Philadelphia, PA -
08/23/2011 - The Pew Charitable Trusts announced the launch of the Cultural Data Project (CDP) in Vermont, giving nonprofit arts and cultural organizations state of the art technology to help them strengthen their management capacity and demonstrate their impact across Vermont. The project—a web-based data collection tool for arts and cultural organizations and their advocates—launched with funding from the Vermont Arts Council, The Vermont Community Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.
“As cultural organizations navigate a challenging economic climate with limited resources, the CDP provides the information they need to track programmatic, operational and financial trends,” says Neville Vakharia, CDP director. “Arts and cultural organizations in Vermont will be better able to understand their financial condition, improve management practices and plan for the future.”
Operated by The Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia, the Cultural Data Project has emerged as a national resource for collecting and disseminating reliable, standardized data for the cultural sector. The CDP is in use by more than 11,500 nonprofits in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and now, Vermont. With support from national arts grantmakers including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Kresge Foundation, the CDP is on track to be operational in 22 states by 2014.
Those participating in the Vermont CDP will receive free assistance from a team of on-call database specialists and financial consultants. Once participants supply the wide range of financial, programmatic and operational data, the CDP serves as a repository and financial management tool. Organizations can instantly generate information for grant applications, or create on demand 77 different analytic reports on topics such as program activity, free and paid attendance, balance sheet trends, or marketing expenses to present to their donors or boards. Organizations can also use the CDP to understand how they operate in comparison to groups of similar organizations in their community, or communities in other CDP states.
“Understanding not just how financially healthy an organization is, but how the entire sector is doing, is just one aspect of this effort,” says Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Alexander L. Aldrich. “Giving managers contextual information is critical to their planning, as is giving hard, defensible data to funders and policy-makers. Added to all this is the convenience of Vermont organizations being able to apply for funding from some of our major national foundations or creating an annual report with just a few clicks of a mouse.”
With the CDP, research and advocacy organizations can provide a clearer snapshot of arts and culture in a region, demonstrating how vital a role the sector plays. In regions where the project has been in existence for many years, the CDP has been used successfully to provide policymakers evidence of the sector’s assets and needs. For example, arts advocates in Pennsylvania used data collected from the project to defeat a proposed “arts tax” that would have removed the tax exemption on ticket sales and membership revenue for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.
“Supporting this project is a natural fit for the Vermont Community Foundation’s goal of strengthening the state’s nonprofit sector,” says Foundation President & CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay. “Having access to this data and other CDP resources will allow arts and cultural organizations to fine tune their financial management, create stronger messages about their community impact, and better understand the value of their sector.”