Cultural Policy Center Awarded $340,000 for National Study on Effective Practices Used to Build Arts Participation

June 01, 2004

Cultural Policy Center Awarded $340,000 for National Study on Effective Practices Used to Build Arts Participation

CHICAGO, June 1, 2004: The Wallace Foundation has awarded a $340,000 grant to the Cultural Policy Center, a research center housed within the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at The University of Chicago, for a national study of effective practices used by cultural organizations to build participation.

"We have invested more than $40 million in helping leading arts organizations throughout the United States increase participation in the arts," said M. Christine DeVita, President of The Wallace Foundation. "This important study will examine what participation-building practices used by these arts organizations across the country are working, what practices are not working, and why."

The Cultural Policy Center will identify sets of practices that have been demonstrated to be effective in increasing participation in the arts.  The Center has assembled a team of researchers from the Harris School and from across the United States whose expertise spans the fields of psychology, organizational development, social networks, cultural policy and practices, non-profit organizations and arts administration.  The project will also involve up to four graduate research assistants from the University of Chicago.

"This project, structured around case studies of arts participation, combined with another project to map participation in Chicago cultural institutions recently funded through a $128,634 grant from the Joyce Foundation, provides us with an incredible opportunity to get at some of the core issues of who goes to cultural institutions and what might be some of the barriers keeping others away," said Robert LaLonde, Harris faculty and principal investigator for both projects.  

The researchers will work in teams throughout the 18-month project to collect and analyze data from documents, interviews, and participant observation of activities of 58 arts organizations and institutions from throughout the U.S. that have received grants from Wallace.  Included are such organizations as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (Dearborn, MI), Hancher Auditorium/University of Iowa, COCA Center of Creative Arts (St. Louis), Seattle Opera, Arena Stage (Washington D.C.), Repertorio Espanol (NYC), The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Chicago Childrens Choir, the Asian Art Museum (San Francisco), Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (a modern dance company based in New York City), The Loft Literary Center (Minneapolis), and Washington Center for Book (Seattle).   

"We will be looking for effectiveness as evidenced by patterns of activity occurring across organizational boundaries," said Diane Grams, project director and associate director of the Cultural Policy Center.  "The exciting part for me is that this is a study of innovation. The arts historically have been criticized for being an exclusive realm. The innovation here is what these organizations have done to change that." 

"This is a major opportunity for the Center to effect policy particularly on an organizational level.   As a result of this study, both foundations and arts organizations throughout the country will have access to rich, detailed information illuminating how specific strategies and tactics have proven useful and the  factors necessary to make it possible for others to replicate them," said D. Carroll Joynes, co-investigator and executive director of the Cultural Policy Center.   


Diane Grams, Ph.D,
Associate Director
Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago
The Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies
1155 East 60th Street, STE 157
Chicago, IL 60637
PH 773-834-5995
fax 773-702-0926