that help the arts maintain a strong and vibrant presence in our communities.

If the data era has arrived, what’s next? 

DataArts is part of a movement that seeks to harness the power of information to advance the cultural sector. The Cultural Data Profile (CDP), our flagship service, allows nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, researchers, and advocates to create and use an unparalleled national information resource for the cultural nonprofit sector. But the CDP is only one piece of the puzzle. How we put data to work is where the rest of picture emerges. Cultural Data Networks are designed to bring together diverse community perspectives to identify challenges and opportunities and develop local cultural data agendas and action plans.


Groups and individuals interested in creating a Cultural Data Network or inviting DataArts to join your ongoing initiative should contact our Community Engagement Manager, who will be in touch to determine how we can collaborate in your community.

About DataArts 

DataArts is a nonprofit organization that empowers the arts and cultural sector with high-quality data and resources in order to strengthen its vitality, performance, and public impact. The Cultural Data Profile (CDP) is DataArts’ flagship service, which thousands of cultural nonprofits use annually to report their financial and programmatic information. Learn more at

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