Cultural Data Project

May 31, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am writing today with an update on the recent changes at the Cultural Data Project (CDP) and to invite your participation in our planning for the future. As you may know, in March 2013 I assumed the leadership of the CDP as its first President and CEO, and in April we moved out of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ offices and began our operations as an independent 501(c)(3) organization. Our transition has gone very smoothly thanks to the efforts of our dedicated staff, as well as the support of our national funding partners at Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the William Penn Foundation.

Over the past nine years since the CDP launched in Pennsylvania, 12 states (soon to be 13) and the District of Columbia have adopted the CDP, and organizations in another 33 states have independently registered in the system, bringing total participation to nearly 14,500. As the database has grown more robust and representative of the nation’s arts and cultural activity, we have tested and refined the Data Profile and the services we provide to support its use. In the meantime, advocates, funders, researchers, and cultural organizations have made important use of the tools and information the CDP provides. Thanks to your ongoing support and participation, the CDP is rapidly becoming the national standard for collection of financial and operational data on arts and cultural organizations.

Today the CDP is at an important crossroads; one at which we must take stock of how far we’ve come and where the field needs us to go in the future. We have begun developing a strategic plan and new business model for the CDP, which will ensure that our organization is not only financially sustainable but also positions us to be responsive to the needs of the constituencies we serve across the nation. Assisting us are Susan Chun, Greg Curtin, and Bruce Wyman of the Civic Resource Group (CRG), who bring experience and insight into the creation of organizational strategies and integrated technology solutions for civic and cultural advancement.

Four overarching questions will drive our planning:

  1. Is there a long-term vision and genuine set of needs in the field that the collection and use of the reliable, longitudinal data gathered through the CDP can help to meet?

  2. What are the products, processes, and services that will make participation in the CDP easier and more valuable for the arts and cultural organizations whose data form the core of the CDP, and for whose ultimate benefit the data are collected?

  3. How can partnerships with governmental and non-governmental organizations, national arts service organizations, researchers, and funders most efficiently, effectively, and quickly broaden and diversify participation in the CDP in order to accelerate progress towards a truly national dataset and thereby enhance the usefulness and value of the data to the field?

  4. What business model and pricing structures will generate a combination of earned and contributed revenue to enable the CDP to serve a range of purposes and constituencies; provide equitable, affordable access to the data; and support its work on behalf of the sector as a whole?

Over the next few months, we hope you—our partners—will participate in and inform this process. We will be gathering information in a number of ways:

  • We will field an online survey

  • CRG will conduct a series of one-on-one and group interviews designed to augment survey responses through deeper exploration of constituents’ needs.

  • We will invite groups of you to participate in online discussions and collaborative working groups focused on specific topics and strategic issues.

  • We will convene a national advisory panel with representatives from participating CDP states, including arts and cultural leaders, researchers, technologists, data experts, and arts funders to provide input and ideas. During the six-month planning period, this panel will collaborate via conference calls and virtual meetings.

  • We will continue meeting with a range of partners in the current CDP states—both participating funders as well as arts and cultural participants—in order to gain a better understanding of the CDP’s strengths and weaknesses, where it provides opportunities for the sector, and where it presents challenges.

  • We will welcome any feedback, suggestions, thoughts, and big ideas which you may send directly to CRG at Use the same email address to let us know that you’d like to participate in our online discussions and we’ll make sure to contact you when those discussions are live.

Our planning process will continue through the end of this year. During this time, I hope that I get a chance to meet many of you. In the meantime, I encourage you to join us and help us write the next chapter for the Cultural Data Project.

Kind Regards,

Beth Tuttle
President and CEO

The Cultural Data Project: Building Strength Through Information

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