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State Arts Council Announces Cultural Data Project Launch in Rhode Island

Arts and cultural organizations in Rhode Island will now have access to new technology to help them strengthen their management capacity and demonstrate their value and impact in communities, thanks to a collaboration announced today between the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and The Rhode Island Foundation.

Rhode Island is now part of the Cultural Data Project (CDP), a powerful, web-based data collection tool for arts organizations and the cultural field. Rhode Island is the tenth state to participate in this program, which is designed to help arts and cultural organizations gather and use financial and operational data to help strengthen their programs and services.

State Council on the Arts director Randall Rosenbaum, speaking on the value of the CDP to the local arts community, said that many arts organizations can benefit from a more organized approach to data collection and review. “In order to thrive as a business in today’s world you need to understand every aspect of your operation,” said Rosenbaum. “With the CDP, arts organizations can see what they’re doing well, and what needs to be improved. And they can compare what they’re doing with other, similar organizations here in Rhode Island and throughout the country.”

“If arts organizations better understand their financial and programmatic trends, they can make more informed decisions, particularly in a challenging economy. This powerful and free tool will help strengthen the state’s art sector overall,” said Daniel Kertzner, grant programs officer at the Rhode Island Foundation.

The Cultural Data Project has been helping groups in many states track their financial data and trends, and is now emerging as a national model for collecting and disseminating reliable, standardized data for this often undervalued sector. Operated by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the CDP now reaches more than 11,000 nonprofit organizations and projects in Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania,. With support from partners including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Kresge Foundation, the CDP is expanding nationally, with the goal of 22 participating states by 2014.

Cultural Data Project Director, Neville Vakharia welcomes the Rhode Island CDP: “Rhode Island has a diverse and vibrant arts sector, from its major cultural institutions to its wealth of community-based arts groups. We are thrilled that it has joined the Cultural Data Project’s growing national network of partners documenting their impact in communities and ultimately strengthening the sector at large.”

The Cultural Data Project gives arts organizations the technology to ease the challenges they often face with collecting and organizing information for grant applications and financial reports. Once users supply the wide range of data—topics like revenue, employment, staffing, and attendance—the CDP allows them to organize their information to meet each participating funder’s requirements.

Participating groups have access to free, on-demand assistance from a team of accountants specializing in nonprofit finance, who can help them provide accurate data and understand their financial picture more thoroughly. The CDP then serves as a repository so that groups can track their individual data and trends over time, generate various reports and compare how they operate relative to their peers. For example, a theater organization could both analyze how effective its marketing dollars are in generating ticket revenues and increasing audiences, and compare its annual attendance to groups of similar organizations in its community, or communities in other CDP states.

The project fills a much-needed niche by making reliable, standardized data broadly available to researchers at no cost, to help them analyze and interpret the cultural sector.

The Cultural Data Project, which originated in Pennsylvania, is governed by a consortium of organizations including the the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, The Heinz Endowments, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the William Penn Foundation.

The Cultural Data Project is brought to Rhode Island through a collaboration of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and The Rhode Island Foundation with support from The Kresge Foundation.

For more information on the Rhode Island Cultural Data Project visit www.riculturaldata.org.

The Rhode Island Foundation was founded in 1916 and is one of the nation's largest and oldest charitable organizations serving a specific geographic community. In 2010 the Foundation made grants of $29.2 million to more than one thousand organizations. For more information: www.rifoundation.org

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) is a state agency, supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders. For more information: http://www.arts.ri.gov/

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. Pew partners with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share its commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society. For information: http://www.pewtrusts.org

Related links

Department or agency: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

Online: http://www.arts.ri.gov/

Release date: 05-26-2011

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