SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Performance Space 122, New York, NY. Photo by Maria Baranova. Performance Space 122, New York, NY. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Learning the Ins and Outs of Our New Partners

Brief History

In 2012, the Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business at SMU launched the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR). The vision of NCAR is to act as a catalyst for the transformation and sustainability of the national arts and cultural community. The goals of the Center are to unlock insights on: 1) arts attendance and patronage; 2) understanding how managerial decisions, arts attendance, and patronage affect one another; and 3) fiscal trends and fiscal stability of the arts in the U.S., and to create an in-depth assessment of the industry that allows arts and cultural leaders to make more informed decisions and improve the health of their organizations. To work toward these goals, NCAR integrates data from DataArts and its Cultural Data Profile[1] and other national and government sources such as Theatre Communications Group, the League of American Orchestras, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau, and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. NCAR makes its findings available free of charge to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers, and the general public.

NCAR develops reports based on this uniquely comprehensive set of data that models the arts and culture ecosystem. It assesses the industry from multiple perspectives, including sector/art form, geography, and size of the organization, and it determines what drives health from the organization’s conditions and its community’s characteristics. Recent publications include white papers on ways to improve working capital health, dispelling the myth that the arts are elitist, and diversity and equity in the arts, as well as reports on the health of the U.S. arts and cultural sector. NCAR also offers the KIPI Dashboard, a free online diagnostic tool that allows arts organizations to benchmark their individual performance in nine finance and operations categories against their peers.


NCAR's Tools

The Working Capital Report

The National Center for Arts Research at SMU (NCAR), an organization providing evidence-based insights that stimulate the health and impact of the nonprofit arts and cultural industry, has found the majority of arts and cultural organizations have precariously low levels of working capital, or resources available to cover day-to-day operating needs.

View Working Capital Report

Arts Vibrancy Index

SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) today released its fourth annual Arts Vibrancy Index, which ranks more than 900 communities across the country, examining the level of supply, demand, and government support for the arts in each city. This year, more than 20% of the communities on the most-vibrant list appear for the first time – a total of nine new communities, including four new states: Florida, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota.

View the Index

Arts Vibrancy Map

In addition to the Arts Vibrancy Index, NCAR provides scores for every U.S. county on its interactive map, based on measures of arts dollars, arts providers, government support, and socio-economic and other leisure characteristics.

Explore the Art Vibrancy Map

KIPI Dashboard

The easy-to-use NCAR dashboard allows arts organizations to assess themselves on 24 broad measures in such areas as revenue, expenses, marketing and staffing, and see how they compare to peers throughout the U.S. that are similar in size, field of interest, and audience and community demographics. Known as the KIPI Dashboard (“KIPI” stands for Key Intangible Performance Indicators), it launched in 2016.

Visit the KIPI Dashboard