Consultant Research Officer, Arts

 

​​EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Wallace Foundation -- an independent, national, New York-based philanthropy with $1.75 billion in assets – traces its origins back more than half a century to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of The Reader’s Digest Association. The Foundation’s mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone. Grounded by its core values (see Page 2), which guide how staff work together and with grantee and external partners, the Foundation aims to create a workplace where everyone can thrive and support the mission.

The Foundation is seeking a part-time (roughly 2 days or 16 hrs/week) Consultant Research Officer in the Arts to manage parts of its portfolio of research grants and grantees associated with its investments in the arts, and specifically arts organizations of color. By arts organizations of color we mean performing and visual arts organizations that were founded by and for communities of color. Although closed since March 2020, it is anticipated that the Wallace Foundation will reopen its offices in the financial district of Manhattan in early 2022, as soon as pandemic conditions in NYC have subsided. We therefore seek candidates who are able and willing to regularly (up to once or twice a month) participate in person in meetings in Manhattan when our offices re-open.

The Consultant Research Officer in the Arts must have deep knowledge of (a) the community of arts organizations of color and arts service organizations of color and (b) survey and other research methodologies. The Consultant Research Officer in the Arts will manage two efforts at Wallace:

  1. A new portfolio of 10-12 research grants issued to arts service organizations of color, working in partnership with researchers, to collect data about their members, the fields the work in, or other issues salient to the relevance and resilience of the fields they serve and/or to themselves. While we expect many studies to be surveys, it is possible that organizations will propose other approaches. Arts service organizations of color are professional associations or networks whose role is to support, convene, and advocate for arts organizations of color and artists of color representing particular disciplinary genres (e.g., dance, music) and communities (e.g., black dance, Latinx theatre, etc.). This work will include:
    1. Developing an RFP, overseeing external and internal proposal reviews, and issuing awards or contracts.
    2. Managing (see below) the selected grantees.
    3. Identifying and convening a small panel of methodological experts who can review, advise and support the development of strong research designs among cohort grantees.
    4. Convening a quarterly learning community of cohort grantees to support cross-pollination and learning across the studies they are implementing.
    5. Participating periodically in a larger Wallace arts research community involving researchers from other arts efforts funded by Wallace.
    6. Reviewing research reports and participating in dissemination efforts of research results.
    7. Documenting and synthesizing the approaches taken, challenges navigated, and results achieved through the collective efforts of the grantees to inform The Wallace Foundation’s work and the field at large.
  2. A new single study of strategies for relevance and resilience undertaken by a large and disparate national network of small arts organizations of color. This study is likely to center on document analysis (of proposals or plans submitted by funded arts organizations). This work will include:
    1. Developing an RFP, overseeing external and internal proposal reviews, and issuing award or contract.
    2. Managing (see below) the selected research grantee.
    3. Participating periodically in a larger Wallace arts research community involving researchers from other arts efforts funded by Wallace.
    4. Reviewing research reports and participating in dissemination efforts of research results.

Reporting to The Wallace Foundation’s Director of Research, the Consultant Research Officer in the Arts will bring deep knowledge of the field of arts organizations of color and of arts service organizations of color, along with a depth of experience with survey and other research and evaluation methods. Strong candidates will also demonstrate exceptional relational, translational, and active-listening skills which will be crucial for developing relationships with and among grantees, and for negotiating conversations intended to support and optimize the methodological rigor and reach of the grantee’s proposed studies. The Foundation values the flexibility to adapt to change, a desire to learn, and the ability to work productively both on one’s own and with colleagues inside and outside the organization.

Application instructions can be found at the end of this document.

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW

History
Based in New York City, The Wallace Foundation is the philanthropic legacy of DeWitt and Lila Wallace, founders of the Reader’s Digest. Wallace is one of the nation’s 60 largest independent, charitable foundations. Our mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people and in the arts for everyone. We are a national foundation, supporting work across the United States without a focus on any one community or region.

The Wallace Foundation takes a unique approach for a private foundation. Most of our work is carried out through large-scale, multi-year initiatives designed to accomplish dual goals. The first is to support our grantees (such as arts organizations) to create value for those they serve by developing and strengthening their work at the local level. Our second goal is to add value to the field as a whole by designing initiatives that address important unanswered policy and practice questions, commissioning researchers to document and analyze what is learned by Wallace grantees as they participate in the initiative, and then sharing these findings with practitioners, policymakers and influencers in order to catalyze improvements more broadly. In this way, we aim to use the development of research-based insights and evidence as a lever to help institutions, beyond those we fund directly, enrich and enhance their work.

Our three focus areas are the arts, K-12 education leadership, and youth development. We conceptualize our initiatives as learning collaborations among the grantee organizations, researchers, technical assistance providers, and Wallace staff who together explore questions with implications for practice, policy, and research. Wallace staff, with experience and expertise in program, communications, and research, work collaboratively on all aspects of the initiative.

Core Values
Wallace seeks to improve complex social systems in ways that are meaningful, measurable, and sustainable. They value behavior that demonstrates a commitment to Mutual Respect and Support, Diversity, Continuous Learning, Collaboration, Excellence, and Accountability.

Research at The Wallace Foundation
At the Foundation, research is fully integrated into all initiatives. Funded research projects include a wide range of approaches, including the synthesis of existing knowledge; landscape and big data studies; qualitative and ethnographic studies; implementation analysis; case studies; participatory research; outcomes studies; cost studies; market research; and policy analysis. In addition to the academic publications these studies may produce, they almost always generate research reports or products designed for use by practitioners and policymakers, in order to advance the Foundation’s goal of spreading useful, effective ideas and practices.

The majority of Wallace-funded studies in the arts are related to:

  • Understanding conditions and developments in the field of non-profit arts organizations.
  • Studying and understanding the work of program grantees (such as arts organizations, arts organizations of color, and others) in multi-year initiatives.
  • Conducting exploratory studies that analyze conditions, generate knowledge, or build research tools that can advance future investments by the foundation.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CONSULTANT RESEARCH OFFICER IN THE ARTS

The Consultant Research Officer in the Arts will bring deep research knowledge, expertise, and experience at the intersection of the arts, equity, and research methods to the strategic discussions that shape Wallace’s initiatives.

The Consultant Research Officer in the Arts will play a crucial role in the following areas:

Strategy and Initiative Implementation
As an adjunct member of the arts interdisciplinary team, s/he/they will:

  • Identify and synthesize existing evidence related to the work being managed and to the larger arts initiative; develop and shape useful analyses of the grantee work; identify and analyze challenges and opportunities for the work to inform policy discussions; and ensure that evidence-based approaches are fully integrated into the strategy.
  • Work with the Director of Research to identify key knowledge gaps and research approaches that could most benefit practitioners and policymakers, and advance knowledge in the field.
  • Develop ways to keep the Wallace arts strategy team informed, synthesizing emerging results from funded research teams, and organizing research updates for the arts strategy, as useful.

Collaboration within Arts Team
As an adjunct member of the arts strategy team, s/he/they will:

  • ring knowledge and understanding of the arts research literature, specifically at the intersection of arts, arts organizations of color, equity, research methods, and needs in the field, into discussions and collaboratively developing work products that reflect the best thinking of the team.
  • Demonstrate deep understanding of equity with respect to arts organizations of color—issues, challenges, trends, leading researchers, and practices.
  • Be proactive and responsive to current and emerging needs and interests surfacing in the arts strategy and implementation teams, and in the respective program and communication units; this includes alerting staff to existing research findings or efforts, and identifying proactive scans and evidence reviews that could be conducted to inform anticipated needs or discussions.

Grants Management
The Consultant Research Officer in the Arts will work with the Research Director to manage the two sets of studies described above. The Consultant Research Officer in the Arts needs to foster positive working relationships with research grantees in order to: (1) support the research grantees in their work, as needed, (2) ensure and understand how the funded studies are aligned with the Foundation’s strategy and knowledge agenda, and (3) ensure timely updates and connections in ways that can advance both the research grantees’ work and the Foundation’s strategy team processes. The Consultant Research Officer in the Arts will manage all aspects of the two study types described above, including RFP development, grantee selection, contracts management; review and analysis of analytic memos, reports, and other research deliverables; and budget or timeline changes. Specifically, s/he/they will:

  • Ensure that the relationship between grantees and Wallace allows for an open exchange about problems and successes, and clear communications to ensure mutual understanding about the scope of work and deliverables.
  • Monitor grant progress throughout the year through periodic calls, meetings, contributions to the arts initiatives semi-annual convenings, review of reports, and share feedback with grantees.
  • Lead research briefings to share findings and lessons for cross-initiative and foundation-wide learning.

Support Effective Dissemination of Lessons Learned

  • Identify the kinds of knowledge emerging from research grants that can support learning among grantees, researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and field leaders, as well as the formats that would best support their intended use (e.g., policy briefs, infographics, design principles, data charts, etc.).
  • Support grantees as they develop public representations of their findings, by coordinating and/or providing editorial feedback in ways that are experienced as helpful by grantees.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Extensive experience designing and implementing survey-based studies.
  • Extensive experience working with or in arts organizations of color and/or the arts service organizations of color community.
  • Extensive professional networks with the arts organizations of color and/or the arts service organizations of color community.
  • Strong knowledge of the research literature in the arts, particularly with respect to the equity dimensions and implications of practices, policies, and systems change efforts.
  • Demonstrated commitment to accountability and transparency.
  • Exceptional project management skills and ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment.
  • Excellent writing skills, spanning academic and more public/practitioner related audiences.
  • Capacity to work productively in a collaborative team structure.
  • Excellent conceptual, analytic, and forward-thinking skills.
  • Outstanding ability to connect, convey and receive complex ideas, and drive consensus and mutual understanding in writing, speaking, active listening, and synthesis.
  • Graduate degree in a relevant social science discipline is preferred.

TIMING
This is a part time (approximately 2 days/week) position, including 2-3 hours/week of fixed meetings with Wallace staff. Hours can be billed dependent on the work flow and may be greater some weeks or months than others. Work is expected to commence early in 2022, and will include a ramp up period in the spring during the months before proposals are due.

TO APPLY

Please submit cover letter expressing interest and qualifications, CV, and compensation requirements to research@wallacefoundation.org. The position will remain posted until filled.

The Wallace Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to maintaining a diverse workplace where differing perspectives are a source of strength.