SMU DataArts Receives $30,000 Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

by Christopher Blay July 15, 2020



Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dallas, TX.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded SMU DataArts — a center for arts research founded at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in the spring of 2013 — a $30,000 grant to support data collection with its partner TRG Arts.  The group will work with organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.  to understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on art organizations’ operations.

The project, COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard,  was developed by TRG Arts and U.K.-based audience analytics company Purple Seven. The free dashboard, launched last April, gives organizations near-real-time information as they  respond to the pandemic.

Screen Shot of Data from TRG Arts

Screen Shot of Data from TRG Arts.

“The COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard is already showing value in the U.K. by providing insightful data for use by trade bodies, funders, government and the media,” says TRG Chief Executive Officer Jill Robinson. “The generous and savvy investment by the National Endowment for the Arts will help drive rapid volume growth of this critical, quality intelligence for use by U.S. arts organizations and sector stakeholders.”

The dashboard works by setting up a data feed between organizations’ box offices and the dashboard’s secure server, providing daily updates on ticket sales, refunds and donations for the organization. All data is aggregated anonymously, allowing participants to see how they compare with a large group of their peers. Sales figures and customer data are hidden and not identifiable to an organization.

With the NEA grant, SMU DataArts and TRG Arts seek to expand the number of U.S./U.K. organizations, from the nearly 400 current dashboard participants to 1,000, via additional ticketing software providers.

“We are deeply grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for its support,” says Dr. Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts. “This is a critical moment to tap into near real-time intelligence to help arts and cultural leaders overcome the challenges brought on by the pandemic. NEA funding will not only allow more U.S. organizations to access their own COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard, but it will provide us data to closely examine how patron decisions affect organizational health during these extraordinary times.”

For more on SMU DataArts, please visit its website here.

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