Cultural Data Project Becomes Independent Nonprofit (Winter 2013 Trust Magazine)

// -  After six years of incubation at The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Cultural Data Project has become an independent nonprofit with a national board that matches its broad scope.

The project is a powerful online management tool designed to strengthen arts and cultural organizations through the collection of reliable longitudinal data. Hailed as a national standard, it enables participating organizations to track trends and benchmark their progress through sophisticated reporting tools, empowers researchers and advocates with information to make the case for arts and culture, and equips funders with data to plan and evaluate grantmaking activities more effectively.

"Especially in an uncertain economy, the arts must prove their ‘investment worthiness' with solid numbers, because anecdotal evidence alone is unlikely to persuade policymakers or the public of their importance," said Glen Howard, chairman of the board of the newly independent project. "The Cultural Data Project enables arts organizations to make their case as, among other things, an economic engine. Now is the ideal time to take to the national level what has already been a hugely successful integration of data collection and research on the arts."

Howard, who had been Pew's managing director of legal affairs and general counsel, is a veteran concert performer and has held leadership positions in several cultural nonprofits in Washington. He said that the project would have its headquarters in the historic district of Philadelphia and that its staff, all of which will transition from Pew to the new nonprofit, is excited about opportunities to advance a national agenda for arts and culture.

The project's new president and CEO will be Beth Tuttle, a nationally-known consultant to cultural and educational organizations.

The project now spans four time zones, collecting data from more than 14,000 arts and cultural organizations in 12 states and the District of Columbia. "Here in New York City, the Cultural Data Project is emerging as a vital resource for research, funding, and advocacy," said Kate D. Levin, commissioner of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and a member of the project's board. "As it goes national, we look forward to building on this work with even more regions to help strengthen the entire cultural community."

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--Daniel LeDuc

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